More workplace equality planned for Greek firms

The Corporate Social Responsibility Network last Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Ministry for a joint action plan lasting three years. This is destined to add good practices to more sectors of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the network’s 82 company members. «It is a matter of course that we cannot achieve progress and development today if we keep accepting passively any social stereotypes and leave on the sidelines of economic action half of our population which nowadays has equal if not superior knowledge, abilities, talent and will to contribute dynamically in economic and social developments,» said Nikos Analytis, the network’s president. The memorandum’s primary aim is to inform and motivate companies to adopt and enforce policies, actions and measures which promote and secure equal opportunities between men and women at work. This is a particularly positive move and signifies a recognition of Greek reality: that the existing discriminations – which include limited participation in employment, increased participation in unemployment, a difference in salaries and in development opportunities, professional separation and insufficient training – have consequences that hamper productivity, growth and competitiveness in Greece as its human resources are not used efficiently. The action plan agreed upon provides for companies to include all gender-related data in their social reports and to provide figures such as the good practices evaluation methods applied to promote equal opportunities between men and women. Special provisions also include the preparation of programs to help working mothers re-enter the company after a long absence, as well as encouraging the use of paternity leave for working fathers. The General Secretariat for Equality, whose initiative brought about this cooperation, wants to give an «Equality Award» each year to the company that distinguishes itself for its positive activity in equality. The criteria for its awarding will be formed in association with the CSR Network. In the context of the event staged at the office of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) for the signing of the memorandum, two important network members presented their good practices in the domain of equality. The first company was British Petroleum Hellas SA, which was one of the three firms in the world rewarded this year by the prestigious international organization Catalyst, based in the US. The second was Emporiki Bank, chosen to participate in the ETHIBEL Sustainability Index because its policy in the equal opportunities domain is exemplary in the Greek and European banking sector. According to the evaluation by SAM Research (in 2005) for Dow Jones Sustainability Index, Emporiki Bank ranked high in the domain of human resources development in the banking market.