Barilla: My Favorite Pasta (so far)
I recently had the honor of presenting a transgender training program to the worldwide HR staff of the Barilla Pasta Company as a contractor to Total Engagement Consulting.
In 2013, Guido Barilla said, "I would never make a spot with a homosexual family. Not out of a lack of respect but because I do not see it like they do. [My idea of] family is a classic family where the woman has a fundamental role." He subsequently apologized and pledged to meet with groups "that best represent the evolution of the family, including those who have been offended by my words." He also posted a video apology on the corporate website. Unlike some apologies, this was not just a dismissive way to get an issue quickly into the past. Rather, it was the beginning of a new, more diverse future.
I can attest that now, five years later, Barilla is a company transformed by diversity and is particularly embracing of its LGBTQ employees. Rest assured, there is no way this could happen overnight. But, this phenomenal turnaround could only have occurred with aggressive leadership and a persistent effort.
Barilla now has a score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate
Equality Index (CEI). For those of you have not looked at the requirements, they are exhaustive in support of LGBTQ people, especially in the area of benefits.
They have revamped their EEO statement to be more obviously inclusive and attractive to prospective employees.
They instituted ERG’s (Employee Resource Groups). Of particular note is the LGBTQ ERG, VOCE which is Italian for “voice”. They are quite active with clear diversity and inclusion objectives.
An EAP that supports the special needs of a diverse workforce.
They’ve instituted policies and procedures for HR and transgender employees in support of coming out and transitioning on the job.
They attend and financially support HRC, The Tyler Clementi Foundation, and local LGBT organizations among others on a growing list.
The case of Barilla Pasta demonstrates the evolution of a CEO and what a company can do when it makes a decision to fully embrace its LGBTQ employees. At Barilla "Everything is Pasta-bowl"!