Corporate equality and human dignity

Lately citizens of Ukraine, when buying goods and services, began opting not only for price and quality but other factors as well. Among them is the country of origin of goods, a business owner, production conditions, professional level of employees and so on.

Lately citizens of Ukraine, when buying goods and services, began opting not only for price and quality but other factors as well. Among them is the country of origin of goods, a business owner, production conditions, professional level of employees and so on.

So, by buying a particular product, a person is participating in values shared by the manufacturing company and its corporate culture. This system of values and beliefs is shared by every employee of the company; these values determine his or her behavior, and condition the nature of activity of the entire organization. The concept of corporate culture has been actively promoted by major western corporations already in the middle of the last century, to ensure high profitability of a firm by maximizing the efficiency of the production management and quality improvement of the activity of the enterprise as a whole. An important aspect of the corporate culture is equality.

Corporate equality means that the contributions of all employees, business partners and clients, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or psychological disability, shall be secured by the environment that is based on respect for human dignity. Top managers of large companies understand that corporate equality is not only fair, but also good for business. Studies show that corporations that promote diversity are more successful in the long run.

Using the recent experience of the American advocacy organizations, AUCO “Fulcrum” in cooperation with partner organizations established the corporate equality index.

Ukrainian corporate equality index is the national survey of corporate policies, rules and practices of private companies to prohibit discrimination in the workplace and support equality and diversity. The index involves a study of anti-discrimination on grounds of gender, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity. The index includes a survey of major employers of Ukraine. Those companies that scored 100 points fall into the register of “Best Jobs”.

“We view the Ukrainian corporate equality index as a tool of achieving our strategic goal to overcome discrimination in the workplace based on any sign. Practices and procedures laid out by the authors would facilitate the loyalty of employees to the employer and would improve the performance of personnel and attract new employees”, says Bogdan Globa, Director of AUCO “Fulcrum”.

Why is this important?

The realization by every person of their rights and opportunities, identifying signs of discriminations, cultivating intolerance to any form of discrimination does not only raise the level of legal awareness but also improves the quality of life for everyone.  Today in Ukraine stereotypes continue to exist regarding the roles of women and men (gender stereotypes), which is a contradiction to the dynamics of Ukraine’s development as a high level democratic society.

Roman Romanov, Director of Program Initiative “Human Rights and Justice” of the International Renaissance Foundation says: “For me non-discrimination is that what takes us from the past to the future. This is respect for human dignity, which we defended on Maidan. And I am sure that today in Ukraine there are more like-minded people who understand that anti-discriminatory policy should be mandatory in all spheres of life.”

Every person, regardless of peculiarities, works to realize their intellectual abilities, physical abilities as well as to satisfy their material needs, their own ones and those of their family members. The right to decent work is one of the basic human rights enshrined in the Constitution, the Labour Code and other international and national laws and in international law. Discrimination in the workplace is a violation of basic human rights.

In 2014 Ukraine signed the Association Agreement with the EU. Under this Agreement, Ukrainian companies have three years to adapt their work to the Directives of the European Union, which, among other things, prohibit discrimination in the workplace. Introduction of the Ukrainian corporate equality index is intended to help companies to adapt to these new conditions and ensure the protection of its employees from discrimination. On the one hand, answering the questions from the index, the company may see the weaknesses of their own policies and understand what procedures/practices do not meet the required standards. On the other hand, the founders of the project offer companies full support for the implementation of the European anti-discrimination standards.

“Fulcrum” have created a special resource for business, which involves the world best practices and examples. With this resource, companies can create their own policies, get recommendations, download the training modules for staff and others.

HR-manager of one of the winners of the Index companies explains: “To work with people with disabilities is not just to employ a person with disabilities; it means to create conditions for work and psychological environment so that a person feels comfortable. 50 years ago it was difficult to imagine that the issue of equality of work of women and men would arise; 20 years ago – on LGBT equality; 10 years ago – on persons with disabilities and 2 years ago – on IDPs. For our company it is a constant work and constant self-improvement to ensure decent working conditions for each employee.”

Now, buying a product or service, Ukrainians will learn if the company supports prohibition of discrimination on all grounds or not. Development of the Index, as noted by the project implementers, was not intended to “identify and publicly name the offenders” – the goal was to conduct a thorough investigation, noting those companies that already have / develop equality policies and offering cooperation and training to those companies that have not yet implemented the principles of equality and non-discrimination. It is important not only to have a document that guarantees equality and protection from discrimination, but also the willingness of the business for self-improvement and respect of human rights. Thus, the corporate equality index is another step towards the establishment of the European democratic values in Ukraine.

The study can be viewed following the link.

Author: Radoslava Chekmysheva

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