In November and December 2023, the Center for the Study of Democracy, as a co-founder of the Bulgarian Diversity Charter together with the Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum, held panel discussions on Neutral and Inclusive Communication in the Workplace. A national and an international event was organised within the framework of the NICE (Neutral and Inclusive Communication in Corporate Environments) initiative.
On 7 November, an event held in Sofia brought together experts in the field of diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), human resources, corporate communications and marketing from companies and civil society organisations that are signatories of the Bulgarian Diversity Charter.
Levon Hampartzoumian, Chair of the Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum, opened the event and noted the growing significance of DE&I policies for sustainable business strategies. Dimitar Markov, Director of CSD’s Law Program, highlighted the key role of the business and non-governmental sectors in countering inequality and discrimination in the workplace. Maria Stoyanova, Analyst at CSD, presented the major findings of the thematic studies integrated in the reports Inclusive Communication in the Workplace: Bulgaria 2023 and From Words to Action: Promoting Inclusive Communication in the Workplace. The CSD team was joined by the lecturers Sofia Lyateva, Project Manager at GLAS Foundation, Rayna Sokolova, psychologist, psychotherapist and trainer, and Blagovest Iliev, communication manager of the World without Borders Association and TV journalist and producer. Kamelia Slaveykova, Chair of the Board of Directors of Shell Bulgaria, member of the Board of the Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum (BBLF) and member of the Advisory Board of the Bulgarian Diversity Charter, moderated the discussion.
During the discussion, the participants explored existing and novel approaches to DE&I management focused on inclusive communication in the workplace. They discussed practical needs on specific topics, identified corporate processes, departments and employees from vulnerable groups at the highest risk of discriminatory language and behaviour, and therefore the need for specialised training on neutral and inclusive communication.
On 5 December, an international panel discussion took place in an online format. Participants from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania and Romania examined similar issues and promising practices for fostering the inclusion of LGBTIQ+ employees, people with disabilities, ethnic and racial minorities who are part of the workforce. Gender disparities, women’s representation in management positions, and raising awareness about neurodiversity and mental health were among the topics raised.