Promoting inclusion and equal opportunities: interview with Forest Whitaker
27.06.2022 | Diversity and inclusion
Empowering everyone to find their place in society, regardless of their vulnerability, is essential to living together. Meeting with Forest Whitaker, artist and social activist, UNESCO Special Envoy and founder and CEO of the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative, who explains the importance of involving economic actors such as BNP Paribas at his side.
At BNP Paribas, we have been pursuing an active policy in favour of diversity, equal opportunities and inclusion since 2004. This is why we support international initiatives such as the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative, created in 2012 by Forest Whitaker, to intervene in countries affected by violence and poverty.
Since 2018, BNP Paribas has been supporting Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI) education and entrepreneurship programmes in the United States and South Africa. In 2021, the Group chose to extend its sponsorship to Mexico and France (Seine-Saint-Denis department).
What types of partners do you work with in the field (associations, governments, companies, etc.) and how do you identify them?
F.W.: In the field, we work with all types of partners – national or local governments, associations and international organisations.
What matters to us is effective action and sustainable results. It is on this basis that we identify our partners so that our programmes fit into the non-profit and institutional landscape of the regions where we operate (South Sudan, Uganda, South Africa, Mexico, and the United States).
How does a partner such as BNP Paribas support you in the field, and what role do you think large companies should play in these challenges?
F.W.: BNP Paribas supports us as our main partner in Seine-Saint-Denis, France; in Cape Town, South Africa and in Mexico. BNP Paribas also supports us by helping us, for example, to forge partnerships with local players or by offering internships or even temporary positions to our young people.
In South Africa, BNP Paribas commissioned a statistical survey to help us better understand the impact of violence in Cape Town. The top managers from the South African branch also gave their time by participating in the mentoring programme for our young leaders.
I think these actions are good examples of the leverage effects that a large company can provide to strengthen the impact of an organisation like WPDI in the regions and for the benefit of the communities that need it.