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5 strategies for building an inclusive work culture

Fostering inclusion and equity for LGBTQ+ employees, globally and locally
celebrating pride month
Nestlé's Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion shares her thoughts on how to foster inclusion and equity for LGBTQ+ employees, globally and locally.

Fostering an open and accepting environment for every employee is my top priority at Nestlé and an ongoing effort across our business. We've made strides in establishing a more inclusive culture for our LGBTQ+ employees, and Pride Month brings the opportunity to reflect on key tools to continue to drive progress in our own organization, and more broadly.

A few lessons from our continuing journey stand out.

1. Find the right 'glocal' approach to culture and support

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) is not a short-term strategy or an area that can be taken for granted. It's critical to our values, and it's a competitive necessity. The business case for DE&I is clear. It leads to better innovation, greater employee engagement (pdf, 1Mb), and stronger business performance (pdf, 1Mb).

Nestlé emplyees

At Nestlé, we understand this deeply. As a company whose workforce comprises 176 nationalities and 276,000 employees, we find that barriers to equity, cultural dynamics, and employee needs are widely varied. So, when we look at our DE&I strategy, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Important moments to reflect, like Pride Month, can look different from one Nestlé market to another. What we prioritize for all Nestlé teams is the end objective: Making sure that LGBTQ+ employees feel supported and empowered at work to be their whole selves. That's why our goals start with a strong foundation.

2. Set a global foundation for inclusion

Working for a global company, our LGBTQ+ employees have varied and diverse experiences, yet our commitment to our values must stay consistent. We've established global policies and standards that seek to tackle discrimination and promote a culture of respect, no matter where we are.

At a global level, that starts with making our own values crystal clear through our global advocacy partnerships as well as company-wide policies. For example, we have supported the UN's Standards of Conduct for Business: Tackling Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans & Intersex People since 2018. Around the world, we empower both employees and external partners to report any potential violations of those values through Speak Up reporting. When we develop our own People policies, we aim to build-in equal access in each dimension.

Our greatest happiness is our daughter. When my husband and I were going through the adoption process...

Our Global Parental Support Policy is gender-neutral to ensure that equal benefits are offered to same-sex and different-sex couples. And we know that policies and benefits can only be accessed equally with the support and understanding of leaders, so our policy efforts are supported by actionable trainings on how to mitigate bias in management decisions. Our hope is that setting a core foundation of equity can then support local teams to grow their diversity, equity, and inclusion actions in ways that respond to the local needs and context of their employees.

3. Empower employees to drive local change for local needs

When it comes to more detailed benefits, resources, and support networks, we're committed to giving local teams the opportunity to shine. DE&I efforts rely heavily on prioritizing local employee feedback and insights, usually through employee-led resource groups, as well as partnering with local experts to understand and build on best practices.

When I started my career, I put up barriers. I thought my career would be at stake if I showed my full self....

In the Philippines, for example, the Nestlé team was one of the first in the country to extend paid parental leave and other family benefits to same-sex partners. Their team took action to look holistically at the full workplace experience and worked with 'Philippine Financial and Inter-Industry Pride' to change workplace facilities, for example instituting gender-neutral bathrooms at all sites.

Nestlé UK&I launched a transgender inclusion policy to outline specific steps on supporting employees in transition and to assist in access to resources like financial support for medical costs to transition. Through the locally-targeted resources, our teams can support the needs of their employees.

4. Join with local partners to extend community impact and advocacy

In addition to driving equity within our walls, our local teams and brands are also positioned to partner in the communities where we operate, contributing to broader efforts for change.

For instance, in Canada, KitKat launched a special edition bar in partnership with 'Friends of Ruby', where the packaging celebrates 'Chosen Family' and all proceeds contribute to mental health support for LGBTQ+ youth. Nestlé U.S. also engaged employees and local partners on the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ youth and by the community more broadly. The team has joined with peer companies to speak out and oppose potential legislation in the U.S. that is discriminatory.

Nescau video

In Brazil, the Nescau brand highlighted the journey of Safira to promote transgender visibility, while local teams also partnered with Lys University and Bicha da Justiça, an education startup on LGBTQ+ rights, to develop and promote a learning curriculum for skill-building and employability among Brazil's transgender population. With deep knowledge of local challenges and dynamics, our teams can drive broader change beyond our own walls and contribute to the shared ambition of inclusivity.

5. Keep an eye on the future, with a focus on employee feedback loops

Both globally and locally, a critical part of our journey is to assess our progress and key actions yet to come. Many business leaders understand that what gets measured gets changed, so we seek to leverage data to better understand the employee experience of individuals from historically underrepresented groups and identify opportunities for improvement. We also believe these learnings can be accelerated through collaboration with partners to ensure that the progress we're making isn't leaving anyone behind. In 2021, Nestlé joined PGLE (the Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality) which brings together the private sector and civil society to accelerate social and economic inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community.

I’ve never felt like I’ve had to hide my true self. When I joined the Nestlé family, they understood and accepted that ...

By the same token, looking towards the future requires us to create space for employee feedback and understanding how larger trends could be impacting employee groups differently. That may mean re-evaluating support resources given changing needs around mental health, monitoring how the hybrid working environment could impact employees differently, or measuring new indicators like sense of belonging and psychological safety.

Looking ahead

The imperative to foster a good work environment for LGBTQ+ employees is not limited to Pride Month. We hope that our ongoing journey can add value for other companies and professionals on their path to promoting greater inclusion and equity. We still have a long way to go, but it's the work of our local teams and grassroots employee action that are moving the needle.

celebrating pride month

I close by taking this opportunity to say thank you to all our LGBTQ+ employee leaders, allies, and DE&I teams across the company. Thank you for your perspectives and contributions. We couldn't progress in our journey without you.

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