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  • Foto van schrijverBrigitte Opel

Better mix - better company

"The door is open but how do we invite ‘them’ in?"

This was said in the SER (advisory committee for the Dutch government on socio-economic questions) last Friday, during a discussion for more diversity in companies. The coucil unanimously agreed to introduce a 30% quotum for women on Boards – this is what the media focused on. But the diversity advice went beyond that: Also the cultural diversity should be increased. 

Looking at the council itself, the representation of women was 26%, but only the guest speakers had a migrant background. Some white male participants wondered how to realize a better balance in diversity. The answer came from very eloquent guest speakers.  Marjan van Loon, President-Director of Shell NL explained that communication and decision-making processes need to change on all levels of the organization to make the step from diversity to inclusion:  “Focus on talent, on the contribution that a person brings to the company – we have a promotion board where prejudices are discussed and dismissed.” Terence Guiamo (Head Diversity & Inclusion at PwC Netherlands) confirmed that approach: people with a different skin colour are too often considered less capable.  Just as darker children still seem to get a lower level school advice than their white classmates. While it has been proven that a more colourful workforce makes a company more resilient. 

“The discussion on diversity & inclusion still seems to be about the Other, but it’s really about Us. Just opening the door isn’t good enough, we need to look for talent differently, we need to invite ALL in more actively” – after all, they’re humans with a talent!

We need to apply more self-reflection on our own preferences and judgements, it often helps to get assistance on cultural awareness, dealing with diversity and on selecting without prejudices. 

The full SER advice:

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