Entrepreneurship as an engine of social change and driver of integration
The state of emergency we are currently facing has severely tested the social stability of our country, as well as that of all the other countries affected by the pandemic.
However, in the case of Italy, the crisis has also highlighted chronic weaknesses that have never been overcome, especially in terms of diversity, inclusion and access to job and career opportunities.
Despite efforts and activities implemented at an institutional level to align the country with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 UN Agenda, Italy was already trailing behind other European Union countries before the pandemic:
- Goal #1 End poverty: 6th place in Europe
- Goal #5 Gender equality: one of the last in Europe for women’s unemployment
- Goal #8 Decent work and economic growth: 4th place in Europe
- Goal #10 Reduce inequality: 5th place in Europe
However, one lesson that we have learned from this complicated period is that companies that can embrace and value diversity and inclusion are also the most resilient.
This is confirmed by consolidated international evidence: Companies with inclusive policies have a 60% greater opportunity of improving profits and productivity. These companies also enjoy a better reputation and are able to attract and retain talent. Investing in diversity and inclusion therefore makes a company more competitive on the market and offers better prospects for growth.
Today, in our country, to bridge the social divide of inequality, we have to involve and transform small and medium-sized enterprises — which make up the majority of the Italian business sector — into enablers of change.
This is why Fondazione Sodalitas, together with Impronta Etica, AIDAF (Italian Association of Family Businesses), AIDDA (Association of Women Entrepreneurs and Managers), UCID (Christian Union of Business Executives) and the Ufficio Consigliere Nazionale di Parità, with the support of the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry for Equal Opportunity, decided in 2009 to launch the Charter for Equal Opportunity and Equality at Work, whose signatories include Way2Global.
It is a declaration of intent by which companies and other organizations actively commit to implementing inclusive human resources policies to harness all the richness and diversity of talented individuals: a bridge between institutions and companies to achieve the goal of a more inclusive workplace.
Although the charter specifically focuses on employment, it does not overlook other forms and areas of gender discrimination. The charter is in fact sponsored by the European Union, which has made gender equality one of the binding goals within its policy strategy for the 2020-2025 five-year period.
National institutions have also been advocating for gender equality. Elena Bonetti, Minister for Family and Equal Opportunity, stressed in a recent speech at a roundtable:
“During this period, women have played a key role in holding society together, both in the household and in the production chain, thanks to their multi-faceted management skills. The future recovery plan calls for women’s managerial advancement through comprehensive training that places emphasis on soft skills, as well as reskill and upskill initiatives for working women. Action must be taken to achieve structural and permanent change, to promote freedom of choice and to implement family policy reform. We must change the way girls are told how they can succeed in life. Empowerment means giving women the ability to apply their energy and that is a chance for all of us to grow.”
Gender equality has always been an important topic for our company, which is women-led and has a majority of female employees. For us at Way2Global, trying to provide an answer to humanity’s great challenges also means working to promote women’s empowerment. This is why, as a benefit corporation, we have made the 2030 Agenda’s SDGS a reference point and guide for development.
In our journey toward gender equality, since August we have decided to take another step forward by endorsing the Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs), a joint initiative set up by the UN Global Compact and UN Women.
We firmly believe that the private sector and companies, regardless of their size, must become engines of innovation and regeneration, virtuous changemakers that actively contribute to eliminating the inequalities in access to study, work and career opportunities that currently disadvantage women.
Besides being part of our daily approach and our direction of travel, we consider a commitment to equal opportunity to be a moral duty for companies, which must commit to concrete action, including internally, to make room for young talent and to include women in senior roles and in technical and scientific disciplines (STEM).
This conviction was the starting point for Term4Neural, an innovative research project developed by Way2global in collaboration with three young recent graduates with a passion for translation and artificial intelligence, with whom we participated in Assolombarda’s STEAMiamoci initiative. This project involves, among other things, an online collection of best practices implemented by companies to educate and promote women in science and technology professions.
Term4Neural is a unique terminology database for the financial and legal translation vertical market, which draws on 12 million terms and cutting-edge language industry technology (neural networks and big data) to enable us to train and empower a team of female linguists to use Neural Machine Translation (NMT), as well as to support three talented young women to become disruptive data scientists.
It is a wonderful story of women’s empowerment, open innovation, technology transfer and capacity building, demonstrating how women and technology can prove to be a winning combination.
Discover Way2Global’s other D&I (Diversity & Inclusion) projects and join us in achieving positive change.