HBLF Celebrates Inclusion at Diversity Awards and Charter Signing Ceremony


The Hungarian Business Leaders Forum (HBLF) held its annual Diversity Awards and Charter Signing Ceremony on November 29 in Budapest, bringing together prominent players of the local business sphere.

This exclusive annual event aims to recognize and celebrate organizations that have demonstrated outstanding commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion. It also serves as an opportunity for HBLF members and signatories of the EU Diversity Charter—which HBLF is the exclusive representative of in the country—to come together, foster collaboration, share best practices, and build valuable relationships.

The event took place in the MBH Bank Headquarters in Budapest. The evening commenced with the opening speeches of guests, including H.E. Désirée Bonis, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Hungary, the keynote speaker, Andrea Istenes Solti, president of HBLF and president of the board of Shell Hungary, and Kitti Dobi, chief HR officer of MBH Bank and member of HBLF EU Diversity Charter's Advisory Board.

A thought-provoking round table discussion followed: in March 2023, HBLF launched the "CEOs for Balance" program with the 12 executives of leading companies. The goal of the initiative was to accelerate the increase of the current 10.5% of female decision-makers in Hungary to the 33% average expected at the EU level. Participants of this initiative, Andrea Istenes Solti, István Szászi, representative of the Bosch Group in Hungary and the Adria region, and Melinda Topolcsik, president and managing director of Bridgestone Tatabánya shared their experiences and engaged in a lively conversation about gender equality. The discussion was moderated by Anna Bánáti, editor and journalist of Forbes Hungary.

The evening continued with a speech by Zsuzsa Gárdus, the HBLF Board Member responsible for the EU Diversity Charter in Hungary and managing director of Jobsgarden, who welcomed the new signatories committed to creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces: the representatives of companies took the stage one by one and signed the of the EU Diversity Charter – the number of Karta members increased by 30% this year.


 The highlight of the evening was the HBLF Diversity Awards Ceremony, where exceptional organizations were recognized for their outstanding efforts to promote diversity.

Radnóti Theater’s project was awarded in the Media for Diversity category. “Radnóti Theater serves diversity with its artistic endeavors and performances. After the COVID crisis, we simply felt that we had to speak out even louder and more validly in order to strengthen attention, acceptance and solidarity in the community. When everything is so vulnerable, it is even easier for the issues and topics that preoccupy our society, which often hurt us and question humanity, to slip out of our environment and our attention," said Sarolta Schaffler, marketing and communications manager of Radnóti Theater.

"This statement is only confirmed by the raison d'être of the HBLF Diversity Award. For me, there is no question that inclusion, acceptance, and diversity are an integral part of corporate culture. And the fact that the 14 cases of Radnóti Theater won the unanimous vote of the jury is honorable and the best confirmation of our work," she added.

Lexmark International won first prize for the Diverse Organization of the Year category.

“It is an honor that the jury of the Hungarian Business Leaders Forum awarded us first place in the large company category at the Diverse Organization of the Year competition this year. The recognition is truly valuable, a prestigious award at a prestigious event. In addition to this honor, it also confirms that we are on the right track. We believe that diverse companies are more innovative and that the employees of more innovative companies are also more diverse," said Gabriella Fodor, Lexmark’s managing director.

"So, it goes back and forth: diversity breeds innovation and innovation breeds diversity. In order for this to be realized, we create an environment for our colleagues in which, by promoting mental safety, empathy, care, and acceptance, we contribute to the fact that our colleagues can be their most authentic selves in all circumstances, regardless of gender, age, skin color, sexual orientation, or religion. I would also like to thank our colleagues for voluntarily contributing to the support of all these initiatives," she noted.

Schneider Electric Hungária Villamosság Zrt. won 2nd place in the large enterprise category, while Tesco Hungary and Publicis Groupe Hungary received the prize for third place. ING Bank received a special award in the Diverse Organization of the Year’s small and medium-sized enterprise category.

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