Alessandra Billia, Director People & Organization Enel Romania: Diversity and inclusion are, in fact, an attitude

The attitude in which one accepts a person for what they are, challenging them to get better, placing emphasis on their qualities and skills. In implementing diversity and inclusion, we do not start from the idea of convincing people to do something, but we rather want to make them aware that there are limitations and differences between people, which can gradually be turned into opportunities.


Could you share with us some key milestones in the D&I journey of Enel Romania?

Enel respects human rights and ensures non-discrimination, equal opportunities, and inclusion of diversity everywhere it operates. We believe that these principles are the best allies of innovation and sustainability.

The Group (Romania included) is working to replace boundaries and obstacles with new opportunities leveraging on the unique mix of talents that everyone brings to work. One of Enel’s aims is to make energy available to everyone by developing the potential of the Group’s most precious assets, the people it works with. In every country where staff with disabilities are present, a focal point attends to their specific needs, launching initiatives aimed at improving autonomy and promoting inclusion. The presence of a focal point for staff with disabilities represents a specific target of Enel’s Sustainability Plan. Furthermore, we are committed to enhancing and expanding actions regarding digital accessibility, autonomy, mobility, development and employability of people with disabilities.

We started out in 2013 with the publication of our Human Rights Policy and continued in 2015 by committing to the Women’s Empowerment Principles, promoted by UN Global Compact and UN Women. That was also the year when we published our Diversity and Inclusion Policy. In 2019, Enel has joined the “Valuable 500”, a global movement calling for the participation of 500 private companies aimed at unlocking the business, social and economic value of people living with disabilities across the world. In 2021, following the exceptional 2020, Enel is going forward and sets-up the Value for Disability plan, in order to create an inclusive and accessible environment for current & future employees of the group and for all customers. Main improvement priorities: physical environment, digital platforms and tools, information and communication, internal procedures, services and products for the customers.

We are amid a powerful transformational process, at the end of which our companies will become more fluid. This is a way to quickly adapt to an ever changing economic and social context not only in Romania, but globally, so that our clients’ need are met.

What aspects of diversity management have the highest priority in your company?

Future way of working – We are constantly adapting to new realities, shaping our way of working with a human centric approach, including the feedback, perspective and needs of all our colleagues.
Psychological safety – Our main purpose is to create an inclusive environment, in which everyone feels that they are part of a whole, that their voice is being heard and that, through their skills and abilities, they represent a pillar of development and innovation.
Inclusive mindset – We are building bridges towards diversity and inclusion and creating the organizational space for people to feel authentic and able to express their vulnerabilities, to learn from failures and to grow as individuals and community.

Which D&I activities have been implemented in your organization so far?

• Building a role dedicated to the area of diversity and inclusion.
• Implementing the program Your personal counselor and allowing our colleagues to be supported by specialists in regaining emotional balance, through psychological counseling or coaching, in particular in the context of the pandemic.
• Future way of working - because people's opinions play a fundamental role in choosing how we will carry out our activity in the future, a survey was conducted in which everyone had the opportunity to express their preferences.
• Parental program - parenting while smart working may be challenging, that is why we implemented all kind of activities and workshops, in order to support the actual needs of our colleagues.
• Work – life balance - short Friday: promoting the balance between personal and professional life.
• Promoting women to management roles in order to attract new talents and to gain new perspectives.
• Workshops held at universities, in order to promote gender equality in the recruitment process (women in tech, STEM).
• Designing a country plan for the next three years, including practical actions aimed at integrating people with disabilities, enhancing the accessibility of spaces/platforms, designing services/offers tailored to customers who are part of disadvantaged categories.
Equality in Diversity - workshop promoting the idea of equal rights for people, regardless of their ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or other such discriminatory criteria.
Find your inner Frida Kahlo! – event based on Frieda Kahlo's life, aimed at pointing out the evolution of women in society; topics such as the women-men relationships, bisexuality, biases, infidelity, prejudice, desires, beliefs, evolution were addressed.
Harassment at work – How do you recognize it and what to do? – event organized in order to raise awareness and provide tools on preventing and fighting against this phenomenon.
Wellbeing week - special week, with 2 workshops each day on various topics of interest, such as sport, nutrition, emotional balance, free time, time management and so on.
Building awareness towards disability by organizing a series of events at global and local level, under the name Unlock inclusion.
Diversity podcasts – brief monthly podcasts, sent to all colleagues, on various topics in the area of diversity and inclusion.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by your sector in creating a diverse and inclusive workforce?

• Stereotypes that some roles are adequate only for men and other roles only for women, represent a challenge. Due to this kind of preconceptions, there may have been situations when for a certain position there were only male applicants.
• Due to all changes that we are going through right now in this journey of changing the mindset and becoming more inclusive, but also evolving and adapting to an ever changing social context, maintaining the work-life balance could also be assimilated to a challenge.

What business benefits do you see as a result of increasing D&I?

Innovation - diverse teams have different ideas and perspectives on approaching same situations and that leads to a faster problem solving and a higher decisions’ quality.
Creativity - the unique approach of every team member, based on experience, mentality and vision leads to different ideas and solutions that address the same matter.
Productivity - as long as people feel accepted and confident at work, they are able to focus their entire energy on achieving results.
Adaptability - diverse teams have the capacity to better understand the custumers’ needs and to address them.
Recruitment advantages - people are drawn to companies where they feel included and developing a diversity and inclusion policy enhances the opportunity to attract new talents.
Employee retention - the entire organizational context, the possibility to grow, learn and develop and also an inclusive culture make people feel respected.

Can you name three diversity challenges that companies have to pay attention to?

Communication - due to significant differences between people, the messages should always be adapted and communicated in a manner that is accessible to everyone.
Country culture - change is about evolution, new mentalities, new visions, different ways of approaching and there will always be people fighting against it. Not giving up is the key.
People openness to embrace diversity - implementing diversity and inclusion is a lengthy process, in which awareness campaigns play a very important role, next to persistence, patience and respect.

What do you do to convince your colleagues to see the value in diversity management, or even more to truly get them on board?

Diversity and inclusion are, in fact, an attitude. The attitude in which one accepts a person for what they are, challenging them to get better, placing emphasis on their qualities and skills.

In implementing diversity and inclusion, we do not start from the idea of convincing people to do something, but we rather want to make them aware that there are limitations and differences between people, which can gradually be turned into opportunities.
Since this is a change of mentality, the process is lengthy and everything unfolds gradually.

Any plans for the #EUDiversityMonth this May?

1. Equality in diversity is meant to promote the equality among us, regardless of the ethnicity, sexual orientation, believes and other discriminatory criteria.
2. Diversity & Inclusion Hour is meant to introduce our diversity and inclusion policy to the new hires.
3. Wellbeing week, which aimes to put a smile on everybodys‘ face, considering, in the same time, the need for physical and emotional support.
4. Women’s Empowerment, which aims to improve gender diversity and reduce gender disparity in the company, in order to foster a new corporate culture increasingly focused on the inclusion and personal development of the female colleagues.

Interview by Dana Oancea, Romanian Diversity Charter

This interview was produced with the financial support of the European Union (project Workplace Inclusion Champion WIC). Its contents are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.