The numbers prove we are far from there
  • Diversity

The numbers prove we are far from there

In our quest to increase diversity at the top of the corporate world, we still have a long way to go. Despite numerous studies showing that mixed teams perform better. Nor are we there yet in the world of startups and funders. For example, over the past twelve years, some ninety percent of the growth money spent in the Netherlands went to startups with only men at the helm. Fundright wants to improve that situation, NOM wants to help increase equity.

Diversity and inclusiveness. These are familiar topics for Agnes Koops. In recent years also in a managerial sense, since she grew through various management and board positions to the board of directors of accounting giant PwC Netherlands. ,,This is something we have to keep working very hard on. There is no such thing as a quick fix.''

She is shocked by the percentages when it comes to women entrepreneurs getting funding. But she's not entirely surprised. ,,I see a parallel with advancement opportunities for women and minorities in large organizations. We have to continually ask ourselves how we continue to be mindful of people who are different, how we can ensure that opportunities are equal for all.''

Almost no one is aware of it

Because that's still not the case, she acknowledges. ,,Within PwC we are rather, it will not surprise you, of 'measuring is knowing', and the figures have taught us that men on average received a better assessment in a performance interview and as a result also promoted more percentage-wise than women. These same figures are also seen in people from different backgrounds or cultures. And of course that should not and cannot be the case. It is unfair and it is better for every company if there is more diversity in all layers.''

Within PwC, the figures are being used to open eyes. ''Hardly anyone was aware of this skewed distribution. Ratings don't deliberately fall lower for people who are different. That has everything to do with how processes work in our heads; it's in people. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't do anything about it. Recognizing that there is a problem is the first step. That's hard enough, because most of us think we're doing very well ourselves. That's why the bare figures are so important, to show that the reality is different.''

At PwC, that step has been taken. They actively work to counter innate and learned prejudices. We do cause analysis, try to find out why people see things through a certain lens and do something about it. In courses and trainings we try to create awareness and challenge each other to change their perspective. And through structural solutions, such as an 'independent third party', we provide an outside critical view during our assessment processes, for example.

Inclusiveness helps every business move forward

For our consultants and accountants, it is very important to encourage diversity, says Agnes Koops. ,,You notice more and more that our clients demand it. A diverse management or supervisory board doesn't want to sit opposite three men in suits from PwC. But apart from that: we don't just audit figures, we are also asked for advice. That can include advice on addressing a lack of diversity within an organization. Then, of course, we have to set a good example ourselves.''

For her, there is no question that diversity and, more importantly, inclusiveness is what moves any business forward. ,,Inclusiveness is about the culture within an organization. That you are allowed to be who you are and therefore appreciated. If a culture is open, you encourage progress. If the employee base is as much a reflection of society as possible, then that definitely benefits the quality of the organization.''

Small steps help little. This problem needs to be tackled big. ''This is not an issue of the HR department, this is a task for everyone. Ask yourself the simple question: do I discriminate? Do I sufficiently value people who are different from me? Am I willing to look beyond someone who looks like me? Where it chafes may actually be where it gets interesting. By starting the conversation with each other about this, you get to know each other, appreciate each other more quickly and are on your way to an inclusive organization. It's a matter of really listening, of being curious about the other person, of facing the value of another. That may not sound difficult, but it is. It's hard work and really, we still have a way to go ourselves.''


TechLeap and 25 investment funds launched the movement Fundright in the summer of 2019. Their goal: to dramatically improve diversity within the startup ecosystem. Among other things, by looking more consciously at the gender distribution within the startups to which funding is provided. Meanwhile, all regional investment funds and lots of Venture Capitalists joined.

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