Welcome to the 14th installment in the ongoing Local Diversity and Inclusion Spotlight series. In these blog posts, we’ll explore how various countries around the world address diversity and inclusion in their culture and workplace.
Our newest spotlight country? Hungary, a country that celebrates its Republic Day on October 23.
Here are some things to know about diversity and inclusion in Hungary.
Hungary has established legislation protecting some rights of LGBT individuals.
The Hungarian Constitution does not have specific language to protect LGBT individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, the constitution does ban discrimination based on “any other status,” which has been interpreted to include sexual orientation.
In 2003, the Hungarian government passed the Equal Treatment Act and the Promotion of Equal Opportunities, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. This legislation ensures equal access to employment, education, social security, health services, housing and access to goods and services to LGBT individuals.
The Criminal Code makes hate crimes punishable when perpetrated against any social group, including hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Hungary has a lively gay scene even though the country is considered conservative.
Prejudice against LGBT individuals does exist in Hungary. According to the Equal Treatment Act, one study revealed over half of the respondents believed homosexuality to be a sickness. In addition, the survey showed that 35% of LGBT respondents had experienced discrimination due to their sexual orientations. Gay Pride marches in Budapest have been the target of anti-gay activists, though the government has worked to ensure the safety of pride participants.
LGBT organizations are free to operate in Hungary and include the Háttér Support Society for LGBT People in Hungary and the Hungarian LGBT Alliance, among many others.
Note: The abbreviation LGBT+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and the + is inclusive of other groups and identities.
Be aware that women in Hungarian workplaces often have many family responsibilities.
Gender roles continue to be fairly traditional in Hungarian culture. It is somewhat common and expected for women to stay home with children for the first three years. Limited options for part-time work make it difficult for women to maintain their careers during this time, and a shortage of daycare makes it hard for them to return to the workplace.
Avoid using an aggressive approach, as it will probably be counterproductive. Women are generally expected to be more cooperative than their male counterparts.
Although an increasing number of Hungarian women can be found in middle management, they rarely attain upper-level management positions. While confidence is appreciated in a male supervisor, women are expected to be more cooperative and empathetic. In some cases, businesswomen may face difficulties establishing their credibility in the face of paternalistic behavior. Many Hungarian men still treat women with a kind of old-fashioned romantic chivalry, which can sometimes create challenges for a woman in a management position at a Hungarian company.
In general, Hungarian women receive lower pay than men in similar positions and occupations, except in specific fields.
However, they tend to fare better in the medical and teaching professions and in administration, accounting, and human resources. There has also been a rise in the number of Hungarian women entrepreneurs. Some Hungarian women have reported seeking opportunities with multinational corporations that they felt placed a stronger focus on gender equality.
Expect to encounter somewhat traditional attitudes and chivalrous behavior toward women from male Hungarian counterparts; however, most would not have a problem reporting to a foreign woman as long as she demonstrates her competence.
Hungarian men tend to be chivalrous and somewhat protective toward women. Men typically wait for women to go through doors and exit elevators before them, but in restaurants and bars, men may enter first in order to ensure the safety and appropriateness of the place before the woman enters.
Hungarian language and customs have also maintained much of their old-world charm. Expressions such as kezét csókolom, literally, “I kiss your hand,” are still used to show respect in formal situations. On occasion, an elderly man may still kiss a woman’s hand, although, in the business world, hand-kissing is not practiced.
Foreign businesswomen should expect to encounter somewhat traditional attitudes from male Hungarian counterparts. However, they should experience few difficulties, and they will most likely be treated with respect.
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