Webinar Best corporate practices of Diversity at Work

New Diversity at Work Champions Presented Their Successful Entries to the Responsible Business Community

The best practice webinar was hosted by Diversity Charter Bulgaria and is part of European Diversity Month 2023

For the third time in a row, Diversity Charter Bulgaria*, a joint initiative of the Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum (BBLF) and the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) held a webinar on best practice of diversity, equality and inclusion in a corporate environment. The event aims to encourage policies of respect and acceptance of differences, and promote winners of Diversity at Work category within BBLF’s prestigious Annual Responsible Business Awards while providing a platform for exchange of ideas, practical experience and success stories.

Official guests of the webinar held on 4 April 2023 were Prof. Dr. Ana Dzhumalieva, Commission for Protection against Discrimination Chair, Jana Kukuckova, Diversity and Inclusion Policy Officer with the European Commission, Dimitar Markov, CSD‘s Law Programme Director, and Levon Hampartzoumian, BBLF Chair.  

Speakers included senior managers at Lidl Bulgaria, HPE Bulgaria, Shell Bulgaria, the companies that ranked first, second and third, respectively in the 20th Annual Responsible Business Awards. They presented their successful entries and took questions from the audience.

More than 50 representatives of companies that have already signed the Bulgarian Charter, member companies of BBLF, or the responsible business community, and D&I experts from the public, private and civil sectors attended the webinar.

An event of Diversity Charter Bulgaria, the webinar took place in the context of EU Diversity Month 2023 to be celebrated in May in all EU member states. The large-scale initiative is taking place for the fourth consecutive year and aims to combat discrimination and promote diverse and inclusive workplaces and thus a spirit of mutual respect in societies across the EU.

Official guests

The discussion in Bulgaria also aims to promote the advantages and spread corporate best practice. In his welcome address BBLF Chair Levon Hampartzoumian said the Diversity Charter is part of BBLF’s efforts to modernise this country, make it a better place to work and live, and keep it in the European orbit to which it belongs. “Every little step along this way, every project or campaign that creates an equal and inclusive environment for the benefit of all, makes a huge difference. We are grateful for all entries in the 20th edition of our Annual Responsible Business Awards’ where we recently introduced a diversity category, your trust, good example and success motivate many other companies and organisations,” he said.

Dimitar Markov, CSD‘
s Law Programme Director who was the event moderator, reminded CSD and BBLF worked together to launch in 2020 the Bulgarian Diversity Charter, which continues to grow and attract like-minded people and organisations. “It is crucial for us that the Charter is part of the big family of the EU Platform of Diversity Charters. We are happy to have the opportunity to draw on the knowledge and experience accumulated there, and to export our good practices at the EU level,” he added.

Jana Kukuckova
, Diversity and Inclusion Policy Officer with the EU Platform of Diversity Charters  joined from Brussels, saying the Platform brings together 26 charters in EU countries, signed by more than 15,000 companies and organisations and more than 16 million employees. “The Bulgarian Charter is also part of this process of promoting a Union of equality by contributing the various activities and events of its signatories. We are pleased to commend not only the winner and finalists, but all who applied for the Diversity at Work Award as every change in small companies or large corporations has a direct impact on people’s lives and inspires your colleagues across Europe.”

The discussion was also attended by Prof. Dr. Ana Dzhumalieva, Chair of the Commission for Protection against Discrimination (CPD), the institution that monitors equality, equal treatment and non-discrimination, solves specific cases and carries out prevention (presentation). The CPD has been a natural and reliable partner of the Charter since its inception. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Dzhumalieva is also a member of the jury that evaluates the entries in the diversity category of BBLF’s Annual Responsible Business Awards.

Diversity at Work Champions 2023

This year’s edition of BBLF’s prominent  corporate social responsibility, sustainability and diversity competition saw an upsurge of entries in Diversity at Work category that promotes the benefits and encourages a culture of equality and respect in the workplace. A total of 12 companies, or 25% more than the previous year, competed for the prestigious award, a clear sign of the growing importance of D&I among employers and employees. AstraZeneca, Shell, IBM, HPE, Accenture, Paysafe, Danone Serdika, Yettel, Imperia Online, Prestige-96, Solvay Sodi and Lidl submitted their entries.

The grand prize went to Lidl, while HPE and Shell were finalists. It was the three companies recognized by the jury that were invited to present their successful campaigns in the second part of the webinar.

Raia Tzvetkova, PhD, Employer Branding Manager, and Valeria Doycheva, Senior Consultant Training and Development and Head of Diversity & Inclusion Programme, presented Lidl Palette – a project for inclusion of people from different groups, which earned Lidl Bulgaria the first prize. “At Lidl we believe in D&I benefits: unlocking people’s potential, developing leadership within the company and supporting the diverse Lidl ecosystem globally, and locally. As strong advocates of this idea, we strive to find like-minded supporters.”, Valeria Doycheva said. “A key factor for the programme’s success is our partners: civil society organisations, but also schools, universities, employers’ organisations, as well as our employees. Our target groups include young people, minorities, also women, refugees, migrants, society at large. We are keen on spreading the word about our initiatives to motivate everyone else and set a good example.”, Raia Tzvetkova said. Highlights of the Lidl Palette programme include: Gen Z; Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Certification Academy; a programme for Ukrainian nationals’ relocation to Bulgaria; and multiple social good partnerships (presentation).

For the first time ever, the Diversity Award enables the winner Lidl Bulgaria to take part in the official opening ceremony of EU Diversity Month in Brussels on 28 April.

Radoslava Petkova, WW Presales, TCP Programme Manager, Global YEN Board Member, HPE Bulgaria, presented the Diversity and Inclusion programme for unconditional acceptance, unbiased work environment and equality for diverse talents, which ranked HPE Bulgaria at the prestigious second place. “The power of our initiatives and the opportunities they unlock are due to HPE’s corporate culture. We promote unconditional inclusion, and our employees’ diverse perspectives, ideas and experiences contribute to our common goal of improving the way people live and work.”, she said. A key driver of D&I campaigns at HPE Bulgaria are the resource groups of volunteers who enthusiastically deliver meaningful initiatives. Another crucial success factor is the long-term collaboration with 60+ NGOs, which leads to great impact, good results and an ever growing network of supporters outside the company as well. This year’s entry featured HPE Bulgaria Abilities Talks, a week-long forum for internal and external participants about the challenges and achievements of people with different abilities, and Celebrating PRIDE Together, which focuses on equality and inclusion for the LGBT+ community (presentation).

Zlatina Rakshieva, Marketing and Business Development Manager in the Business Customers Department and head of the DE&I Network at Shell Bulgaria, presented the campaign Unique People. Stronger Together which ranked third. Shell’s long-term goal is to be one of the most diverse and inclusive organisations globally where employees, customers, suppliers and partners feel valued and respected. Locally, the company is a founding member of Diversity Charter Bulgaria. “Our success in  DE&I is based on the company’s high standards, policies, goals, and environment, where the volunteer team manages to engage employees.”, she said. Shell focuses on four areas: gender equality, race and ethnicity, people with special needs and the LGBTQ+ community, all of which have proven success and progress. The company is keen to collaborate with business colleagues on this (presentation).

All speakers stressed their willingness to share experience with and spread good practice among partners from the business sector. The Bulgarian Diversity Charter kindly suggests a number of ways to do that:

  • If you are not yet a member of the Bulgarian Charter, sign it online and join the community of organisations that give employees and talents an equal chance.
  • Join EU Diversity Month 2023 by visiting the website now, check out the map of initiatives in member countries and get inspired. If you already have events or activities planned, put them on the map so they are visible to companies and people across the EU.
  • Watch online the launch of EU Diversity Month, featuring officials and remarkable speakers, on 28 April live from Brussels.
  • Find out about NICE programme for neutral and inclusive communication in corporate environments, which is being implemented by Diversity Charters in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania and Romania. Stay tuned for details on upcoming trainings and useful resources.
  • Fill in our online questionnaire to study the environment and collect experience, comments and good practice of inclusive communication in the workplace (it takes about 10 minutes).
  • Save the date of 12 May when the annual meeting of Diversity Charter signatories old and new will take place – the official certificate of membership ceremony is an excellent opportunity to meet, network and discuss future partnerships.