Welcome to the seventh installment in the ongoing Local Diversity and Inclusion Spotlight series. In these blog posts, we’ll be exploring how various countries around the world address diversity and inclusion in their culture and workplace.
Our newest spotlight country? Ukraine, a country that celebrates its “Day of Unity” in January.
Here are five things to know about diversity and inclusion in Ukraine.
Homosexual acts are legal; however, same-sex unions and same-sex marriage are not recognized in Ukraine.
Homosexual acts were decriminalized in 1991. The age of consent is 16 years for both homosexuals and heterosexuals. Same-sex marriage is not legal or recognized in Ukraine, where laws define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. As of 2019, there is some political discussion regarding the recognition of same-sex partnerships.
A transgender individual may legally change their name and gender only after sex reassignment surgery has been completed; however, they may receive new documents prior to the surgery.
Ukraine is a conservative country, especially in the Western rural areas.
Ukrainian society tends to be resistant to accepting sexual minorities, although these attitudes are changing. The Orthodox Church takes a strong stance against gay rights. However, over time, polls find that more and more Ukrainians are beginning to support equal rights for LGBT people.
The country does not have a large gay scene. Kiev, the country’s capital, is the LGBT center of Ukraine. The city offers limited gay venues that include a few bars, clubs, beaches, and parks. The cities of Kharkov and Simeiz also offer limited LGBT venues. Rural areas of Ukraine, especially in the western part of the country, tend to be extremely conservative.
Foreign businesswomen should be prepared to make an extra effort to prove their credibility and professionalism.
One legacy of the Soviet era, when everyone was expected to work, is that women have a strong presence in the workplace. However, there is significant pressure on young Ukrainian women to marry early and have children. Because of the difficulty of balancing work and family (and the traditional expectation that the woman takes on the bulk of the child-rearing responsibilities), women are often limited to lower-level service and administrative roles. Nevertheless, with hard work and professionalism, a number of women have made their way into middle management positions and are fully accepted there. There is still a glass ceiling that prevents women from reaching executive positions in great numbers.
Do not be surprised by a different standard of acceptable workplace interactions between men and women.
Western-style feminism has not had a great impact in Ukraine, so the standards of acceptable workplace behavior do not reflect a high awareness of sexual harassment issues. Women are expected to look and act in a more traditionally feminine way than would be the norm in multinational companies. Men are less constrained about comments and behavior that might be considered inappropriate elsewhere. Also, there is less vigilance about workplace relationships than in many Western cultures and flirting and office relationships may be fairly common.
Foreign businesswomen should dress and act in a professional manner to establish credibility and trust.
Ukrainians tend to be very image-conscious and may judge others based on personal appearance and grooming. Even the choice of accessories, like a mobile phone, can affect a businesswoman’s credibility.
Interested in more diversity and inclusion information for countries around the world?