MigrAID seminar: “Educating Social Partners towards Ethnic Diversity in SMEs”

by Katia Sabathianaki

The seminar was held on May 6th by IME-GSEVEE [Small Enterprises’ Institute of the Hellenic Confederation of Professional Craftsmen and Merchants], Athens, Greece.

The MigrAID project is co-funded by the ERASMUS+ Programme of the European Union, in collaboration with the following organizations:

˗ Cyprus Labour Institute of the Pancyprian Federation of Labour (INEK-PEO)

˗ Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism (KISA), Cyprus

˗ Institute of Labour of the General Confederation of Greek Workers (INE/GSEE), Greece

˗ Università degli Studi di Milano (UMIL), Italy

˗ Enaip Veneto Impresa Sociale (ENAIP Veneto I.S.), Italy

˗ Iriv Conseil, France

˗ Videnscenter for Integration (VIFIN), Denmark

Trainer and Project Manager of the Greek partner of the project:

Ioanna Profiri, Scientific Personnel at IME GSEVEE.

Dear fellow Translators, Interpreters, Cultural Mediators, friends of the language industry, owners of companies, enterprises and sole-proprietorship schemes,

this is an overview of the MigrAID seminar I was invited to attend and which focused on a rather poorly-lit aspect of the ever-changing manpower demography of Greece.

Given the current migration/ refugee crisis, Greek employers, be it big-scale companies or SMEs, will sooner or later find themselves on, what I like to call, a “regulatory crossroads” when it comes to hiring migrants and/or asylum seekers who are assigned special permits from the Greek authorities.

This particular seminar goes one step further and deals with the future of Greek Small Medium Enterprises, the possible hiring of such employees and all the legal, ethnic diversity, multi-cultural issues arising thereof.

In layman’s terms…

What happens when asylum seekers and legitimate migrants start seeking for a job and claiming their part in the domestic labor market? Are Greek SMEs well-prepared for this transmutation of the labor market?

Have we done enough to affiliate ourselves with the possibility of hiring and/or working together with a refugee or a person from another country and another religion?

Do we know enough about the cultural diversity and the discrimination EU laws recently embedded in Greek legislation?

Are we willing to change our past views, take on seminars, and educate ourselves with the purpose of helping Greek businesses to adapt faster in the new era?

Hiring immigrants: a disgrace or an investment for future high-yields?

What is the ideal HR balance between Greek citizens/ nationals and migrants in the workplace?

Will Greek businesses turn into a hub of refugees? Is this threatening our national identity beyond recognition?

By integrating migrants in Greek SMEs, do we abandon the Greek unemployed persons in their fate?

Shouldn’t we rather prioritize Greek job seekers and deal later with the others?”

Truth be told, the lines are quite blurry and I don’t think anyone has a straightforward answer or solution, in that matter [at least I do not claim to have one].

However, this EU program attempts to pave the way and offer a tool-kit [e.g. conflict resolution simulator] for Greek enterprises to answer these questions for themselves and in their own time.

In this context, a very well-sketched guideline was handed out to all the participants, enclosing glossaries, charts and diagrams, questionnaires and dispute resolution scenarios.

Here is the introductory text of the Intellectual Output of this EU initiative:

The Erasmus+ project, “Educating Social Partners towards Ethnic Diversity in SMEs” (MigrAID) addresses ethnic diversity in the workplace of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in order to facilitate the smooth integration of migrant workers. Ethnic diversity, inclusion, workplace diversity, inequality, discrimination and conflict resolution are themes highlighting all activities of the project.

MigrAID ultimate aim is to strengthen the skills and competencies of social partners and migrants to understand, handle and deal better with the above themes. The main project’s deliverables are: two interconnected research studies on Ethnic Diversity in SMEs, two seminars for social partners and immigrants, a five-day training activity for social partners, the development of a training e-platform and the creation of a conflict resolution simulator.

More specifically, the main objective of this Output, the “Ethnic Diversity Guide for SMEs”, is to help social partners to better identify the most appropriate principles, tools, and procedures for enabling SMEs to promote ethnic diversity in the workplace. This Guide has been constructed based on the previous work, knowledge, and expertise of the MigrAID team work.

Ethnic Diversity Guide for SMEs is addressed to Social Partners (employers’ associations and trade unions), SMEs, and Employees in SMEs in order to:

Improve the understanding of social partners on ethnic diversity.

Improve their skills on managing conflicts at the workplace.

Promote migrants’ integration.

Provide existing best practices on ethnic diversity in SMEs and managing conflicts.

Interested individuals can access the Project’s web-site for more detailed information at: www.migraid.eu

Why did this seminar leave a good taste?

Mrs Profiri, being a deep connoisseur of the EU diversity, gender and ethnicity principles, as well as a highly-skilled instructor, managed to effectively communicate the baselines of what EU currently refers to as “ethnicity diversity management” in the new era dawning for the Greek labor relations and society in general.

Regardless of one’s political, religious and cultural affiliations, this seminar objectively focused on the challenges, myths and truths about the next day, and how Greek SMEs can be prepared and make decisions regarding their growth, sustainability and social balance.

So, whether you are a language mediator (translator, interpreter, etc.) or a potential employer (owner of a translation agency, a company, or an NGO), or simply a concerned fellow human, feel free to visit the MigrAID website [www.migraid.eu] or download the Intellectual Output (courtesy of IME GSEVEE, available in PDF format here).

About the author:

Katia Sabathianaki

Katia_by_K2Katia Sabathianaki graduated in 2004 from the Department of Foreign Languages, Translation and Interpreting of the Ionian University. She completed an internship at the Greek Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, for three months and then successfully complete her MA studies in European Studies & Translation of the Heriot Watt University. Since 2007, she lives and works in Athens as a freelance translator specializing in the areas of energy, economy, EU documents, law, medicine, as well as in the translation of official documents. Since 2007, she’s also been learning Russian. In 2008 she became a member of PEEMPIP and supports since then every initiative for the protection of the translation field’s rights, but also of any creative idea bringing those participating in the translation process together.

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