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The geography of corporate welfare in Italy

A recently published article analyses the ways in which territorial agreements are being developed to replace social welfare

Companies come to society’s rescue. We are not talking about do-gooders, but what is now known as corporate welfare. It’s a continuation of what some large companies have been doing for a while now: assisting employees, even outside of work. The latest step taken, in the case of national collective bargaining as well, is to spread the various forms of corporate welfare, which were isolated from one another until a few years ago.

Valentino Santoni (from the Centro Studi Einaudi, University of Milan) has tried to take a systematic approach to the issue in his article “Reti d’impresa e accordi territoriali per il welfare aziendale: i tratti distintivi delle esperienze italiane” (Business networks and territorial agreements for corporate welfare: distinctive traits of Italian case studies), which recently appeared in the publication Sociologia del lavoro (Sociology of Work).

Santoni’s investigation starts with an observation: changes in the social and democratic structure of our country, the emergence of new social risks and the consequences arising from the recent economic crisis have profoundly changed the face of the Italian welfare system. There are two sides to the subject identified by the author. On the one hand, the public social welfare system appears to be in increasing difficulty; on the other, forms of social intervention have emerged in response to this problem. By mobilising non-public economic resources, these can be integrated into the welfare state and help to sustain it.

This is the point where the various corporate welfare activities (which are now included in national work contracts) are conceived and developed. Santoni goes on to explore the links between business networks in the country and territorial agreements for welfare, aiming to isolate the traits that are characteristic of the Italian experience.

Santoni discovered that the spreading of this phenomenon does not seem to be uniform across the country and that one of the most effective ways to create corporate welfare activities is to join forces with others. Understanding the potential of corporate welfare, the research explains that in the last period, there have been many instances where networks of companies have been established or where companies have participated in multi-party networks with Third Sector organisations and public institutions. The research aimed to identify and investigate the key characteristics that help concisely describe the experiences in Italy. The result is a map of corporate welfare experiences, which is useful to get a better understanding of the activities that are evolving in our country. A must-read.

“Reti d’impresa e accordi territoriali per il welfare aziendale: i tratti distintivi delle esperienze italiane”

Valentino Santoni (Centro Studi Einaudi, University of Milan)

Sociologia del lavoro, 2019, File: 153