Following her recent nomination for the Contribution for World Peace and Human Rights Award within JCI Malta’s Ten Outstanding Young People (TOYP) Awards to be announced this December, Viviana Premazzi, Founder of Global Mindset Development, chats exclusively with MaltaCEOs.mt about her work in the fields of Cultural Diversity and Inclusion and her most recent project: launching a Women Leadership Development Programme across cultures and generations.

For the past 12 years, Viviana has worked as a consultant and trainer on diversity and inclusion, anti-racism, anti-discrimination, migration and integration for Fortune 500, local and international companies, government agencies, business associations and international NGOs in Europe, North America, Africa and the Middle East.

With a PhD in the sociology of migration and a Masters in Intercultural and Interreligious Conflicts Management, Viviana also got certified Accredited Lecturer in Intercultural Management by Hofstede Insights in 2019. “Studying and learning has always been important to me in order to be better equipped to help and support organisations and individuals with anti-discrimination, integration, diversity and inclusion policies,” Viviana explains.

After years of travelling around the world, Viviana chose Malta as he base in 2018, to found Global Mindset Development GMD Malta (www.gmdmalta.com), in order to help companies, organisations and individual to enjoy the cultural diversity around them and work effectively across cultures. She also lectures on cultural intelligence and awareness at the University of Malta and for the NATO CIMIC courses, and is also a consultant for the United Nations and the World Bank on topics related to intercultural communication, diversity and inclusion, migration, cooperation and development and financial education.

Speaking of her role in Global Mindset Development GMD Malta, Viviana says, “I help people and organisations to promote diversity and inclusion all over the world. Unfortunately, people are afraid of cultural diversity and are resistant to change. My aim is to equip them with intercultural skills so that they can enjoy the beautiful worlds around them and feel at home wherever they are in the world. I also work in supporting companies and organisations to promote anti-discrimination, anti-racism, integration, diversity, equity and inclusion projects and policies.”

Interestingly, Viviana reveals, she founded GMD after an emergency surgery where she was discovered to have endometriosis. “Since then, I have also become a strong advocate for endometriosis awareness. After the doctors saved me, GMD was my way to give back to the community for everything I have received in life.”

As for choosing the island as her base, she says, “Malta was the right place for me to start because it is incredibly diverse, and organisations are recognising the importance of promoting and managing diversity so to transform it in a real competitive advantage.”

She is now hard at work on launching a Women Leadership Development Programme, which stemmed from an event she was involved in last year. “In 2020, together with another Italian intercultural trainer, Maura Di Mauro, I organised an event that was hosted in the framework of a programme of the municipality of Milan, specifically dedicated to women, I talenti delle donne,” she explains.

The title of the event was ‘Women leaders across cultures and generations’, and, coming from the intercultural field, the work involved with the women would lead them to recognise a hidden potential in migrant women, as well in women that have had international experiences.

“After the event, more women reached out to us and we felt the need for setting up something more structured. This is why we decided to create a Women Leadership Development Programme across cultures and generations,” Viviana reveals, explaining that its focus is to start from the challenges the women shared in order to set up a training programme that could work to provide them with the skills needed to enhance their leadership development and an international network.

“Through coaching and mentoring, women can share issues they are facing, and the programme can act as a support for them in their managerial career or entrepreneurial journey,” she adds.

The first edition of the programme took place online earlier this year, but the team is now organising a second one in person, which will be held in Malta in 2022.

Delving into her experience in the area, I ask Viviana what she feels the main reasons are behind there not being as many women in leadership positions as men. A major factor at play, she says, is culture.

“Culture plays a very important role in women representation in leadership position. This is why it is there that we should start, understanding conscious and unconscious biases, prejudices and stereotypes that still influence the perception of women’s place in society,” she maintains, adding that following that, we should support women to believe in themselves and in what they can achieve, but also provide them with legislative and social tools so that they do not have to make a choice between maternity or a career, for example.

“Many women turn to entrepreneurship not because they like it but because they don’t have choice. COVID also made this extremely evident. While we should support women entrepreneurs, we should also work to set up the conditions so that women can have the same opportunities that men have in career progression and reaching leadership and managerial positions,” Viviana asserts.

Lastly, she notes that another of the programme’s aims is knowledge. “We can learn a lot from other international experiences and realise that we are not alone, but can be inspired by other women that went through the same challenges, have developed skills and self-esteem and reached board positions, as well as by men that were able to change perceptions by working on their own and their colleagues’ prejudices and stereotypes, to promote equal opportunities and help women to reach leadership positions.”

“If we do not invest in these issues, we may not grasp all the opportunities that the world is reserving for us. Empowering women is not only for women. It’s a business Issue, not just a women’s issue,” she concludes.

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