Bulgarian Diversity Charter Held Its First Lab on Inclusive Communication

On 12 December, the Bulgarian Diversity Charter held its first Diversity Communication Lab with representatives of the business and civil society sectors: Charter members, experts and supporters, as well as the teams of Charter co-founders Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD) and Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum (BBLF)

The event was kindly hosted by VIVACOM, one of the signatories to Bulgarian Diversity Charter. It gathered together prominent experts in the field of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) management, human resources and communications from the private sector and representatives of NGOs with extensive experience in working with different vulnerable groups. Representatives of participants from VIVACOM, Shell Bulgaria, HPE Bulgaria, Interlang, Commerzbank Digital Centre, Schwarz IT Bulgaria, Matter Social Café, Synergia Foundation, Caritas Sofia, Bulgarian Donors Forum attended.

The Diversity Communication Lab is the next step of the project NICE (Neutral and Inclusive Communication in Corporate Environments) and aims to discuss and develop communication techniques applicable in the workplace.

Speakers and presentations​

The event was opened by Levon Hampartzumian, Chair of the Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum, and Nikolay Andreev, CEO of VIVACOM. The discussion moderator was Kamelia Slaveykova, Chair of the Board of Directors of Shell Bulgaria, member of the BBLF Board and one of the drivers of the Bulgarian Charter.

In the first part of the event, Maria Stoyanova, Analyst at the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD), presented the NICE programme, which aims to create new and innovative training and capacity-building programs in the field of inclusive communication. Following two recent panel discussions held at the national and international levels, the team in Bulgaria now has the basic parameters for the training materials to be produced, such as target groups, thematic areas, format, indicators of progress on inclusive communication.

The first part of the meeting also featured guest speakers from companies and civil organisations that stand up for and work directly with underrepresented groups. Stanimira Georgieva, ESG Manager of Interlang and Stanimira Chocolate House, shared some practical experience in hiring people with different abilities. Evgeni Mitev, Executive Director of Synergia Foundation, highlighted the specifics of communicating with visually impaired people and the advantages for the teams they are included in. Mariana Petrova, manager of ARTIED Art Inspired Education Studio, presented her work with adults with intellectual disabilities and addressed the challenges for people aged 55+ seeking a career change. Desislava Petkova, Project Manager at Caritas Sofia, introduced the guests to the services the organisation provides to various marginalised groups, including refugees and asylum seekers and highlighted some positive examples of social integration.

Working groups

In the second part of the Lab, participants formed working groups to discuss case studies on four topics: gender-sensitive communication, intergenerational balance, integration of people with different abilities and of people from various ethnic backgrounds, sharing their knowledge, experience, challenges and best practices. Their findings, practical advice and recommendations will contribute to the development of practical training materials on inclusive communication in the five project countries. These will be piloted at a later stage among willing companies and organisations that have signed the Bulgarian Diversity Charter, and then provided free of charge to Charter signatories.

At the end of the event, participants received certificates for their contribution to the NICE programme.