How Employee Networks Have Become a Growing Practice for Progress in Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

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How Spanish Top Employers are Leveraging Their Employee Networks
Miquel Calvet

By Miquel Calvert, Communications Manager Spain, Top Employers Institute 

In 2023, Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) networks, formed by employees who advise in areas such as equality, disability, generational coexistence, or LGTBIQ+, are on the rise in top organisations. The use of these employee networks in Spanish organisations is becoming more common, especially among Top Employers. In this article, we are looking deeper at four Spanish Top Employers, including Zurich, ACCIONA, Michelin, and ILUNION, who are excellent examples of organisations successfully implementing such networks. 

80% of Top Employers in Spain have consistently implemented these networks, 11% more than the average of certified organisations at the European level. Employee networks aim to identify the needs of all groups within the organisation and contribute to considering relevant perspectives and trends in Diversity and Inclusion in all Human Resources processes. 

D&I networks can be internal (e.g., women's networks or employee resource groups) or external (forums on various D&I topics organised by specialised entities). 

"These diversity networks, in addition to contributing to a sense of belonging, help prevent situations of discrimination, incorporate inclusive perspectives, and improve people processes such as talent acquisition, leadership, work model, or organisational culture," emphasises Massimo Begelle, Regional Manager at Top Employers Institute in Spain and Italy. 

These networks are integrated into the overall diversity and inclusion strategy, coordinated with other best practices such as diversity champions, who are volunteer employees acting as promoters of various diversities (46% of certified organisations already have them), or leadership training to serve as models for D&I (85% of companies). 

Zurich, ACCIONA, Michelin, and ILUNION are excellent examples of organisations that have successfully implemented such networks.

Read More: The Benefits of Crafting an Employee-Led Employer Branding Strategy 

Zurich: A Team of Volunteers for All Diversities 

At Zurich Insurance, they are clear: under the motto Brave, proud of their colours and because of this pride, they have developed a strategy based on the belief that a diverse team makes a difference. Following this premise, they are building an open company where all people are welcome, and the well-being of each individual is essential. 

As part of this ambition, the people at Zurich have created the Allies Programme, consisting of a team of volunteers from different collectives, ages, and backgrounds. They have created initiatives for many diversities in their organisation, focusing on four pillars of their inclusive attitude: Gender and Functional Diversity, Pride, and Intergenerational Dialogue. 

#IamYourAlly is the battle cry with which they want to be very close to those who need the support of the programme, openly highlighting situations of discrimination. In addition to being part of the decision-making on the D&I agenda, they regularly meet with the Management Committee to monitor initiatives. They also actively participate in various events, such as Pride Day, March 8th, or the awareness campaign on unconscious biases. Read More: Unleashing The Power of Employee Networks: Insights from Tata Consultancy Services UK & Ireland 

ACCIONA: Diversity Committees Representing All Collectives 

Placing people at the centre and contributing to real transformation is part of ACCIONA's purpose. Therefore, PEOPLE is the global strategy they have outlined, integrating Diversity and Inclusion as a fundamental pillar and having internal networks to scale this commitment throughout the organisation. 13 Diversity and Inclusion Committees comprise the internal networks that drive best practices and connect people in business and countries. They are formed by groups of professionals representing all collectives and sharing the mission of collecting information from their environment and generating proposals and initiatives on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. While creating a sense of community and belonging, the committees promote an inclusive workplace aligned with the company's purpose, values, and objectives.

Read More: Becoming LGBTQ+ Allies: Going Beyond DEI Initiatives for Pride Month 

ILUNION: Networks to Address the Needs of Different Collectives 

ILUNION is committed to diversity, demonstrating that it can be profitable and competitive while promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. 

At ILUNION, they work to promote the employment inclusion of people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups with specific needs related to their sexual orientation, gender, age, origin, etc. They are proud of their diversity, reflected in all company and business areas. 

Companies within ILUNION have Equality Plans that guarantee equal treatment and opportunities between women and men. Also, coinciding with the European Diversity Month in May, ILUNION joins the European initiative with various actions such as training, dissemination, and in-person events on different topics. 

They also coordinate with critical networks involved in diversity management, especially in the workplace. Among other actions, these networks identify the needs of collectives and assess how to address them within ILUNION with its policies and activities that directly impact the workforce and other external actions that contribute knowledge and help the diversity management network become increasingly knowledgeable and professional.  

Read More: How to Manage and Succeed with a Multigenerational Workforce 

Michelin's Women Forward Network 

In Michelin Spain and Portugal, since 2007, they have been committed to diversity and inclusion as a vital element of the People policy, confirmed in 2010 with the signing of their first Equality Plan. 

In 2014, the Michelin Group launched the Women Forward network, in which women from all areas of the company participate, sharing experiences and leading initiatives, allowing the visibility of new ways to progress in the field of diversity and inclusion within Michelin: they have significantly increased the presence of women in industrial environments, female presence in management positions has advanced similarly, and they have simultaneously improved the culture and perception of diversity at all levels of the company. 

Similarly, as a leading company in the country's industrial sector, they participate in external networks such as "Women and Engineering" and the "STEM Alliance for Female Talent," where, together with other companies, they seek to attract young women to STEM studies to highlight the need for female talent in industrial environments. 

Read More: Recruit, Retain and Return – ‘3Rs’ for International Women’s Day 

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How Employee Networks Have Become a Growing Practice for Progress in Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

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