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Rockets from pro-Iran militias against an international coalition base in Syria: “This is just the beginning”

Rome, 20 April. – (Demographics/beraking latest news) – To combat the birth rate decline, a long-term strategy and constant monitoring of the results are needed. Luigi Cimmino Caserta, head of institutional relations at KraftHeinz Italia Plasmon, speaks as a company manager, but it is not due to professional deformation. His is a real recipe. Not only because the company for which it works with its biscuits – and not only – has accompanied millions of Italians during childhood (and sometimes even into adulthood), but also because Plasmon has been committed to spreading change for years cultural and economic so that those who want to have children but don’t feel like it are put in a position to have them.

This is a problem with many roots and therefore must be addressed from different angles. Starting from an assumption: the birth rate is a problem. To understand why, just ask yourself, as Cimmino Caserta did when answering questions from beraking latest news, what model we want to have in our country: “Do we want to have a model in which healthcare is guaranteed to everyone? In which it will be possible to pay pensions or have a growth in the job market? And again, have greater productivity”? The birth rate decline, explains the manager, “is only a red light which is, fortunately, opening up a whole series of considerations”.

Annual objectives, continuous actions and monitoring

But where are we today and how did we find ourselves in the current situation, which Italy sees fully demographic winterwith a birth rate in 2023 of 1.2 children per woman whereas the replacement rate, which would allow a population to remain stable, is 2.1 children per woman?

“Unfortunately we find ourselves managing a moment that is the result of something that happened in the past, that is, always thinking for very short-term objectives without having a medium or long-term plan”. Which instead is exactly what is needed: a vision over time, acting on the basis of that and then going “every year to see what actions you can take to get closer, and then after a year you understand if you are in line or not. line”.

“If for example, as Istat also said, the objective could be 500 thousand new births by 2030, it must be established what we do every year, what we expect and how we measure the results year on year”, explains Cimmino, underlining: “Meloni is right in saying ‘we are carrying out activities, we have included aid and support in the budget laws’, but the real point is, what do we expect to happen”?

Furthermore, the manager highlights, actions and commitment should be daily: “I agree with Gigi De Palo when he says that he shouldn’t organize the General States of Birth because they should be held almost every day, because it can’t be that there is a moment a year in which we talk about it but then in the end we stop thinking. If there isn’t a priority, if there isn’t a culture of going in this direction, it’s clear that you’re struggling a lot, it takes a lot of time and instead we should set up a small task force.”

We have all the ingredients, we are missing the recipe

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In short, Cimmino specifies with a metaphor that will return several times during the interview: “At the moment we have a whole series of ingredients on the table to make an excellent dish, but we don’t have the elements to understand how we have to put them together, how long and what we should expect for each phase.”

A managerial approach of which Cimmino is aware, but which he considers indispensable, because in this respect it is a bit as if we were at year if not zero, little more: “We have reached a point in which we have realized that there is a problem without we have finally laid the foundations to try to counteract this problem. The real point is to ask for everyone’s involvement and set annual objectives. And this is definitely the important role that companies can play because they are used to thinking in this way.”

Yet, the Meloni government has made the birth rate a priority and has implemented various initiatives, as she herself recalled during a recent Roman conference dedicated precisely to the demographic transition and the future. An occasion in which he also underlined how there are economic reasons behind the desolate Italian birth rates (and Europeans, because in the Old Continent we are in ‘good company’) but above all, in his opinion, cultural ones, that is, a narrative which in In recent decades it has made not having children a choice of freedom and having children out of fashion.

But is it really like that?

Having children: a cultural and economic problem

In this regard, Cimmino Caserta specifies: “The areas are different because there is certainly a cultural aspect, but we have also carried out surveys specifically on the target of young people and the point emerges that the uncertainty of the future, in addition to financial sustainability, is binding and prior to the choice of whether or not to have a child”. The manager continues: “Where I certainly agree with Meloni is that we need to change the narrative that a child is a problem when the child is an asset, not only for the parents but also for the community, because having a workforce, having one more citizen means creating a future for the country we live in too.”

“So – he continues – this is also the reason why we took the field on one hand for our people, trying to implement actions with a parental policy that focused precisely on flexibility, on shared parenting with economic support and on training, because Indeed, it is certainly also a cultural theme.”

And if the narrative is important, we start by starting to talk about it in a serene way: “We are also trying to present ourselves in public, institutional environments where we talk about it in extremely positive terms, with the commitment of wanting to contribute even a little to the system Village”.

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Always respecting the positions of those who think differently and make other choices but, and this is a point on which Cimmino insists several times, those who want to have children must be put in a position to be able to do so: “It is normal that there are people who they independently decide not to want a child, but many tell us ‘I would like to but I don’t feel able because I don’t have faith in the future, I don’t have a financial possibility, I can’t balance private life and work’, and therefore internally we are intervening in this direction. Externally we are proposing solutions to the legislator, saying that the solutions already exist, we just need to make sure we put everything in line.”

Companies already have solutions to propose

In fact, good practices come from companies that should be exported “so that the legislator can capture them as actions to improve the trajectory. Already in the 2024 budget law some of the actions that have been promoted are exactly in line with what we are doing as a company. It is one of those areas in which copying things done well is not forbidden, in fact it is recommended.”

Among the good practices implemented by Plasmon there are truly incisive measures, designed according to the pillars that emerged from listening to employees. First of all flexibility, therefore the possibility of reconciling work with personal life: smart working, paid time off for medical visits, working 4 days out of 5 at full salary for women returning from maternity leave. Then shared parenting: a 100% maternity supplement, 60 days paid at 100% for the second caregiver, 5-month parental leave supplement at 60% for the woman. And again, nursery schools paid for up to three years of the child’s life, and then all educational expenses, on the order of 4-500 euros per month, from four to ten years. Finally, for the first 1000 days of children, a supply of food products is provided, obviously from the company.

Measures that also have positive implications at work, the manager underlines: “If you want people who are engaged in what they do and who also identify value in the company in which they work, they must feel good, so it is clear that if you put in these conditions you also have people who definitely produce much more than the average”.

But companies like Plasmon can also do something to change the cultural narrative: “For example, we have created a book where people know exactly what the law says and this also helps on a cultural level. Then we activated personalized mentoring and coaching paths not only linked to the woman or partner who is about to become a father or mother, but also to managers, because one is not always prepared to manage one’s collaborator who is about to have a child or a woman going on maternity leave.”

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“Well, this changes the narrative, practically it becomes an asset to have a boy or a girl, because it predisposes people to have greater harmony in their personal and professional fields, and this is not just Plasmon doing, many are doing it”.

Many but not all: Italy is a country of small and medium-sized businesses, could this lead to greater cultural or economic difficulties in introducing welfare measures?

“Of course yes – explains Cimmino Caserta -. The point of the institutional incentive is precisely that.” That is, to ensure that even the small company that is having difficulty does it because it is convenient for them and it is easier for them to do so.

Networking to make an impact all together

Another fundamental aspect of the recipe for combating the birth rate decline, according to the Plasmon manager, is to “avoid silo approaches”, and instead network, “sharing the experiences and efforts between companies, civil society and all the stakeholders who in somehow they can do something.” The role of the Regions is also fundamental, because only through them can we get down to the concrete.

Precisely with these objectives, Plasmon created the Adamo Network, which celebrated its one-year anniversary in February and brings together companies (Chicco and Edenred also involved), institutions, civil society and the scientific world. Cimmino Caserta explains: “What is undoubtedly happening is that there is a big movement with many entities that want to have a leading role, take the lead, to change the trajectory of this country. It’s no coincidence that we made this really strong, impactful emotional documentary film, which tells you ‘Look, one day there will be the last child, do we want to change this trajectory or not?’. To do this we need to accelerate.”

The docufilm Cimmino refers to is titled ‘Adamo 2050’, and imagines that in 2050 the last child, Adam, is born and will find himself in complete solitude. A topic covered by the Minister for Family, Birth and Equal Opportunities Eugenia Roccella during the Roman conference mentioned above: the family network is thinning and becoming increasingly sparse, and this is a loss of primary social relationships that impoverishes life of people. Cimmino agrees: “These are riches that are priceless”.

And if Prime Minister Meloni said she would like “a world where being a father is not out of fashion, and being a mother is a socially recognized and valued value”, what is the world that Plasmon would like?

“A world in harmony, where parenting is shared and there is openness and acceptance towards all multicultural realities, because now there is an international reality and acceptance as a basis. So I don’t feel like saying there should be just one model”, concludes Cimmino Caserta.

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