myGwork spoke to Jaromír Staroba from ABInBev to discuss the importance of Pride and their approach to diversity and inclusion, psychological safety, and inclusive language.
Can you tell us more about yourself and your career?
My name is Jaromir Staroba, I work for ABInBev, the world’s leading brewer and one of the largest CPG companies worldwide. I am responsible for our Business Services Center and Digital Hub in Prague, Czech Republic.
Why is diversity and inclusion important to you and the Prague center?
D&I plays a key role at AB InBev. Our purpose is to bring people together for a better world. To achieve this, our company and our Prague center must be an inclusive and diverse workplace where everyone feels they belong whatever our personal characteristics or social identities.
In our Prague center, in particular, we are very diverse in terms of nationalities and ethnicities. We also have a higher proportion of team members belonging to the LGBTQ+ community, compared to other AB InBev Europe locations, as identified in our recent D&I survey, which was conducted on a voluntary and confidential basis and has given us important insights into how we can become even more inclusive and diverse as an organization.
What is your approach to diversity and inclusion?
I started to be interested in this topic about 3 years ago when I was HR director in our company, and we were thinking about how to make our workplace more inclusive.
At that time, we came up with an approach which comes actually from the passion of our people for certain topics – the concept of Diversity and Inclusion ambassadors, which drive education and concrete initiatives in areas like integration of working mothers back to the company, integration of expat colleagues or allyship to LGBTQ+ community.
You have LGBTQ+ Ambassadors as part of the Prague center, can you tell us more about them and their role in creating workplace equality?
Sure, our D&I ambassadors are organized in 4 workstreams: People and Workplace (looking inside our teams), Communities (looking at communities we operate in), Marketplace (looking at diversity in our consumers) and Value Chain (looking at supplier diversity and support of local suppliers).
LGBTQ+ actually runs across streams, so we created a cross-stream ambassador workgroup which first of all promotes myGwork, WorkPride, looks at how we can be part of Pride activities and most importantly drives education with all our employees on LGBTQ+ related topics.
ABInBev Prague Centrer
You take a bottom-up approach that centers on dedicated individuals across the organization, if a workplace doesn’t have this, what can be done to encourage it?
We believe it’s the right approach and all the organization needs to do is prepare a framework and senior leaders’ sponsorship. You would be surprised at how many people actually volunteered to be part of the D&I groups. People are happy to do what they are passionate about; belief will serve the right purpose and have an impact.
What is psychological safety and why do you think it is important?
For us, psychological safety is the concept that you won't be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.
When you invest in psychological safety as a company, it will increase the confidence of your employees, resulting in higher creativity, trust, and productivity.
How have you been able to foster a workplace environment with psychological safety?
We as a company, and as Prague center, organized a series of training on these topics with the support of Suesal Arieli, a well-known expert in driving this agenda with large organizations. Many of our colleagues joined and especially for leaders, it was an eye-opening experience on how they can create more psychological safety within their teams.
How does this link in with the values of AB InBev?
At AB InBev, one of our principles states that we are measured by the Quality and Diversity of our teams’.
This is why I want to make sure we create in our Prague center, and within AB InBev in general, an inclusive and safe environment, which will attract diverse talent who are able to bring their true selves to work each day. Therefore, they will be more creative, passionate about what they do and hence achieve better results in their work and private life.
You are also very passionate about inclusive language – can you tell us why this is important to you and how you’re using this to improve your environment?
The key to a healthy workplace is treating everyone with respect. You, or a colleague, can feel uncomfortable or excluded if someone assumes your gender identity or if someone assumes certain groups are in charge over others. Even small improvements like your language can lead to better communication, making our workplace a safer and more welcoming space for everybody. I am convinced that this is an important factor to be successful as an organization.
Giving you an example from my own vocabulary, I am forcing myself to avoid words like ‘Guys’. Instead, I try to use a neutral term, such as ‘Team’ when talking to bigger groups of colleagues.
It’s currently Pride month – why is it important to be discussing psychological safety and inclusive language during Pride?
One of the drivers behind Pride is that everybody should feel comfortable and safe being themselves wherever they are. Everyone deserves to have equal human rights, no matter what your background is. Using inclusive language can create a more open environment on the work floor, with everyone being authentic to themselves.
How do you measure success when it comes to diversity and inclusion, and what are your goals for the future?
We run a voluntary and confidential Diversity and Inclusion survey every year as well as an engagement survey, which has a D&I element in it. Despite the scores already being high, we are never satisfied with our results and want to improve further.
As an ally to the LGBTQ+ community and a leader, what do you see as your role in helping to create a world where everyone is free to be themselves regardless of sexuality or gender identity?
Allyship for me is about three pieces of work:
1. Educate our colleagues about the perspectives of underrepresented groups like the LGBTQ+ community, talk openly about their challenges and drive initiatives where they can learn more and become an ally to support them.
2. Active participation in programs – D&I ambassadors as an example, making sure we as an organization are part of WorkPride and people join us on this journey. D&I through this is driven by passionate people.
3. Be ready to act if you see or hear something wrong – act when you hear improper locker or coffee talks – always in a respectful way with the element of education.