JCU Hosts Special Class on Inclusion and Diversity in the Workplace and Daily Life
On October 14, JCU hosted the special class “Let’s Talk About Love: Inclusion and Diversity in the Workplace and Daily Life,” in the context of Professor Antonella Salvatore’s “Professional Skills for Career Development” course. The guest speakers were: Riccardo Aielli, Gabriele Corsaro, and Leonardo Peluso from Johnson & Johnson (J&J); Sofia Peri, JCU Alumna; and Temashengu Tshabalala, President of the JCU Queer Alliance.
Riccardo Aielli, TA Partner – Early Talent Recruiter for Italy and France, said that at J&J, employees plan many different events to raise awareness and discuss inclusion in the workplace. Gabriele Corsaro, Open & Out Chapter Leader and Janssen Cologno Monzese Site Leader, explained that Open & Out is a group of gay, lesbian, and transgender employees, that aims to create a unified workplace, and address diversity and inclusion. Open & Out was created in January 2020 by Leonardo Peluso, Medical Department Site Leader, and it is present worldwide, with each country having different chapter leaders.
Corsaro said that in 2021 Open & Out organized six virtual global events, which were attended by more than 10 thousand people, and its members are now more than four thousand. The vision of Open & Out to enable every employee to value their unique experience and background in order to create a better world. By creating awareness and an inclusive environment, everyone has the chance to express their potential.
“My mission when I launched Open & Out was linked to a concept: hope. I hoped that, through Open & Out, through mentoring, information, and awareness, I could change people’s minds and hearts. I hoped that, through our work, I could avoid other people to go through the same bad experiences that I had,” said Peluso.
When he launched Open & Out, Peluso went around Italy to talk to his J&J colleagues about his idea. He had an emotional approach and shared his story. When he was a teenager, he was a victim of bullying and homophobia, and he was beaten because of his sexual orientation. At first he isolated himself and did not leave his house. Then, he decided to react and to change this situation, by raising awareness and promoting inclusion among his family and friends. Years later, he tried to bring this change to his workplace, launching Open & Out.
Sofia Peri, JCU alumna, decided to share her story as well. Sofia said that she used to be a male when she attended JCU. She went through a difficult process to become the person she is today, and she was able to tell her story in the movie “Io sono Sofia.” At the beginning, she was reluctant to share her personal experience, but then she realized that other people could relate to it. After “Io sono Sofia” was screened, many people contacted her to tell her that her story made them understand what they wanted in their lives.
The speakers reiterated that there is still a lot to do to increase awareness and inclusion in Italy, but little steps forward are being taken. Temashengu Tshabalala explained that since the Queer Alliance was founded in 2013, things have changed at JCU. In addition to the founding of the club, the use of different pronouns, depending on people’s gender identities, has become very common, queer studies courses are being offered, and the queer community is getting bigger. The aim of the club is to connect the JCU queer community with the larger queer community, and to build a group that includes everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or nationality.