The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has always maintained a policy of zero tolerance for discrimination. As usual, IITA joined the rest of the world to celebrate Zero Discrimination Day on 1 March by organizing a virtual seminar themed “End Inequality,”.
The purpose was to create awareness of the concept of discrimination and how to guard against it in the workplace and society at large.
On behalf of the management team, Hilde Koper, Deputy Director-General, Corporate Services, gave the opening address, noting that the need for awareness was due to the growing rate of inequality.
She stated that IITA has and is still standing up for zero discrimination against women and the staff have been supportive in working against inequality. ‘Let us maintain an environment that women would love to work in. Think of what an equal world would look like and let us all work towards it,” she said.
Helen Adeniji, IITA Organizational Development Manager, gave an overview on the concept of harassment and discrimination and their various forms.
Wale Oladokun, IITA Employee Services Manager, emphasized how to get help on harassment and discrimination-related issues. He stressed the need to speak up and politely state one’s case when harassed or discriminated against, especially since IITA has a policy against harassment and discrimination.
While highlighting staff’s roles and responsibilities in maintaining zero discrimination, Lade Oke, Human Resources Manager, stated that everyone is involved because maintaining zero discrimination is beyond one unit or even the management alone.
Oke emphasized the need for all staff to be aware of IITA policy to not behave in ways that promote harassment and discrimination in the workplace. “Let everyone contribute to promoting a good work environment by maintaining respectful relationships with all staff, avoiding gender jokes, and seeking to promote dignity,” she said.
In conclusion, Oladokun highlighted some key take-away points, reiterating the need to speak up when necessary as nobody is infallible and IITA has zero-tolerance for harassment and discrimination regardless of status.
To crown the event, a man—Olusegun Ajao, HR Technician; and woman—Ayooluwami Omoloye, HR Intern; were delegated as IITA ambassadors for Zero Discrimination and Harassment, after which staff embarked on a “walk for a purpose.”