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Embracing the idea of unity in the face of differences

Fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace through the celebration of our workforce’s diversity

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As we mark Pride Month, a panel discussion is helping our staff to reflect on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

With operations in 25 countries and team members from diverse origins and identities, Volcafe is a truly multicultural workplace. Our focus to build a thriving, sustainable coffee business for all applies for the coffee-growing communities we work with, but also for our own workplace.

Although we sometimes see divisive rhetoric and policies deployed in the world of politics, at Volcafe we know that, ultimately, diversity and inclusion bring strength and dynamism to our workplace and our broader societies. We recognise that while we have not all started from the same position, by embracing equity we can close the distances between our relative positions and prosper together.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is a strong pillar of Volcafe’s identity. I want to reassure all of you that the leadership team at Volcafe is firmly committed to ED&I, and both the company and the senior leadership are determined to create a workplace where all employees feel safe expressing themselves fully.

Several programmes, like the mentoring programme for female employees and the Volcafe Trainee Programme, pave the way to a truly equitable workplace. While we acknowledge our progress, we know much work remains to be done.

Volcafe hosted a panel discussion on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, during which internal and external speakers from the LGBTQ+ and underrepresented communities shared their own experience and challenges – both professionally and personally.

"Respect each other, be respectful of the differences. It goes beyond tolerance; it is about respect, said Álvaro Enrique Ayala Melendez, Minister Plenipotentiary, Permanent Mission of Colombia to the United Nations, summarising the conversation.

We do not choose to be black, to be gay... We are just like this. My big dream is that we don’t have to ask for respect – it’s just normal, says Nathalia Ferreira, Export Assistant in Logistics with Volcafe Brazil.

"Why would anyone choose a harder life? It is not a choice, it is who you are, said Gaurav Gupta, Senior Vice President, Sustainability at dentsu Americas."I think we’ve made great strides, great progress, but there is more to be done so people can not just come out, but stay out."

The challenge of acceptance and ensuring respect was a recurring topic, leading to an inspiring discussion on showing support to peers who may face intolerance or discrimination.

"Coming out is such a personal and difficult experience at any age... Show that you can be an ally. Being a visible ally is a great first step [that can] give people a space to come out when they're ready. said Gaurav Gupta, sharing his personal story of colleagues showing silent support through small decorations in their cubicles.

Álvaro Ayala added that coming out is a personal decision that we always have to respect. Show you're an open person and you care about that person because they're close to you. Their sexual orientation is not a factor that can undermine the relationship.

While members of the community can take an active role in raising awareness, notes Gaurav Gupta, allies are crucial in standing up against discrimination and disrespect.

All of us at Volcafe have a responsibility and duty towards ensuring that we uphold our policy of zero tolerance towards harassment, bullying, and discrimination.

We have to take these discussions from a human rights perspective. We all have to stand up against violence and discrimination – there is no culture to justify any type of violence or discrimination. We all have to stand up for human rights.

Farah Ghazal, Global Human Resources Director, added: We want to ensure that every employee at Volcafe feels seen, heard, valued, respected, and empowered to bring their authentic selves to work, regardless of how they identify. We aspire to create an inclusive culture where celebration and recognition of every individual occur naturally, without the need for dedicated events. However, until we reach that stage, hosting a pride event and supporting the LGBTQ+ community remains in alignment with our company's core values of respecting diversity, fostering inclusion, and embracing social responsibility."

Through the panel discussion event and the creation of an EDI committee, Volcafe reiterates towards its employees, customers and partners its commitment to making the coffee business better, together and for all. The EDI committee serves as a representative body and brings together employees from diverse backgrounds to contribute their perspectives and expertise.

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