Italian food giant Cigna has decided to donate its entire global workforce to charity after it was accused of hiring racist employees.

The Italian company announced in December that it would invest €500m ($600m) over the next five years in the creation of a diversity fund, which will be run by the company’s own recruitment and diversity programme.

In a statement, Cignas management said the move was made “because we are in this collectively together”.

“We are in an era when the need for inclusion is more and more prevalent.

The world is a better place for diverse groups and we are committed to supporting them through our diversity initiatives,” Cignac said.”

This is not only about creating jobs, but about building the foundations for our employees to build a future of equality.

This is the reason why we have chosen to invest this much into this fund.”

Cigna, founded in 1928 by Italian businessman Mario Molinari, employs some 100,000 people in the US and other parts of Europe.

It employs over 5,000 of them in its retail business.

In 2015, the company was accused by former employees of hiring and promoting racist behaviour towards people of colour.

“The racist behaviour was part of a larger culture that was also deeply entrenched at the company,” one former employee told the New York Times.

“We were taught that people of color had a better job and were valued more than white people.”

Cernavogli, the Italian newspaper that first reported on the allegations, reported that one former Cignavoglis manager had allegedly told his colleague, “If you’re a white man, you’re doing well.”

Carmen Sasso, a spokesperson for Cignás said the company “has not been able to identify the specific individuals involved”.

“It is not possible to identify who may have been involved, but we will investigate to make sure that the allegations are correct and that the company will act responsibly in the future,” she said.

Cignátas board has since announced it would create a diversity programme, and its hiring policy has been amended to include the “anti-racism and anti-discrimination” principles it outlined in its announcement.