IMS Diversity Awards

Diversity: from ‘mainstream’ to little-known practices

Nancy Thomas, director of IMS Luxembourg, noted two trends in the entries received for the Diversity Awards: practices that have become “mainstream,” a sign of the success of the awareness-raising measures introduced in recent years. Others are more original. IMS stands for “Inspiring More Sustainability.” Photo: Sebastien Goossens (archives)

Nancy Thomas, director of IMS Luxembourg, noted two trends in the entries received for the Diversity Awards: practices that have become “mainstream,” a sign of the success of the awareness-raising measures introduced in recent years. Others are more original. IMS stands for “Inspiring More Sustainability.” Photo: Sebastien Goossens (archives)

Support for young talent, working hours, sexual orientation and disability are among the issues most cited by the candidates for the Diversity Awards, while interculturality is still not given enough attention, according to IMS director Nancy Thomas. An update ahead of the annual awards ceremony.

Which companies are models in terms of diversity? The answer will come on Thursday 28 September starting at 6pm, during the IMS Luxembourg Diversity Awards to be held at the Kinepolis in Kirchberg. In the meantime, the director of the organisation, Nancy ThomasNancy Thomas, talked about the trends at this year’s event.

‘Mainstream’ practices

“On the one hand, we have companies with ‘mainstream,’ less innovative practices, which have slightly less chance of winning an award,” Thomas said of the 24 entries received. “But this allows us to see that these initiatives are becoming commonplace in organisations, and so much the better, because it means that they are reproducing practices and trying to go further. On the other hand, we have entries with new ideas.”

They were divided “more or less equally” between the four categories: “Recruitment, induction and integration,” “Career management,” “Environment and wellbeing at work” and “Communication and organisational values.”

Frequently recurring themes and practices...

Among these "mainstream" practices, Thomas listed:

- “Mentoring in all areas of employment.” This particularly concerns “age management, recruiting younger people and pairing them up with people who have been there for a long time to help them integrate.”

- “Quite a few organisations are also working on work-life balance,” she said. “Teleworking, flexible working hours... More and more people are discussing working hours, a different distribution of working hours over the week or the month, and we’re seeing four-day weeks or two weeks of nine days out of ten.”

- There are also “issues that have been addressed by IMS, such as sexual orientation in the workplace and disability.” For example, “working with associations that are active on these issues is the first step in raising awareness within the organisation, by getting them to explain the reality on the ground. We can hear from the people concerned. Some waste time using their brains to invent stories to hide who they really are. When it comes to disability, others will hide their pain in order to appear successful, because they’re afraid of not fitting into an organisation’s culture, which adds mental suffering to their physical suffering. So a company that says ‘come as you are and we’ll adapt so that you can work in the best possible conditions’ is sending out an important message.”

... and more original ideas

It was difficult for Thomas to reveal the most original practices without betraying the secrecy of the applications. A 20-strong pre-selection panel has chosen three nominees per category (12 companies), who will be announced at the awards ceremony on 28 September. During the event, another jury--whose members include the chairman of IMS, Christian ScharffChristian Scharff, and the former family and integration minister, who is also the patron of the Diversity Charter, Corinne CahenCorinne Cahen (DP), among others--will announce the four winners. The criteria will be innovation, replicability and relevance over time.

However, the director of IMS pointed to “anything to do with employee training. It may not sound innovative when you put it like that, but there aren’t that many companies really investing in training on diversity and inclusion issues. If we’re not part of a process that involves the whole organisation, it may not be understood by everyone.”

What’s still missing...

And what are the diversity issues that we don’t hear enough about in companies? “Everything to do with interculturality,” said Thomas. “Some companies say ‘we have X number of employees from X number of different countries, so we deal with this subject very well.’ But no, just because you have a certain number of cultures in the organisation doesn’t mean it’s managed in the right way. That’s what companies should be working on a bit more. The issue of racism in Luxembourg is a subject on which there are things to be done, but which is little talked about.”

How can we measure the impact of diversity measures in companies?

Training, awareness-raising... What are the concrete impacts of diversity measures in companies? “There’s more richness in the exchanges and points of view, and so the organisation is innovative. If we’re all the same around the table, we’ll find the same solution to the problem. If I invite someone from another country, with different issues, they’ll bring different ideas. Especially in the corporate world, where we tend to recruit people with profiles similar to our own.”

In any case, more and more companies are making efforts in this direction, according to IMS. Its Diversity Charter has 291 signatories. There were 188 in 2019 and 230 in 2022. Although this is a charter of commitment, it is not accompanied by verification of the actions taken.

The number of applications for the Diversity Awards, Thomas said, is “stable.”

Originally published in French by Paperjam and translated for Delano