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Pride Month is now upon us – an opportunity to review where Nestlé stands on what is an important aspect of diversity and inclusion: LGBT+ inclusion.

This topic has gained visibility in recent years. There is nowadays a broad-based consensus on the need to embrace diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It has been great to witness this positive evolution over the years, says Laz Martinez, Global Head of HR at Nestlé Nespresso, who is a member of the LGBT+ community.

"When I joined the company in 2011, diversity and inclusion of the LGBT+ community was a topic growing on the agenda of many global companies," Laz said, who started his career with Nestlé in the U.S. "The LGBT+ community did not enjoy the level of visibility it does today, nor had it achieved the equality attained today in many parts of the world."

Driving acceptance

Fast forward to the present day, and things have changed for the better, according to Laz.

Laz Martinez
Laz Martinez

Among some of the measures that have helped drive LGBT+ inclusion within Nestlé: the ongoing promotion of our unique set of values 'rooted in respect' as an integral part of the company’s culture, Nestlé’s public pledge to support the UN’s LGBTI Standards of Conduct, the launch of LGBT+ internal employee networks in several markets, as well as the group-wide roll-out of a training program on unconscious bias for Nestlé employees.

It doesn’t stop there: more concrete measures have been taken in many of our markets. For instance, Nestlé offers same-gender couples the same expatriation benefits as opposite-gender couples unless the partner is unable to relocate due to immigration restrictions.

Sandra Grimm, Regional HR Director at Nestlé Purina Petcare, based in Germany, said that because diversity is such a natural aspect of the Nestlé experience – with so many different nationalities interacting on a daily basis – she had no problem fitting in as a LGBT+. Nestlé has succeeded in providing a diverse and inclusive workplace for all, as far as she is concerned.

Nestlé’s inclusion efforts recognized externally

It’s a view shared by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, a non-profit that advocates for LGBT+ equality in the workplace. Nestlé USA and Nestlé Purina in the US were recently both awarded top scores of 100% in the 2019 Human Rights Campaign’s equality index. The index takes into account LGBT+-related policies and practices.

"Nestlé has always supported my husband, Jim, Stella – our dog – and me. My family is treated in the same way as that of my colleagues," Laz said. "I feel this is true both at company and personal levels – I'm proud of this."

When some might be tempted to hide some elements of their identity if they perceive their environment is not supportive – something that is detrimental to both their well-being and performance – Nestlé’s inclusive culture aims at allowing people to bring their whole selves to work.

Our work continues

To be clear, a lot more work needs to be done. "We need to continue to promote LGBT+ inclusion," Laz said. "We need to ensure that our employee programs and initiatives are always inclusive."

Sandra Grimm
Sandra Grimm

It's precisely what Nestlé is doing: regularly reviewing its policies internally to assess, when possible, how those can be improved to be more inclusive.

Sandra, for her part, feels that all the building blocks are in place at Nestlé – if anything, it is down to people to stand tall and to make no apologies for who they are. That's the approach she has personally taken. "I am a very outspoken person, so I do not hide and talk openly about the fact that I am married to a woman," she said. "In all those years I have never had a negative reaction," she said, although she is quick to recognize that not everyone is willing to be so open about his or her private life.

Sandra goes further: "In an ideal world, this whole thing would not even be a topic of discussion at all – because who you decide to spend your free time with, why should this matter?"