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Stories of Change: Case studies from OPEN Spotlight Award 2019

We launched the OPEN Spotlight Award to shine the spotlight on organizations that have gone through an inspiring journey in which they worked for diversity and inclusion. Our aim is to cultivate an international community of business and experts promoting openness, who inspire each other by sharing stories and knowledge and lead by example to start positive changes on a large scale.

For the first time in 2019 we had 5 award categories and received 25+ case studies from organizations across various industries in the CEE region. All shortlisted case studies were presented at OPEN Conference 2019.

Now we’ve released the OPEN Spotlight Award 2019 case studies in an ebook format. Please download the ebook to learn more about the inspiring efforts these organizations made to create an open workplace culture and tackle complex diversity and inclusion related issues.

To download the Ebook, please fill up the following form. If you or your organization have a unique story, share it with us using this form.

What can employers do? COVID-19 Impact Report on Women, LGBTQ+, Roma & Disabled People

We know that the Coronavirus pandemic is a challenging situation for everyone. What we may not know is the impact of the pandemic on different minority groups, and how it affects them at their workplace and beyond, and what employers can do to support them.  

WeAreOpen has partnered with Amnesty Magyarország, Bagázs Egyesület, Háttér Társaság and Salva Vita Alapítvány to create “What can employers do? COVID-19 Impact Report on Women, LGBTQ+, Roma & Disabled People”. 

The Report includes useful information, data and resources about the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on minorities and concrete tips for employers how to handle it. Amnesty International Hungary provided information on gender equality and the role of women in domestic and care work. Bagázs Association shared their report on the negative effects on Roma communities in Hungary such as discrimination and digital poverty. Háttér Society shared their expertise about LGBTQ+ inclusion and how the pandemic could lead to an increase in exclusionary atmosphere. Salva Vita Foundation provided insights on the challenges disabled people face because of social distancing and remote work. 

You can see the report below, and you can download a copy by sharing your email. This Report is just the first step: we encourage all organizations, companies and experts to join the project and contribute their own ideas, stories, best practices etc. and inspire others. Currently, the Report is available only in Hungarian, but we will be adding an English version soon. 

By highlighting some important phenomena and insights, we hope we can help companies and organizations ease the negative effects of the pandemic on diverse employees and communities.

amnesty logo

To download the report, please fill up the following form. If you want to contribute to this project through your own story, case study, best practices or in any other manner, let us know through the form and we’ll get in touch!

Two Steps: Gender Research

Does everyone agree?

13/12/2018, Budapest – There are some things that everyone agrees on: In Hungary, equal proportions of female and male employees (63%) believe that women and men have to work together to ensure that women has equal opportunities on the workplace. Already, many people find that the situation has improved over the last two years, with respondents having eight years of schooling noting the greatest improvement. Over the next two years, employers will be faced with this challenge: employees expect continuous improvement. WeAreOpen’s new Two Steps programme seeks to help organizations create an open corporate culture.

Over the last four years, there has been a 20% increase in the proportion of respondents who believe that changes in the Hungarian workplace to ensure equal opportunities for women and men are urgently needed. There is no significant difference in the proportions of men and women expressing this opinion. Where there is a difference however is in the perception of the current situation: women more frequently see that someone in their family has been discriminated against on the basis of gender. Thus, a quarter of women, but scarcely one-tenth of men, have heard of such cases from a family member.

In Gemius’ and WeAreOpen’s representative study – conducted throughout Hungary among employees over the age of 18 and having internet access – sought to determine what progress women are seeing as well as to learn about the experiences of men. Based on the results of this study, WeAreOpen will be launching the Two Steps programme, which will include customised questionnaires and presentations for companies. These are intended for companies, women and men who wanted to work together to implement positive change.

Where do we stand now?

Interest in this topic is increasing, both at the global level and in Hungary. Indeed, among Hungarian employees over the last two years, 60% of respondents experienced some change at their workplace directed at ensuring equal opportunities for men and women. “These changes affect everyone. The fact that more and more efforts are being made to ensure that women have equal opportunities doesn’t only have a positive impact on women’s lives. We have to realize what issues are being raised for whom as part of this process, and this means that we need dialogue and data as well. This is what we want to provide space for with our Two Steps program”, explains Melinda Miklós, managing director of WeAreOpen.

What women and men agree on

  • Over 60% of both women and men agree that it is also beneficial to men if women have access to equal opportunities at work.
  • Four out of five respondents believe that no one should be given preferential treatment based solely on their gender.
  • Essentially the same proportions of men and women are concerned about work-life balance.
  • Over two-thirds of respondents said that it is important to enable men to stay home to care for their young children if they wish to do so.
  • There are now only very few people who believe that the reason why there are fewer women in leadership positions is that women are not ambitious enough (16%).
  • Over the last two years, 60% of respondents experienced some change at their workplace directed at ensuring equal opportunities for men and women. The most popular change was more family-friendly opportunities (e.g. flextime). However, between 25 to 50% of employees still do not know whether or not some of these family-friendly options (e.g. extended vacation time, childcare services, etc.) are available at their workplace.
  • In companies that are working to achieve a greater gender parity, 71% of staff approve of these changes.
  • In companies where there has been increased dialogue about the need to ensure equal opportunities for women and men, these changes have been welcomed by 64% of respondents.
  • Only 9 out of 100 respondents said that they were glad to hear the opinion from others that equal opportunities for women are detrimental to men.

From a woman’s perspective

What we can see is not only that women hear about cases of discrimination more often, but also that they are much more likely than men to see this as a common occurrence.

  • Indeed, 42% of men but only 28% of women believe that women today are not discriminated against in promotions. An interesting finding is that, over the last two years, a greater proportion of women than men were given promotions, but this only meant that they were assigned more motivating tasks. Women received increases in pay much less often than men, although they requested them with the same frequency.
  • Only 34% of men but 46% of women believe that there are considerably more prejudices against female executives, and that this is the reason why there are fewer of them. The fact that the number of women in leadership positions is increasing does not bother most people, but opinions are divided: 29% of men and only 17% of women are displeased by this.
  • Among family-friendly options, remote work and childcare services at the workplace were substantially more important for women than for men.

From a man’s perspective

Men are concerned about combining their role as fathers and their jobs.

  • Among male respondents, 67% agreed that it is important to enable men to contribute to family care responsibilities, and to even spend part of their time staying at home to care for their young children if they wish to do so. However, half of them did not know whether or not their company would support this with paternity leave. More men than women expected that their company should provide them with this option.
  • More men than women worked either at companies or in jobs where their working time was not flexible.

In the first video campaign of the Two Steps program, well-known women and men spoke about the study and shared their own experiences. Follow the videos on our WeAreOpen YouTube channel. If you want to voice an opinion or share your experiences, the questionnaire developed by WeAreOpen and Gemius is still available on our website.

Data-driven companies

Making the survey and the Two Steps program especially timely, recent Hungarian Central Statistical Office data indicate that near 60,000 jobs are unfilled in the private sector alone, resulting in tremendous competition for new staff and to retain existing employees. The assessment of employee satisfaction is a key marker in this respect, and it also helps if a company creates an equitable corporate culture where employees are judged fairly, based solely on their actions and performance. Ensuring that men and women enjoy equal opportunities leads to more successful companies and happier, more committed employees.

Already, almost 20 small enterprises have measured themselves using the questionnaire developed by WeAreOpen and Gemius. WeAreOpen is making the questionnaire available free of charge to the small and medium-sized enterprise sector, which – according to the most recent Hungarian Central Statistical Office data – employs nearly 3 million people. Larger corporations are also encouraged to get involved, and may commission a more detailed questionnaire.

February 2015: Valentine’s Day – Love is for everyone

A Valentine’s Day surprise from Hungarian musicians: “I’m in love with every man”, “Klára Szabó” and “Sorry (Dancing boy)”

Today reworked love songs will be aired for the first time on several radio stations and online

Budapest, 14.02.2015 A number of Hungarian musicians have surprised their fans with songs they have reworked according to the “Love is for everyone” theme – as a result, this year on Valentine’s Day, for the first time, several radio stations will play songs rewritten for gay and lesbian couples. The Biebers, in which Peti Puskás also sings, Pa-Dö-Dő, the Kistehén band and the singer Veronika Szász each decided to rework one of their love songs, so that those women whose heart’s desire is a woman and those men who are in love with a man can find a fitting song for Valentine’s Day. The results are the songs now titled “I’m in love with every man”, “Klára Szabó” and “Sorry (dancing boy)”, as well as a reworked folk song. The songs will be aired for the first time on various radio stations, the YouTube channels of the musicians and within a few days on Spotify. With this gesture the musicians aim to encourage people to judge one another based only on their actions, without regard to their sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, ethnic background or any other characteristics.

The Biebers believes that it has a duty to stand up for openness and everyone being judged by their actions, rather than other characteristics. “Equality is our form of rebellion. I think it’s important for bands not just to tackle classic pop themes, but also to react to social issues. It’s our obligation do this,” said the members of the band, explaining why they have rewritten their popular love song “Sorry” as “Sorry (dancing boy)”. Fans will have to wait until next week for the reworked version.

Pa-Dö-Dő also believes that fame comes with responsibility and would like its message about being open to one another and the world to reach even more people through the band’s music: “Everyone wants to live freely. That’s why it’s important to be open and support all such initiatives as this one. We think it’s also the duty of those who get a little more attention. We’re popular perhaps, or at least well-known, and we hope people will listen to what we say,” said Pa-Dö-Dő, explaining why the band joined the campaign and renamed its song titled “János Szabó” as “Klára Szabó”.

The musicians selected one of their popular love songs, changed the person that the song is addressed to and rerecorded the song. That means this Valentine’s Day every couple can find a song that really suits them.

Several radio stations have decided to include the songs in their Valentine’s Day playlist.

The project is the brainchild of DDB creative agency, which joined WeAreOpen initiative, which now has more than 800 members. The agency would like to inspire people to judge others by their actions and achievements, rather than any other characteristics, through the project.

“I don’t know whether I’m open or not. There are situations when I’m not at all, but other times I am. I would say that I try to be open. But freedom is essential for me and a very important part of my life. It would be good if everyone could experience it,” said László Kollár-Klemencz, lead singer and songwriter of the Kistehén band, talking about his own experiences of openness and explaining why he rewrote the band’s song “I’m in love with every woman”  as “I’m in love with every man”.

Singer Veronika Szász explains that it is simply easier to be open to one another and the world, and not to listen to prejudices. “I’m open because I would find it hard not to be. I think it’s much simpler this way. If you aren’t open, then you constantly have to pass judgement, and virtually nobody has the experience necessary to make such judgements. So I’m open-minded, because it’s an easier way to live,” she said after recording the reworked folk song.

“We joined the WeAreOpen initiative a year ago, and since then we’ve been thinking about how to play a part in achieving the common goals of the initiative. This project is very close to our hearts, because we believe it can inspire lots of people to be open. We know from experience how much more exciting it is to work and live like this,” said Péter Tordai, creative director of the DDB advertising agency, speaking about the background to the campaign.

“We’re delighted that the WeAreOpen initiative has inspired more than 800 companies, communities and many more people through their day-to-day work and such campaigns to be open to one another and the world. We wish happy Valentine’s Day to absolutely everyone,” said Google, espell and Prezi, the founders of the WeAreOpen initiative.

The songs that have been reworked according to the theme of “Love is for everyone” can be heard on the radio stations that have joined the campaign, the website and YouTube channel of the We’re Open initiative, the YouTube channels of the musicians, and from next week on Spotify.



About the WeAreOpen initiative

The WeAreOpen  community initiative was set up by Google, espell and Prezi in summer 2013.  The members of the initiative regard it as a fundamental value that others are judged solely on the basis of their actions and achievements, without regard to their age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national or ethnic background, political convictions, religious or other beliefs, physical abilities, or other characteristics. More than 800 companies, organisations and communities have since joined the initiative, including well-known international brands, Hungarian companies, sole traders, NGOs and communities.

You can read more about We’re Open’s campaigns so far, such as its initiative aimed at gender equality at the workplace or its video campaign presenting numerous facets of openness, on the website of the initiative. Companies, organisations and communities can join the initiative at any time. At everyone can make a commitment to openness, which the founders of the initiative believe is a simple, but important gesture.

July 2014: Survey about the openness of Hungarian workplaces by Gemius Hungary

Have you ever been discriminated against at the workplace?
Study on openness at Hungarian workplaces, the groups most rejected by colleagues, and employee happiness

Budapest, 04.07.2014 — 83% of future employees, namely pupils and students, would like to work at a place where there is no negative discrimination. By contrast, more than half of Hungarian employees have already encountered negative discrimination, according to a study by Gemius [1]. Only Roma people are less accepted by colleagues than LGBTQ people. The research also revealed that being open makes business sense for companies, since employees who work at open-minded companies where others are only judged on the basis of their actions and achievements are happier and more committed. More than 700 companies, organisations and communities have joined the We’re Open initiative over the last year, which was set up for communities that regard openness as a fundamental value. The initiative will have a joint float at this year’s Budapest Pride too and invites everyone to join it.

One in two employees has encountered workplace discrimination
According to the research, which is representative of the online Hungarian community aged over 15, 52% of employees reported that they had encountered negative discrimination at the workplace, and of these one in two had personally experienced negative discrimination. The 52% figure is very high in European comparison; according to an international study [2] , the Western European average is around 35%.

A third of employers are not open-minded
While the vast majority of future employees, namely current pupils and students, said that they would prefer to work at an open workplace, according to current employees that is not true of a third of employers. 83% of pupils and students said that they would like to work at a workplace where it is regarded as a fundamental corporate value that employees and partners are judged solely on the basis of their actions and their work performance, and without regard to their age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, national or ethnic background, political convictions, religious or other beliefs, physical abilities, or other characteristics.

Roma and LGBTQ people are the groups most rejected by colleagues
The research also looked at the extent to which employees are accepting of one another at the workplace. The groups most rejected by their own colleagues are Roma and LGBTQ people (according to international research, the latter make up 5 to 8% of society) by a clear margin. Employees would least like to have members of these two groups as colleagues, subordinates or managers. More than two-thirds of employees (69%) said they would not accept an LGBTQ person as their manager. Even fewer employees (24%) would accept a Roma person as their manager. More than half of employees would not want to be the manager of a LGBTQ (56%) or Roma employee (54%). 

Being open makes business sense for employers
The research also revealed that being open makes business sense for companies and organisations. Those respondents who thought that their employer regards it as a fundamental value that others are judged solely on the basis of their actions and achievements, without regard to other characteristics were happier at their workplace and more committed.

Companies and organisations are standing up for openness with a float at Budapest Pride
As part of the We’re Open initiative set up for companies, organisations and communities that regard openness as a fundamental value, numerous companies and organisations, including Prezi, espell and Google, the organisers of the community initiative, and Gemius, which performed the research, will have a joint float at this year’s Budapest Pride too. First-time Priders, as well as companies, organisations and communities with a tradition of participating in Pride and all other supporters are invited to join the We’re Open float Last year’s crowd and festival atmosphere were a sure sign that this year’s Budapest Pride will prove even more popular. We’re Open also looks forward to welcoming many first-time Priders – people who have previously not participated in the parade. You can join the We’re Open initiative, which currently has a membership of nearly 700 companies, organisations and communities, on the website. We welcome all those companies, organisations and communities that regard it as a fundamental value that others are judged solely on the basis of their actions and achievements, without regard to other characteristics.

About the research
The research is representative of the online Hungarian community aged over 15. The sample size was 2,500 people. The questionnaire survey was performed using the CAWI pop-up method between 20 and 27 July. The research was carried out by Gemius, a member of the We’re Open community, with the support of Index and Sanoma Media Budapest, which are also members of We’re Open.




[1] The research is representative of the online Hungarian community aged over 15.
[2]Kelly Services: Discrimination emerging in new forms in the global jobs market, 2006