Barilla Pasta Announces New Company 'Diversity and Inclusion' Initiative

By Jase Peeples

Originally published on Advocate.com November 04 2013 3:23 PM ET

Italian pasta maker Barilla found itself surrounded by a storm of controversy after its chairman, Guido Barilla, said LGBT people could “go eat another brand” and had “no respect for adoption by gay families” on an Italian radio show in September. However, the company says it is now taking steps to improve its position on inclusion, diversity, and social responsibility, according to a press release.

“Diversity, inclusion and equality have long been grounded in Barilla’s culture, values and code of conduct. They are reflected in our policies and the benefits we provide to all employees, regardless of age, disability, gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation,” CEO Claudio Colzani said in the release. “At the same time, we are committed to promoting diversity further because we firmly believe that it’s the right thing to do.”

As a part of the Barilla’s renewed dedication to corporate diversity, the company has established a diversity and inclusion board that will be made up of “external experts and advocates who will help Barilla establish concrete goals and strategies for improving diversity and equality in the company’s workforce and culture with regard to sexual orientation, gender balance, disability rights and multicultural and intergenerational issues.” LGBT activist David Mixner is among those who have accepted positions on the board.

“I am encouraged by Barilla’s commitment to seek outside guidance and advice on these crucial issues and pleased to be a part of it,” Mixner said in the press release. “I am also impressed with the willingness of the Chairman and company to listen and learn from LGBT community leaders and work towards improving diversity, inclusion and equality.”

Additionally, Barilla has appointed the company’s first chief diversity officer, Talita Erickson, and will participate in the Corporate Equality Index, which was created by the Human Rights Campaign to rate companies on their policies and practices that pertain to LGBT employees.  

Said Barilla spokesmand Luca Virginio: “Our goal is to do better by becoming a global corporate citizen and leader in diversity and inclusion, internally and externally.”