By Joost Fortuin

Managing Director PageGroup the Netherlands

If you want to your organisation to still be here 20 years, you have to embrace diversity and inclusiveness (D&I). But how do you bring about more diversity? These steps are crucial.

Many Dutch employers are convinced that the benefits of a diverse workforce are directly measurable in the company results. Nevertheless, there is still much to be gained in Dutch business in terms of equality, openness and acceptance.

That is by no means idealistic. There are also strategic benefits to be gained from an active diversity policy. A diverse workforce ensures better alignment of your workforce with your customers, connection to a wider customer base, access to more investors, a stronger reputation and higher productivity.

These are the 6 most important steps towards more diversity in the workplace:

1. Don't be too quick to think you're there

The Dutch see themselves as a progressive and modern people, but that can also be a pitfall. It can make us complacent. We're already come a long way terms of equality and acceptance, haven't we? Unfortunately, this is not by any means always the case. For example, we still see a relatively large number of white men in senior management positions, while no one would dare to claim that women or people of colour are less capable.

2. Set clear goals

It is useful to formulate clear goals in advance and to carefully monitor the progress of the efforts. Do you want a certain percentage of women in senior positions? Then draw up a realistic plan. That means not only formulating the goal, but also considering how you are going to get there. For example, it could mean offering coaching and training where necessary. Or introducing flexibility to meet the needs of older employees.

3. Formulate a clear policy

Do you offer flexible working hours, for instance? Or the option to log in from home? Is support offered for when people return from maternity leave? Are there enough promotion opportunities for all? Can your people follow training courses? Does your company have a clear policy on diversity and inclusiveness?

4. Create awareness

PageGroup and many other large, international organisations have a special team in place that is responsible for this. But if your organisation is smaller in scale, HR or general management can also put the subject of Diversity & Inclusiveness on the agenda. Putting something on the agenda means acknowledgement, and that leads to a dialogue. That's what's needed. Because if you think you're already there, you often stop talking about it.

5. Start at the top

Responsibility for the D&I strategy should lie primarily at the highest level of the organisation. The executives must support and promote the goals. They should act as role models and ensure that regulations, business processes and diversity and inclusiveness metrics are implemented and complied with. This must be complied with by all levels of management. After all, the line managers have the greatest influence on the culture and day-to-day course of events.

6. Provide solid feedback

Personnel must also endorse the policy. You could consider opening a discussion forum where everyone can express their opinion and you can openly discuss relevant topics. Either way, remember to make sure that there is two-way communication: listening to feedback is essential to engaging your employees on issues that are so important to the company as a whole.

Reap the rewards

PageGroup's efforts in the area of D&I area have borne fruit. For example, we saw many more young mothers continuing their careers with us after maternity leave. We have also managed to achieve a higher percentage of women in senior positions. This is how we work on essential elements of our business strategy: a larger internal management pool, retention of talent and continuity in the long-term relationships with our customers. The value of this... cannot be expressed in monetary terms.

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