Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in the Russian workplace just took a significant step forward! Representatives of the international business community as well as Russian and international civil society came together last week in Moscow to explore how closer cooperation can open the door to greater progress with D&I in the Russian workplace. This unprecedented event focused primarily on the situation for less visible minority groups, (mainly the LGBT community) by exploring in detail the perceived legal and societal bottlenecks to greater inclusion. By the end of the event, it became clear that overcoming these barriers is often just a question of better understanding the actual context.
A case in point is how civil society participants were surprised at how much work is already being done towards LGBT inclusion within large companies. While acknowledging that there is still lots of work to do, several of the attending multinationals already have specific initiatives for women, ethnic minorities, disabled people, as well as LGBT employees. More importantly, they are eager to engage with civil society and to cooperate among themselves to make progress.
The controversy surrounding the LGBT propaganda laws in Russia was also discussed at length. Local legal expertise pointed out that the law, which in reality is rarely enforced, was designed with minors in mind and cannot apply to workplaces where, by definition, only adults work. With this in mind, progress for more inclusive workplaces for LGBT employees, and even the relationship to clients and management takes on a completely different tone.
Just as compelling were the personal stories showing that what most people want is to be able work in a safe environment of mutual respect and in which their contribution is valued. This is a universal reality applicable to anyone feeling outside of the ‘norm’.
The well-attended Roundtable which included simultaneous Russian/English translation, was co-organised by Workplace Pride, Amsterdam and Coming Out LGBT group, St. Petersburg. Corporate support was shown by IBM, Accenture, and Sodexo with special thanks going to Shell which made the translation facilities possible. The organisers are grateful to all of these organizations as well as the Netherlands Embassy in Moscow which hosted the event.
Going forward, interested parties will continue the discussion of how to make progress with D&I in Russia with a follow-up event scheduled to take place in approximately 6 months.
For more information about this event contact:
Workplace Pride: David Pollard, Executive Director: firstname.lastname@example.org
Coming Out: Polina Andrianova, Group Leader: email@example.com