Both the culture and Cyprus’ institutional framework need to be changed if inclusivity in the workplace is ever to be achieved, Energy and Commerce Minister Natasa Pilides highlighted on Wednesday.
Speaking during a conference aimed at ensuring diversity, equality, inclusion and belonging for the LGBTI+ community in the workplace, she added that education plays a key role in allowing such matters to be embraced by society and initiatives that can combine diversity with entrepreneurship.
All together, these contribute to a better integration of LGBTI+ members in society and the workplace, she said.
The conference titled ‘Empowering an Evolving Workforce: Unleashing the Power of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging for the LGBTI+ Community’ was co-organised by Cyprus’ ministries of labour, justice and foreign affairs; the UK’s equality ministry, Cyta and the employers and industrialists federation (OEV).
Also speaking at the conference was deputy OEV director Costas Christofides, who said that businesses which accept diversity become far more productive, original and attract better talents. Despite the progress in Cyprus over the past few years, efforts must continue to change the way LGBTI+ members are accepted, he added.
According to Pilides, the government’s focus lies on two key pillars. The first, on the institutional framework which has seen ‘substantiative steps forward’ such as the first national strategy aiming at improve the quality of life for members of the LGBTI+ community.
There is also the memorandum between Cyprus and the UK in taking joint initiatives, as well as the government’s bill on legally recognising gender identity. There are still many changes that need to take place so as to remove exclusion for any members of society, she added.
The second pilar concerns a change of culture where both the state and government play a key role. This is done across ministries, institutions and government services, by aiming to integrate people from different groups in both a social and workplace setting, Pilides highlighted.
Discussing the importance of the government analysing developments, the minister said this could be more effective by making this part of the conditions linked to government grants on environment, social and governance concerns.
British High Commissioner to Cyprus Irfan Siddiq said both the UK and Cyprus have achieved a lot over the past few years individually on a national level, but also jointly through their common course of action in the Council of Europe.
He added businesses can play a key role in promoting inclusivity and integration in the workforce, highlighting the UK’s ‘Inclusive Britain’ plan published in March 2022, outlining tools to examine data on combating inequality in workplaces.