By the Editorial staff
“We very much wanted to be an inclusive company and with great commitment and enthusiasm we are promoting a sustainable work environment, where every person is proud to contribute while feeling welcomed and respected, free to express their identity and actively participating with their voice and actions.”
This is how Dominique Pasquier, Managing Director of Agos, describes the intent behind the Diversity & Inclusion project, which for months has involved all employees in events and activities aimed at building a culture of equality together, promoting biodiversity as an asset, a source of abundance, and a driver of change and growth. This is an important cultural and organisational change, in which it is essential that everyone plays an active part.
Inclusion also means considering multiple types of ability a normal condition of the heterogeneity of the facets of humanity. It means demanding equal opportunities and equal treatment so that nobody feels discriminated against due to having different abilities. And this passes through not only guaranteeing access to particular places and information and breaking down sensory and architectural barriers, but also, and above all, working on the culture, reflecting collectively on the topic and putting in place new behaviours within the company. We need to find new languages, new meanings, because the subtlest and lowest barriers pass through the very words we often choose unconsciously, for example using terms that are offensive or have negative connotations to refer to disabilities.
The risk, which we are often not aware of, is of describing people by defining them solely in terms of their disability, imprisoning them in stereotypes, constructing expectations that see them as inferior, less capable, or “valid, in spite of their condition”.
Every cultural change is perfected through major awareness-raising activities and Agos has dedicated numerous initiatives to the topic of ableism. To examine these topics in greater depth, we organise monthly live webinars with expert speakers who talk about diversity by bringing ableism to everyone’s attention and lifting it out of indifference. The most recent webinar saw the activist Luca Trapanese participate, to reflect together on the meaning we assign to words such as “defect”, “ability” and “being normal”. To talk about disability, which should not be ignored or hidden from sight or removed from people’s consciences.
To promote the recognition of all abilities, the company has included among its suppliers social cooperatives that promote the employment of disabled people and other people whom the state defines as disadvantaged, but who represent value and work for Agos. It has entrusted the Opera in Fiore agricultural cooperative with the care of its green spaces at its Milan headquarters, GreenLife.
But the company’s real assets are, as always, its people, who have put themselves on the line, telling their stories, opening the doors of their homes and lives to their colleagues, interweaving their stories with those of others, sharing the difficulties but also the immense joy of living alongside a family member with a disability, a child who needs particular support as they grow and faces daily obstacles. Young children were also involved, who wanted to make their voices heard and sang, drew, and read out loud their moving thoughts on diversity, inclusion and acceptance, at school and in everyday life.
“We have a long road ahead of us, we are only at the beginning. We are sowing carefully to prepare the ground for change, so that in the future we will be able to offer more opportunities for inclusion at all levels, in a working environment where ethics and business coexist and support each other”. Dominique Pasquier