Poland’s small expat community is continuously growing. Nearly 10 percent of the population is non-Polish nationals, creating a diverse community for expats.
Accessibility in Poland
In recent years, the government has been focused on improving the freedom of movement for people of all abilities, allocating billions of zlotys in funding. The effects of this drive to accessibility have been noticeable in larger cities, especially Krakow and Warsaw. The latter was chosen as the recipient of the EU’s Access City Award in 2020, thanks to major improvements to accessibility over a fairly short period of time, as well as the city’s commitment to continued improvements.
In larger cities, it is fairly easy to get around as buses and the Warsaw Metro are largely wheelchair friendly. Travelling by commuter train isn’t as convenient, however, as sometimes ramps are unavailable. Those intending to travel by train can arrange for assistance in advance – this needs to be booked about 72 hours ahead of travel.
LGBTQ+ in Poland
Polish society is traditionally conservative when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity. Attitudes toward the LGBTQ+ community are slowly shifting and becoming more accepting. Homosexuality has been legal in Poland since 1932, and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in employment has been illegal since 2003.
Various non-governmental organisations campaign to raise awareness of issues such as same-sex inheritance and transgender rights, though it does have to be stated that same-sex couples are not yet permitted to adopt children and transgender individuals face difficulty in changing their legal gender.
Private-sector companies, especially global ones, play a proactive role in creating working environments that are friendly for LGBTQ+ employees. This can include policies that allow same-sex couples the same benefits as heterosexual couples.
Larger cities often have lively LGBTQ+ communities, with new bars and nightclubs popping up all the time. Warsaw is the home of the Equality Parade, the largest gay pride parade in Eastern and Central Europe. In addition, the mayor of Warsaw has publicly pledged his support to the LGBTQ+ community, leading the Equality Parade in 2019 and 2021, and signing the country’s first declaration against LGBTQ+ discrimination in 2019.
Gender equality in Poland
Equality between men and women is enshrined in the Polish constitution. Though progress has been made on some fronts, in practice, gender inequality remains a problem in various areas of life. In the economic sphere, however, strides have been made, and the situation continues to improve.
Although there is a pay gap between men and women, it’s relatively small at 10 percent when compared to the OECD average of 16 percent.
Women in leadership in Poland
Although leadership in Poland remains largely dominated by men, the proportion of female leadership continually rises year by year, signalling a change.
As a step towards equality, global standards aim for a representation of 30 percent in major companies. In 2021, 16 percent of leadership in Poland’s 140 major companies was female, a figure that has been continually rising over the past few years. Female representation in parliament is also increasing, with women making up 28 percent of parliamentary roles in 2020, up from 18 percent in 2010.
Mental health awareness in Poland
Studies have shown that expats can be at greater risk of mental health problems. This often manifests itself in the form of expat depression but cases of stress, anxiety and isolation among the expat community are also common.
More and more companies are becoming aware of the impact of mental health issues and adjusting policies to better support those who experience difficulties. This includes offering more comprehensive healthcare schemes to employees, providing better coverage for mental health problems, as well as creating awareness of mental health in the workplace by holding in-house workshops. Depression, in particular, has received much needed attention and is now more broadly discussed.
There are many excellent private counsellors, and in practice most expats will be able to access the services of a private psychiatrist or psychologist when living in Poland. We advise that expats ensure that their international health insurance covers access therapy and other support services.
Unconscious bias training in Poland
The concept of unconscious bias is an implicit set of often stereotyped ideas an individual carries about groups of people different to themselves. Everyone holds some degree of unconscious bias – not as the result of a purposeful decision but rather an unnoticed development over time. People are more likely to hold unconscious bias about groups they rarely or never come into contact with, and this is no different in Poland.
Unconscious bias can deeply affect both personal and work conditions. In the workplace, unchecked bias undermines vital aspects of the company, with negative effects on recruitment as well as employee retention and performance. To improve awareness and create a better work environment, many companies are beginning to institute unconscious bias training. There are also numerous online resources that can be used to improve self-awareness regarding bias.
Diversification in the workplace in Poland
Poland’s inclusion in the European Union brought an influx of foreign capital and investment, and the relocation of major global businesses. Foreign nationals are employed across a wide range of businesses and offices buzz with English, French and German.
Poland’s economic success and continuing internationalisation is contributing to a better working environment for all. Progressive firms, particularly the global players, are working to ensure that there is no discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender and gender identity, religious beliefs or physical ability.
Safety in Poland
Poland is by and large a safe country, with low rates of violent and non-violent crime compared to other European countries. Nevertheless, it’s important to take basic precautions to avoid becoming a victim of petty crime, which can occur in big cities.
Pickpocketing and other opportunistic crime mostly occurs in busy settings, such as tourist areas and at public transport stations. It’s best to keep belongings tucked away safely in these areas.
Calendar initiatives in Poland
4 February – World Cancer Day
8 March – International Women’s Day
7 April – World Health Day
19 May – Global Accessibility Awareness Day
10 September – World Suicide Prevention Day
8 October –World Mental Health Day
14 November – World Diabetes Day
18 November – End Child Sex Abuse Day
25 November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
1 December – World AIDS Day