ATHENS — Praising Greece and conveying a message from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Τrudeau, the Canadian Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rob Oliphant, stressed the importance of the international online conference "Human Rights in the Workplace" in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) released on Wednesday.
The conference – in which he will also participate – will be held on June 25 and is an initiative of the Greek government to support diversity, aiming to launch a public debate on this issue and highlight the role of businesses in changing social perceptions and behaviors.
"Progress in the field of human rights, as well as the integration and recognition of the importance of diversity," he said in an exclusive statement to ANA, "requires both government action through legislation and a lasting commitment from all members of civil society. It is very important that these policies and actions are informed by those who have experienced and come from different backgrounds."
Pointing to the role of governments, Οliphant said that governments can establish regulatory systems, enact legislation with implications for human rights violations and become role models as fair employers, even though – as he pointed out – they have a limited impact on social attitudes and behavior, as well as on the systemic reforms required for the full participation of minority groups in the social, political, economic and cultural life of a country.
In his view, he said, eradicating anti-social attitudes will require courage and continued commitment from all social classes adding that it will demand from all of us to condemn racism and to fight prejudice against sexual minorities and unconscious prejudice in the structures of society, but also in our own lives.
In this context, he stated that "civil society, especially the business community, plays an important role in ensuring social change." He added: "When businesses and industry embrace equality in the workplace, ensuring that gender, sexual orientation, age, race or nationality are no longer barriers to employment or progress, not only will they promote social change, but they will be more successful and profitable. Workers will have improved mental health and well-being, and will be free to pursue their creative abilities, bridging social gaps and opening up new markets."