Building a Diverse Future in the Workplace with Léa James | Mind The Gap

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Equity and Inclusion: Building a Diverse Future in the Workplace An Exclusive Interview with Léa James, Head of Inclusion & People Innovation, Generali Italy

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, the pursuit of diversity and inclusion has become a cornerstone of corporate success. Generali Italy stands out as a trailblazer in this regard, recently becoming the first insurance company in Italy to receive the “Certificazione Parità di Genere”. 

In this exclusive interview, we speak with Léa James, Head of Inclusion & People Innovation at Generali Italy, to delve into the strategies and initiatives that have propelled the company to these impressive achievements. Léa shares her insights on the importance of equity and inclusion in attracting and retaining diverse talent, the evolving needs of the modern workforce, and what it means to be a responsible employer in today’s world. 

Join us as we explore the key elements that make Generali Italia a leader in fostering a supportive and dynamic work environment.

"Equity is the key to genuine inclusion. Only when there is both equity and inclusion can a company attract and retain people from diverse backgrounds."

Generali Italy has been the first Insurance company in Italy to obtain the “Certificazione Parità di Genere” a national certification confirming the company’s commitment to gender equality. But it’s not just that: in 2023 Forbes conducted research interviewing over 70.000 women in 73 countries to underline the World’s Top Companies for Women. Generali Group ranked 22nd in the world and 1st in Italy. What does it take to reach these results and what would you recommend to a Company to attract more female and diversified talents?

This achievement is the result of years of dedicated effort to build a more inclusive company. Specifically, we have focused on promoting behaviors that respect and value each individual, while ensuring fairness, meritocracy, and transparency in opportunities, experiences, and processes for everyone.

I am convinced that equity is the key to genuine inclusion. Only when there is both equity and inclusion can a company attract and retain people from diverse backgrounds.

Obtaining the Gender Equity Certification provided Generali Italia with the opportunity to assess all our processes against external benchmarks. We were pleased to see that our long-term commitment has positioned us as pioneers in Italy. For example, our innovative flexible work model is enabling our employees to balance their personal and working life and ensuring a future of work that is accessible to everyone, especially women.

The future of work is very different from what we are used to. Needs and expectations from talents are changing and intercepting them is key to attracting the best talent on the market. In your opinion, what are the new needs for women, and how can companies satisfy them?

The future of work is evolving rapidly, and with it, the needs and expectations of talent. In my opinion, several key areas need to be considered:

Flexibility: People, especially women, often juggle multiple roles, including caregiving responsibilities. To attract and retain talent, companies need to offer flexible working arrangements, smart working options, and dedicated support for different life stages (parenthood, caregiving, retirement, etc.).

Equity: Equal access to career advancement and equal pay are key factors in retaining women and talent. It’s important to show a long-term commitment and to ensure fair processes.

Purpose: Working for a company that shares your values and makes you feel in the right place is a strong factor for attraction and retention. Creating a safe work environment, offering training and growth opportunities, celebrating successes, and promoting physical and mental well-being are examples of initiatives that sustain people’s engagement and motivation.

By addressing these needs, companies can create an environment where people, especially women, feel supported, valued, and empowered to succeed.

If interviewers make assumptions based on stereotypes or biases, they risk not evaluating the candidates based on their skills and fit for the role. 

The interview process provides a platform for candidates to disclose any specific needs or accommodations related to their LGBTQ+ identity, their families or gender transition, etc. If these needs are not recognized or met, the candidates don’t consider the organization a good employer. 

Post-interview feedback sessions allow hiring teams to reflect on their practices and identify opportunities for improvement in their DEI efforts.

Last but not least, what does it mean to be a “Responsible Employer”?

For Generali being a responsible employer for a responsible future means promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in our work environment, upskilling our people, nurturing talent in all its forms, and implementing more flexible and sustainable ways of working while measuring, reducing, and reporting the carbon footprint resulting from our own direct operations.

We have for example taken the commitment to reduce our Equal Pay Gap, to increase the number of women in strategic positions, and to upskill our employees with digital knowledge so that they can thrive and express their potential.

Moreover, to be in line with the Responsible Investor and Insurer roles, we have been steadily working for several years to reduce (-35% by 2025) the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from our own direct operations (e.g: company sites and  business travels)

Meet Léa James

Graduated in Management from Bordeaux Ecole de Management Business School, she studied in France and Estonia. With a solid international experience in human resources, she has worked for several multinationals in France, Germany, and Italy. She has had the opportunity to work in various HR fields such as talent management, workforce planning, and development. She joined the Generali Group in 2018, serving as HR Business Partner. In 2023, she moved to Country Italy as the Head of the Inclusion & People Innovation team, managing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion topics for Generali's Italian companies.

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This article is part of "Mind The Gap" a Newsletter we have launched in 2024, dedicated to DEIB & those who actively work towards making the workplace a more inclusive space.


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