Inclusion beyond borders
A path based on listening, awareness and acceptance on the part of employees of the Polish branch of Avio Aero, where individuality is central.
Talking about inclusion is easy; making it a reality within the organization is a different story. This also applies to large multinationals that have a well-defined vision and policies: “walk the talk” is the greatest challenge. All the more so if the company is spread across different geographical areas that inevitably "feel" the weight of the political and cultural context of the country where they operate.
Avio Aero took up the challenge of following words with deeds, and set off on an unequivocal path towards inclusion, albeit differentiated with respect to the varied sensitivities and locations of its facilities and communities of reference.
An emblematic example can be seen at the Avio Aero plant in Bielsko-Biala, Poland which, despite the upheaval affecting the country on the human rights front, wanted to link with all its employees - from managers to operators - on a journey of self-awareness concerning the issues of diversity and inclusion.
“For inclusion to be authentic, it has to reflect people’s feelings,” said Jacek Przygoda, Plant Leader of the Polish facility. “The relevance of inclusion issues changes under the weight of the cultural, social and political context and, to understand where to start, we decided to initiate a process of internal reflection that started with a population-wide survey. We asked questions to our employees and then created our own ranking of priorities on which to take action. No topic was excluded, however, each is dealt with according to people's expectations. Topics such as disability, ageing, i.e., the ageing of the company population and the coexistence of younger generations, parenting in its broadest sense, and the integration of different cultures and nationalities reflect the reality within our facility. With this as a starting point, we can work on the critical areas that colleagues feel most closely reflect their situation,” continued Przygoda.
“For our company, one that has embraced a Lean culture, listening is the prerequisite for every type of business,” said Paulina Gladysz HR Manager at Bielsko Biala. “As with the business, the process of building our culture of inclusion must be participatory and bring together all voices within the company. Inclusion is a fundamental component of our business and concern all of us and it is not something remote or separate. Only by starting from our daily reality, analysing what's there and what's missing, are we then able to focus on personal development and, at the same time, grow the company through the development of new ideas and perspectives. Without considering reality, we would be stuck in a self-referential trap. In practical terms, we have followed up the quantitative survey with moments of in-depth qualitative analysis: because there are significant differences of meaning from one function to another on the same issues, and between the outputs of different focus groups - necessarily limited in terms of numbers - through which we feed conversations on internal social networks to broaden the discussion across the entire organization"
"Only when we are free to truly be ourselves can we make our best contribution and a positive difference"
This inside-out approach has resulted in a real campaign to sensitize staff, raise awareness and promote the idea of how much difference two words - inclusion and diversity - can make within the organization.
“The campaign concept is “Akceptacja ponad granicami” (Acceptance beyond boundaries) - which focuses on the word “JA”, “I” in Polish - and the goal is to remind us of the contribution each of us can make in creating a working environment that is based on awareness of others’ value,” continued Jacek Przygoda. “In addition, it emphasizes the importance of respect, tolerance and the value of the individual, which is the greatest asset of our community. Only when we are free to truly be ourselves can we make our best contribution and a positive difference."
The campaign launch was entrusted to the communication team in coordination with Magdalena Bertaina, Avio Aero's Compliance Manager, Polish by birth but Italian by adoption, who works in the Brindisi office. “I was involved in the project through the I&D Council as an interpreter of the sensitivities of the two countries,” said Magdalena. “Quite often the activities developed centrally have been given a cold reception in Poland compared to expectations, and the desire was to understand and design a project that was completely tailor-made. A great collective journey was born. We are fortunate to work for a company where inclusion and diversity are core values and our people need to remember that, in this protected environment, they are free to express their individuality. That's our goal, and #freetobe is our belief.”