European Diversity Conference discusses how to really deal with ethnicity in the workplace

Paris, 24 October 2014 - Today, the 2nd European Business Diversity Conference, organised by the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) in collaboration with L’Oréal and the French Association of Diversity Managers (AFMD), gathers HR and Diversity managers, consultants, NGO representatives and public officials from across Europe to explore what businesses do well with regard to dealing with ethnic and cultural origin in the workplace.

Using a mind-blowing political fiction, participants will test the resistance of their organisations as fully inclusive and equality-driven employers for ethnic & religious minorities and migrants.

Many ethnic minorities experience racial discrimination at various stages of their careers - from recruitment to pensions - and to varying degrees depending on employment sectors. While this reality is not new to HR managers and trade unionists, little has been done to systematically confront it.

Discussing race and ethnicity in the workplace has become “taboo”, in particular in certain countries where the cultural context is not conducive to such discussions. If they are addressed, it is reluctantly and generally in response to legal action.

This trend should be reversed and this conference will contribute to providing managers with a practical framework to tackle ethnic and cultural origin as well as concrete practices that work and can make a difference.

ENAR Chair Sarah Isal said: “The ‘ethnicity’ aspect of diversity management is still largely missing in most European companies, which tend to focus their diversity policies and practices on gender, age and disability. We want to motivate managers to take ethnic diversity on board, without any taboos, and show that it’s possible. Europe won’t be able to redress its economy unless it harnesses the full potential of its minorities. This conference is a step in ensuring that businesses understand and finally tap into the added value of ethnic and cultural diversity in Europe.”

L’Oréal’s Senior VP Talent Development and Chief Diversity Officer, Jean-Claude Le Grand, stated: "At L’Oréal we are convinced that a diverse workforce at all levels and functions enhances our creativity and innovation to create and offer the best and relevant products to our consumers. To do so, we need to recruit, develop and nurture the best talent. Our employees are our main asset. Our aim is to reflect the Society wherever we operate. It is essential that we talk openly about the management of diverse backgrounds inside the company and implement actions within our organization, but also collectively with experts such as ENAR. This is why we are proud to host, for the second year in a row, this conference on “Origins in the Workplace” in partnership with ENAR. We need to foster inclusion of ALL talents.”

AFMD President Bruce Roch said: “As companies start addressing a variety of diversity issues such as age, disability, religion, LGBT, ethnic diversity is often "eclipsed" from workplace diversity policies, seen as a nonexistent problem or because it raises fears. The idea of a dialogue with civil society and ENAR on sensitive stakes helps us raise awareness amongst our members on forthcoming issues for public and private organisations, in Europe and in France. It is also a concern for comprehensive integration in the workplace for all individuals. Most of all, it is a good exercise on building a diversity friendly professional world.”

For further information, contact:
Georgina Siklossy, ENAR Communication and Press Officer
Tel: +32 (0)2 229 35 77 - Mobile: +32 (0)473 490 531 - E-mail: georgina@enar-eu.org - Web: www.enar-eu.org. Also see the Event Webpage

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