Spain embraces benefits of more diversity at work

Spanish companies are embracing diversity as the business benefits of a
varied workforce become clear.

At the annual congress of the Spanish personnel directors organisation, AEDIPE,
in Cordoba this month, Fernando Vargas, director of internal communications at
catering firm VIPS, said that workplace diversity is now a social and economic
necessity and is a strategic issue in his company.

VIPS has incorporated diversity into company strategy in a bid to overcome
recruitment difficulties, he said.

The company, which has just signed a joint venture deal with Starbucks
International to form Starbucks Espana, employs 6,500 staff, of whom 2,700 are
non-Spanish.

Vargas said the company mission statement – a result of brainstorming
sessions involving all staff – urges staff to respect people, value their
diversity, understand the success associated with working in a team and
contribute positively to society.

VIPS hires staff from across the globe, targeting countries such as Ecuador,
Columbia, Morocco and Poland. It offers all new staff a personal development
plan and an intensive induction programme to help them settle.

Other speakers at the conference also spelled out their belief that
diversity makes sound business sense.

Chairman of Mastercard International, Baldomero Falcones, said an
organisation’s ability to react to change was its best tool. One of the best
ways to do this was to manage diversity effectively.

"To survive, firms must be able to accommodate change, respecting and
letting live the differences between staff, giving diverse people
opportunities," he said.

Angel Cordoba, deputy HR director of savings bank Caja Madrid, said that HR
professionals must stop seeing diversity as a threat.

"They must turn it into a competitive advantage, paying attention more
to core competencies than to race, age and sex," he said. "Any
problems and mistakes that arise from accepting diversity will always be much
less that those firms will encounter if they reject diversity."

By Liz Hall in Spain

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