Promoting diversity and inclusion within companies is much more than hiring a few women, people with some type of disability or people of different nationalities, just to fill the quotas. Diversity and inclusion is about people. It's about their different experiences and individualities, which make them who they are and what make them unique. It is about accepting, respecting and, above all, promoting difference.

The pandemic, however, ended up dictating the regression of the role of women, especially in the job market, aggravating gender inequality in organisations. But, at the same time, the last two years have revolutionised not only the way we work, but also the way most companies take care of their people. Well-being has become the center of attention.

Based on the best practices of several organisations, Coverflex created a guide with five specific measures that can help you to promote inclusion in your company: 

1. Assume 100% flexibility

On a global level, most women admit that they would prefer to continue working remotely in a post-pandemic scenario. “The increased flexibility has helped to balance the multiple roles that many women manage on a daily basis, including work, child care and household responsibilities,” explains ManpowerGroup.

Remote work also brings, however, new challenges to their lives. This is the case of the “need to adapt schedules to the demands of caring for children or elderly people”. Thus, and in order to incorporate the needs of remote workers who must assume multiple roles, leaders must create clear policies that focus on individual performance and integrate greater flexibility in working hours, adapting the models and the expectations of communication of the entire team accordingly, defends the group specialised in human resources.

Decode, for example, is implementing a work decentralisation strategy, in which its employees will be able to choose not only where they want to work from, but also when they want to work. This option takes effect during the first half of 2022 and will be implemented gradually to assess its effectiveness. The goal is for all the Portuguese employees of this tech company to be able to increasingly harmonise their personal and professional lives, in a logic of “work-life integration” and not so much “work-life balance”.

2. Take advantage of remote work and hybrid models 

Another advantage of remote work and hybrid models is related to geographic flexibility. If, in the past, the “mobility” factor created a barrier or limitation to hire and retain the necessary people, this obstacle is increasingly overcome. Companies can, more than ever, direct their focus in a context of attracting and retaining talent with more diversity and with more emphasis on skills and qualifications.

Remote work and hybrid models bring the possibility of expanding the talent pool. Job offers for working remotely have increased fivefold during the pandemic, so looking for and finding the best talent is not restricted to the office location area. ‍

“People no longer have to leave their desk, home or city to expand their career, which will have a profound impact on the talent landscape,” says Microsoft. With this possibility, almost 50% of remote workers surveyed even reveal that they are planning to move to a new location during this year, concluded a study carried out by this tech company.

Microsoft is precisely one of several companies that decided to move towards a hybrid working model. In Portugal, the company gives employees the possibility to choose which work model they want to adopt, and they can choose the work regime that is most convenient for them: from the company's offices, from home or remotely, anywhere of the world.

3. Question and review systems, starting with the most basic

Sometimes a name can make all the difference in someone's life. Teleperformance Portugal, through the “Project Charlie” initiative, is committed to changing part of the company's systems so that, from the moment a person is recruited, they can determine their preferred name and this can be reflected in the tools. The goal is for the person to be known by the name that makes them feel better, avoiding any embarrassment that impacts their well-being.

Charlie is a non-binary person and, every day, when they opened the system to work, they were confronted with their dead name, which they no longer identified with. “It's something minimal, it doesn't have any costs, but it has a brutal impact”, says Ana Sanches, VP of diversity, equity and inclusion at Teleperformance Portugal, in an interview for the magazine Pessoas by ECO. A change that makes all the difference in Maria's life.

“When we started 'Project Charlie' a number of people asked us to change the name, including an employee who joined Teleperformance as a man, with some fear of disclosing their identity, but who wanted to be called Maria, was in the process of changing their name legally”, she recalls. “At the meeting, she told us that, for the first time, she was sharing her intentions and the way she would like to be treated because, until now, in the organisations where she had been, she had been bullied as people did not understand her situation. And she cried a bit while she was there with us. In many cases we are giving people the opportunity to be what they want to be".

4. Conduct an internal audit on gender parity, and take action 

Almost 80% of national organisations regularly measure gender parity indicators. Out of these, 57% measure pay equity, 27% analyse the number of female professionals in management positions and 22% in positions traditionally dominated by men. In addition, a total of 18% of companies track the percentage of female employees in leadership positions, reveals the study “#BreakTheBias – Gender Equity at Work”, carried out by ManpowerGroup.

To correct the imbalance that still exists between genders, whether in terms of salary or presence in leadership positions, it is urgent that companies act actively, namely through the creation of targeted value propositions based on the needs of their employees, thus placing the entire workforce on an equal footing.

The Professional Women’s Network Lisbon (PWN Lisbon) and Banco BPI recently decided to team up to promote organisational diversity. Through this partnership, the bank will be able to benefit from the PWN Lisbon programs (leadership, mentoring, youth, women on board and engaging men), as well as its role model, training and networking actions, in a logic of sharing models of excellence.

“The partnership with PWN Lisbon takes on added importance and represents an opportunity to jointly boost female leadership even further”, says Nuno Cardoso Filipe, executive director of people and organisation at Banco BPI.

5. Review parenting leave policies

This is, in fact, one of the main recommendations made by the World Economic Forum, in the “Global Gender Gap Report 2021”. And, fortunately, several companies are starting to look at this issue with different eyes, promoting parenting and helping their employees to enter this stage of their lives. ‍

Dashlane is one of the companies that recently announced that it has taken another step towards a more inclusive culture. The company with an office in Portugal decided to complement the provisions of Portuguese law on parenting. The parent or adopter who takes the secondary leave, traditionally attributed to the father - and which allows them to enjoy 20 days, with the option of 30 more in the case of shared leave -, will be able to enjoy a total of 140 days of leave. Thus, this becomes equivalent to the primary leave, traditionally granted to the mother, which varies between 120 and 150 days. During these four months, the salary will be awarded at 100%.

In case both parents/adopters work at Dashlane, the measure applies equally. That is, both elements of the couple can enjoy the licenses described above.

“This is an extremely relevant measure, not only in the work context, but also in the social context. We are proud to take this step and serve as an example in a world of work that still promotes gender-based inequalities. With this measure, we allow both parents to experience the moment and be present equally, supporting each other in such an important event in their lives. Invariably fulfilling the mother's role of primary caregiver, assuming most of the responsibilities after the birth/adoption of a child, is an idea of ​​the past. We want to be in the present and thinking about the future. The well-being of our employees will always be our highest priority and allowing them to balance their personal and professional lives is the guarantee that we will be continuously supporting them in this regard”, says Mafalda Garcês, country leader & people director at Dashlane.