The importance of diversity in the workplace

With the ‘World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development’ this Sunday, the 21st of May, we look at the importance of diversity in the workplace with MEP Dimitrios Papadimoulis. Mr Papadimoulis is the European Parliament’s Vice-President of Parliament responsible for gender equality and diversity, and the Chair of the Bureau’s High-Level Group on the subject.

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It is with great delight that I contribute my thoughts on the importance of diversity in the workplace to the blog published by The British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium. Workplace diversity is important for a wide range of reasons. With the current workforce demographics shift, the emergence of global markets and consequential globalisation, diversity in the workplace mirrors this societal change. Not only is diversity an ethical concept but it can also contribute to increased productivity and problem-solving. A broader range of talents with diverse experience and knowledge results in wider collaboration to resolve issues. We can use this occasion to reflect upon the importance of diversity and gender equality, those improvements which could and must be made within the EU and the need to promote diversity, inclusion and positive change on a global scale. The European Parliament must be seen to consciously and consistently advocate for full gender equality and diversity, in line with the EU Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The most important problems that have been widely observed refer to weak gender parity when it comes to job quality, equal access and job development. In this respect, remuneration gaps and the globally low rate of women holding executive positions is something we should finally deal with. Gender discrimination still exists and women still be trailed in the workplace.

Furthermore, many studies have shown that gender diversity, albeit secured by human rights convention and adopted in variable business codes, has a positive impact on innovation, productivity and profitability. Nonetheless, in many EU member-states gender inequality persists as young women still find it harder than young men to enter the labour market whereas sexual, physical or psychological violence are not inclusively and successfully addressed.


As the European Parliament’s Vice-President of Parliament responsible for gender equality and diversity, and as Chair of the Bureau’s High-Level Group on the subject, this event is of significant importance. To achieve equal access and treatment for every human being, regardless of their gender and sexual orientation, the European Parliament should further to continue its focus on diversity. Equality and diversity are integral to the values of not only our institution, but those of all EU bodies. At the European Parliament, our pursuit of achieving a vision of equality and diversity in the workplace is highlighted – for example – in our fostering of an open, inclusive working environment for women and men alike (including those persons with disabilities). Additionally, we have a long-standing history of combating the glass ceiling which potentially infringes on individuals’ access to decision-making positions.

Held every year on the 21st May since its assembly by the United Nations in 2002, the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development emphasises the essential role of intercultural dialogue for achieving peace and sustainable development. This day is an opportunity to help communities to understand the value of cultural diversity and learn how to live together in harmony. It was adopted in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Cultural diversity is an unavoidable aspect of society which should always be embraced and of which we should never be afraid. Our differences and our ability to live side-by-side without assimilation or appropriation are vital to promoting intercultural dialogue and social cohesion.

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On an individual basis, I presented, on behalf of the High-Level Group on Gender Equality and Diversity, a report entitled ‘Gender Equality in the European Parliament Secretariat – state of play and the way forward 2017-2019’, which the Bureau adopted on 16 January 2017. We are committed to work and achieve our goals for the coming period, further improve working conditions, tackle existing policy gaps, and turn this institution, and the EU broadly, a place where gender equality and diversity should no longer be an issue of debate.

Greater representation of a wider demographic irrespective of gender, race, disability or religion helps to increase the level of democratic representation of all EU citizens. The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is an international observance sanctioned by the United-Nations and encourages concrete action to support both gender equality and diversity.

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EU institutions are fortunate enough to comprise of a wide range of individuals from varying cultures; speaking numerous official EU languages yet harmoniously coming together to achieve a wider aim. The world day for Cultural Diversity seeks to bring awareness to the importance of combating polarization and stereotypes and promotes intercultural dialogue. I am proud that we at the EU Parliament, through everyday gestures and actions, demonstrate that this is an aim which can realistically be achieved.

The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is an effective means of raising awareness. We are all invited to promote the values of cultural diversity and dialogue on a global sphere. No act is too small. Through integration you can use this observation to embrace different cultures, religions and language communities. Through sharing your own customs and values, you can help others to experience those things to which they are not normally accustomed.

To see more of Dimitrios Papadimoulis’s work visit his website:
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