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Read on to learn about some of the nuances surrounding diversity and inclusion in Spain.
Accessibility in Spain
Spain aims to enable people with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life. There have been huge improvements in recent years, but accessibility can vary from area to area, and expats with disabilities should do thorough research before moving to Spain.
There are good facilities for the disabled in major cities like Barcelona and Madrid, with an increasing number of accessible parking spaces, ramps and elevators in public buildings, and audio and visual signals at pedestrian crossings. Over 90 percent of the metro stations in Barcelona are accessible, as are around 70 percent of metro stations in Madrid. Airports in Spain offer assistance to people with reduced mobility, and most train stations and city buses have been adapted to include ramps and elevators.
LGBTQ+ in Spain
Spain has a long history of tolerance and acceptance towards the LGBTQ+ community, and it is generally considered to be a welcoming and inclusive country for LGBTQ+ individuals. In 2005, Spain became one of the first countries in the world to legalise same-sex marriage. The country also has anti-discrimination laws in place to protect LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination in the workplace and other areas of life.
Most Spaniards are accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, and there are thriving LGBTQ+ communities in many of the major cities, with numerous events and festivals throughout the year celebrating diversity and inclusion.
Despite the generally positive attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community in Spain, it is important to note that discrimination and harassment can still occur, particularly in more conservative areas of the country. Overall, however, Spain is a welcoming and inclusive country for LGBTQ+ individuals.
Gender equality in Spain
Spain has made significant progress in terms of gender equality in recent years and ranks 6th in the EU on the Gender Equality Index, putting it towards the top of the group of 27 countries. The Spanish government has implemented various laws and policies to promote gender equality and protect women from discrimination.
Despite this progress, gender inequality persists in Spain in several areas. For example, women in Spain continue to face challenges in terms of achieving equal pay for equal work, and they are underrepresented in many leadership positions. The gender pay gap in Spain is around 8 percent (2022). This is, however, a significant improvement to a pay gap of 20 percent in 2010.
Women in leadership in Spain
Women in Spain are increasingly well represented in the workforce and in leadership. In the general election which took place in April 2019, almost half of the deputies in Spain’s lower parliamentary house were women. This makes Spain the European country with the highest percentage of women in parliament, giving it a larger proportion of female lawmakers than even Sweden. There has also been progress in business, with the percentage of women on the boards of listed companies reaching 24 percent in 2019, up from 20 percent in 2018.
Mental health awareness in Spain
Expats can be at greater risk of mental health issues, especially depression and anxiety, exacerbated by stress and loneliness. Fortunately for expats moving to Spain, there is a good range of mental health services, both private and publicly funded.
Most international companies have policies in place to provide support for employees with mental health issues, and mental illness is usually covered by employee health insurance schemes, although this is worth checking.
Expats living and working in Spain are entitled to the same free state healthcare as Spanish citizens. Any dependents are also covered if they live in Spain. However, free healthcare will not cover all treatments. Those registered with the public healthcare system are entitled to receive mental healthcare services, including therapy and medication if needed. That said, the availability and accessibility of these services may vary depending on the location and the individual's circumstances, and it will not cover all treatments, including psychotherapy. Expats in Spain who require mental healthcare services usually opt to visit a private psychologist or psychiatrist, rather than make use of the public system.
Unconscious bias training in Spain
Unconscious bias is an implicit set of often stereotyped ideas an individual carries about groups of people different to themselves. These ideas are not purposefully adopted but rather develop subtly over time, and people tend to hold unconscious biases about groups they never or rarely come into contact with. As a result, they're often inaccurate and based on assumptions. Spain is no exception, and employers are likely to employ its own nationals, or nationals of other EU countries, before hiring other foreigners, even if they are otherwise qualified for the job.
Unconscious bias can profoundly affect both personal and work conditions. In the workplace, unchecked bias undermines vital aspects of the company, with negative effects on employee performance, retention, and recruitment. In a bid to create a better work environment, many companies are beginning to establish unconscious bias training. There are also a number of online resources that can be used to improve self-awareness regarding bias.
Diversification in the workplace in Spain
Companies in Spain are embracing diversity as the benefit of building a diverse and engaged workforce becomes more obvious. Around 15 percent of the country’s labour force is foreign workers. Moroccans make up the largest percentage of foreigners living in Spain, followed by Romanians and people from the UK. Madrid is home to almost 1 million foreign residents. Barcelona also has a large population of foreigners, and attracts 8 million tourists each year, making it the third most popular destination in Europe, after London and Paris. There are also many expats, particularly Brits, living in the Costa del Sol and in Sotogrande. There are strict labour laws in Spain that prohibit discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, marital status, ethnic or national origin, disability or religion.
Safety in Spain
Spain is one of the safest countries in Europe, with a low percentage of violent crimes or terrorism, but expats moving to the country should still take the same sensible precautions that they would at home. While public transport is generally safe, there is a risk of pickpocketing in crowded trains and stations, particularly in tourist areas.
The 2022 Global Peace Index, which considers crime, as well as war and terrorism, named Spain the 29th safest country in the world, ahead of the UK at 34th, and the US at 129th.
Calendar initiatives in Spain
January – Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
4 February – World Cancer Day
8 March – International Women’s Day
March – TB Awareness Month
April – Stress Awareness Month
1 May – Labour Day
19 May – Global Accessibility Awareness Day
June – Pride month (events in Madrid and Barcelona)
10 September – World Suicide Prevention Day
October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month
10 October –World Mental Health Day
14 November – World Diabetes Day
November – Men’s Health Month ('Movember')
1 December – World AIDS Day
Are you an expat living in Spain?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Spain. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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