By Marco Sesana, Country Manager & CEO Generali Italia and Global Business Lines
Corporate welfare generates social impact: this is what emerged from the sixth edition of Welfare Index PMI, the Generali Italia initiative that analyses the state of corporate welfare in Italian small and medium-sized enterprises. The 2016 edition highlighted a new awareness of businesses and their social role in the context in which they operate. Companies have broadened their vision by acting as a social actor, as well as an economic and market entity, for their local initiatives and proximity to workers and families, creating a new community welfare. Corporate welfare has therefore expanded, creating social value also outside companies.
The 2021 Report also points to the greater number of initiatives undertaken by SMEs, which support the priorities of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan on the country’s main priorities: health, women, younger generations, families, and communities. Corporate welfare is a powerful tool for social enhancement and that is why, this year, we have set ourselves the goal of measuring its impact, as an element that is part of the broader issue of sustainability.
In six years, the project has seen more than 25,000 companies from all productive sectors and of all sizes participate in the research and awarded 105 “Welfare Champions”; it involved the most important trade associations and experts from industry and academia, and could rely on continuous support from the Presidency of the Council of Ministers: this highlights ongoing progress and increased awareness of the social and economic value of corporate welfare in our country.
Personally, I believe that Welfare Index PMI is an excellent example of what it takes today to be truly protagonists of a new kind of growth: long-term vision, a focus on execution, and collective action. On this path, inaugurated six years ago, we must continue to walk, all together: businesses, associations, institutions.
In 2021, Welfare Index PMI participated in the first edition of SME EnterPRIZE, the Generali initiative that rewards and enhances the best examples of sustainable business developed by European small and medium-sized enterprises. Joining was a natural choice for us, because we believe that through a sustainable business, we can create economic, social, and environmental value. We have the ambition to be a Lifetime Partner at all important moments in our stakeholders’ lives, and for us sustainability means doing well in business, with a positive impact on the real economy and communities.
An example of this culture of sustainability is represented by Natura Iblea-Paniere Bio, one of the 108 SMEs awarded as a “Welfare Champion” in 2021 by Welfare Index PMI and recognised as a “Sustainability Hero” for Italy in the SME EnterPRIZE Welfare category. Based in Sicily, Natura Iblea-Paniere Bio is one of the major European organic vegetable producers; with around half of its team composed of non-EU workers, it is constantly looking for the right balance between economic development and employee well-being. The company proved even more so during the pandemic: it continued to work despite logistics and manpower problems, found solutions to reduce the risk of contagion among employees – such as the creation of two smaller teams to limit contacts, created a vaccine booking office for employees and their families, hired many women who were unemployed in other sectors, due to Covid-19, and offers scholarships to the children of its employees.