“Today we are going to speak about career women,” one of the girl ballerinas explains with candour. "Virtuous Equality.Good practices for striking the right work-life balance in Lombardy" on 19 November, in the captivating setting of Belvedere Jannacci, on the 31st floor of the Pirellone skyscraper
In Italy, women are still finding themselves penalised in the arduous task of striking the right work-family balance: ISTAT data confirms that the employment rate of mothers between 25 and 54 years old, caring for children or disabled relatives, is a meagre 57%, compared to 89.3% of fathers.
However, it is important to dispel widespread prejudice. The issue of striking the right balance is not just about mothers — it is also about fathers and children faced with dependent parents or relatives who require care and time. In 2018, the national labour inspectorate recorded over 49,000 resignations of workers who were unable to reconcile both needs.
“The topic of work-life balance is not just about mothers, it's about fathers and children too. Care work in general must be acknowledged in the collective mind as a problem that needs to be resolved."
Carolina Elena Pellegrini — Lombardy Region Councillor for Equality
To present a perspective of hope and change, faced with such a disconcerting reality, the Lombardy Region Equal Opportunities Council selected and summoned virtuous companies and associations to tell the story of their own benefits and reconciliation projects. The "Virtuous Equality" initiative aims to promote and reward organisations that tangibly help workers strike the right balance between work and their private lives, on a daily basis.
During the ceremony, seven companies were awarded for successfully conceiving and implementing excellent reconciliation projects or outstandingly innovative initiatives. During the ceremony, these champions of social entrepreneurship, including Assolombarda for the Associations category, Biogen Italia and Danone for the Large and Very Large Companies categories, were given the chance to describe and share their good practices with participants — proof of how it is possible to strike the right work-life balance, with the aim of inspiring other companies to promote and replicate cutting-edge models and policies.
The first edition of "Virtuous Equality" was a huge success, crowned by an impressive audience turnout, thanks to the enthusiasm and passion of all participating companies and organisations.
For Way2Global, which was awarded in the small enterprise category, it was an additional tribute the community of benefit corporations (B Corps), which are our ultimate inspiration. Focus on people and their respective needs has always been a driving force for us. It is no coincidence that at B Corp certification audits, based on BIA (B Impact Assessment), the rigorous system used to determine company ratings across 5 categories that define all-round operation (Governance, People, Society, Environment, Market), the highest partial score we have achieved has been in the "Workers" macro-area. Nor is it a coincidence that the happiness of people, namely the employees and stakeholders gravitating around our company, is a cornerstone of our business purpose, as stated in our Articles of Association.
The articulate system of policies and best practices for benefits, equal opportunity and work-life balance for all employees implemented by Way2Global since its incorporation is also codified in a 2nd level integrative agreement which guarantees maximum flexibility for workers: smart working options, a fundamental principle of our organisation model, flexible working hours and locations, the hour bank, part-time upon request, etc.
At Way2Global no one is required to clock in or out, all employees are free to manage themselves autonomously, based on their own logistical requirements, in order to foster self-empowerment grounded in results.
Striking the right work-life balance is also favoured by a wide range of time-saving services activated to benefit employees and contractors alike: an online catering service coordinated by the front office for the chance to eat meals in a dedicated, fully furnished and equipped break and dining rooms, online shopping with delivery at the company, a laundry service with collection and delivery at the company, or online ordering and delivery of medicines, a home car washing service and much more.
For the well-being of people, Way2Global has its very own gym with a rich programme of sports activities free of charge (yoga, functional workout, cross-fitness, GAG workouts, walking), available to employees during working hours.
In-house meetings are normally held at times that do not interfere with after-work commitments. Smart working options enable workers to remotely connect from home if they are physically absent from the office.
The net prevalence of women at the company (12:4 ratio) has spontaneously induced us to develop measures congenial to maternity and the return to work of new mothers: work continuity solutions by leveraging digital channels, child pay, reduction of business trips and a "slow work" regimen to reduce commitments and requirements for women who return after maternity leave, favouring gradual and peaceful resumption of duties.
But Way2Global does not stop there. Its corporate culture is comparable to an intensive experimentation workshop, determined to embrace trends and innovation in the social sphere as well. What really overturns gender and equal opportunity stereotypes is that one of the main beneficiaries of customised parental leave policy — which goes far beyond legal requirements — is a separated father in top management, who is determined to be an involved father and take care of all three of his school-age children. Proof that striking the right work-life balance is not gender specific, but intrinsic to the specific person, who is identified, characterised and made unique by special life needs..
“We are a small company, but when it comes to sustainability and social innovation, we are second to none. We want to think big and prove that, by networking, even a small company like ours can contribute toward transforming the world into a better place!"
Laura Gori, Founder & CEO of Way2Global
Because, in the words of the President of the Lombardy Region Equal Opportunities Council, Letizia Caccavale : “Investing in reconciling work and life is not just a corporate duty, it is also a way of increasing the happiness of employees, mindful of the fact that happy people achieve the best results.”