Scientific research shows that results improve in a diverse and inclusive organizational culture. What measures are companies taking to promote diversity & inclusiveness in their organizations? And does this affect leadership style? We are curious if and how entrepreneurs are picking up on this.
Director/Owner Personal Too, Director at VNONCWMKB Noord, Supervisory Director at Fier and Nijestee and President of Aletta Jacobs North Netherlands Foundation.
Consultancy and Strategy
Governance, diversity and inclusion and entrepreneurship with impact.
How is D&I one of your focus areas?
In fact, I know no better than that I feel involved in these issues. It started when, at twenty-one, I ended up on the board of the emancipation bureau Friesland. I noticed that men and women were not always treated equally and I found that so illogical. As a woman, I have not felt hindered from doing what I want. Basically, I believe you can achieve anything you want. But that is not something that can be taken for granted. That's why I make a strong case for improving the position of women.
How do others perceive your leadership style?
In general, people find me quite clear and direct in the sense that I am very focused on where we all want to go. My style is facilitative; I like to contribute to the personal development and growth of employees. I am also an adaptive leader. By this I mean that I adapt my style to my role in a situation and can change gears quickly.
Are you still primarily focused on women?
No. Meanwhile, I look more broadly and find that many companies can and should make their products and services more inclusive. The mainstream offerings are too often standard and do not meet the expectations of large and important target groups such as people from immigrant backgrounds, people with chronic illnesses or disabilities, women and singles. I see entrepreneurs missing so many markets. I want to show them that diverse and inclusive entrepreneurship leads to innovation and better products and services. On top of that, it's also important to be an attractive employer. The labor market is tight, many different types of people are needed. They will choose an inclusive work environment if given the chance.
How do you do that, become more diverse and inclusive?
Diversity and inclusiveness to me is about looking beyond your nose, daring to be uncomfortable at times, and acting agile, resilient and innovative. You have to work actively and hard at that, and sometimes that is quite exciting. Society is becoming more diverse anyway. If you want to play a role in this with your company, you will have to cross thresholds and broaden your view. You can do that by hiring someone who is a little less like yourself and in a private setting by going to a different cultural festival or eating somewhere other than a pizzeria.
Are enterprises making any progress with D&I?
A number of less pleasant examples have ensured that D&I is now accelerated high on the agenda at companies. Of course it is unfortunate that it had to happen this way, but sometimes it is necessary. Awareness is arising and that is good. D&I concerns the entire organization, but top management must set a good example. And that goes beyond just checking a box. Diversity is not always fun right away; it also takes some getting used to each other. With NOM we are starting a series of relay events to speed up the process. Under the title 'Stop Talking, Start Doing' we will continue to work together with entrepreneurs, investors, education and policy makers on a more inclusive Northern Netherlands. Because that will benefit us all. We've talked about it long enough now.