Niet jouw intenties die ongetwijfeld goed zijn, gaan het verschil maken voor inclusiviteit maar je deskundigheid en je vaardigheden.Investeer daarin!
Een vreemd verschijnsel in de organisatiewereld van diversiteit en inclusie is de wijdverbreide aanname dat het wel goed komt als je maar van goede wil bent. Geen enkele organisatie zou zijn financiële huishouding overlaten aan de goede wil van medewerkers alleen – er zouden meteen zorgen opkomen over de juistheid, de volledigheid, de rechtmatigheid van de financiële acties. Ook voor de juridische afdeling, de ontwerpers of de onderwijzers wordt het volkomen normaal geacht, zelfs een harde beroepseis, dat deze medewerkers een opleiding en/of ervaring in hun vakgebied hebben, vaak in combinatie met bij- en nascholingen.
Helaas komt het bij diversiteit & inclusie regelmatig voor dat dergelijke eisen niet gesteld worden. Er zijn benoemingen van diversity managers puur gebaseerd op de betreffende medewerker’s interesse voor het onderwerp; echt, dat is geen uitzondering. Blijkbaar wordt zoiets niet ingeschat als een risico voor de organisatie, en de keerzijde van die gedachte is dan ook dat het goed inzetten van diversiteit & inclusie niet kritisch is voor het succes van de organisatie. Toch is dat wel zo…
Deze blog is te beperkt voor het noemen van allerlei voorbeelden die dat aantonen. Mijn boek Voorbij het Verschil geeft er wel veel. Je kunt dat boek kopen en wellicht spreekt het je zo aan dat je mee wilt doen met de masterclass Inclusief Leiderschap op 11 september a.s. In deze masterclass lopen we de hoofdthema’s van inclusief leiderschap door en is er veel ruimte om – vertrouwelijk – de casuïstiek van de deelnemers te bespreken. Daarom is de groep niet groot; bij veel aanmeldingen wordt niet de groep uitgebreid maar een extra datum gepland zodat de persoonlijke aandacht maximaal blijft.
De ambitie is om van diversiteit & inclusie het vak te maken dat het daadwerkelijk is; daardoor neemt de effectiviteit van interventies aanzienlijk toe! Zo creëren we organisaties waarin medewerkers van alle soorten en maten kunnen en willen werken; organisaties die het effect sorteren waar onze maatschappij blij van wordt…
Vorige week gaf ik op Palmpasen (zondag = een gewone werkdag aldaar) een training over genderdiversiteit aan een team van een groot Jordaans bedrijf. ‚Zaten daar ook mannen bij‘, wordt me nogal eens gevraagd over trainingen in de Arabische wereld. Het antwoord is ja, en vaak in meerderheid. En ze staan bijna allemaal positief tegenover gender diversiteit— Nederlandse discussies als ‚waarom moet dit eigenlijk en waarom heeft dit nu prioriteit‘ worden in landen als Jordanië overgeslagen. Je gaat er gewoon aan het werk en daarmee maak je sneller meters.
Tijdens de training kwam via social media het bericht over de aanslagen op Koptische christenen in Egypte binnen. De verslagenheid was groot. De deelnemers vergeleken het meteen met een grote aanslag in Bagdad, 94 doden, aan de vooravond van een islamitisch feest en interpreteerden dat terreur juist mikt op mensen die rustig bidden en in vrede hun godsdienst willen belijden.
De wereld kunnen we niet veranderen maar op de inclusiviteit van onze eigen organisatie hebben we wel grip, meenden zij. En zo is het. We hebben ook de rest van de dag hard doorgewerkt. Hou je van diversiteit & inclusie, laat je dan niet ontmoedigen en onderneem actie op de terreinen waarop je zelf invloed hebt.
On the groundfloor the program was accessible for all: drinks, food, all Amsterdam made. Think of Kesbeke, Frites uit Zuyd, and the best peanut butter I ever ate – but strange enough the website of the festival doesn’t even mention them, nor some other very good products that show the best of Amsterdam.
On the 3rd floor, there was a mixture of concrete stuff like lamps, jewelry and a spectacular artist in velvet (Velvet Matters), her work is really worth a visit! However a big part of the floor was empty and there were also objects like this one on the left – again no one around, no explanation or anything. Why, what, how??
The idea of an Amsterdam Maker Festival is great, I heard many positive reactions on that. For a next version, there is some work to do. For example, what is Amsterdam Made > does it really include Leiden, Nijmegen and the like? The festival seems to expand Amsterdam not just with a small circle but by conquering all of our country. And who exactly is the public for this festival: kids, grownups, nerds, general public, people who come to buy something, or people interested in some kind of experience (and then: what experience)? And last but not least: the website of the Amsterdam Maker Festival that is not very accessible for general public and does not mention half of the things general public would be interested in (like finding back the special peanut butter whose name I did not write down when I was on the spot). Amsterdam is a great brand that inspires many people. I really hope this will be continued!
Today a new book about Dutch entrepreneurs was presented at the headquarters of Dutch employers, the Malietoren in the Hague. It was a pleasant venue, as you can see in the picture. A big text shows that investing in women gives a real good ROI (return on investment). I know that plans for this action were discussed during the trade mission to Turkey last November (see my other blogs http://grethevangeffen.nl/?m=201211) so it was great to see the outcome!
However, the presentation was only about male entrepreneurs in the period 1850 – 1950 in Holland (the west of the Netherlands); great entrepreneurs that made our country to what it is now. Most entrepreneurs combined their business with social involvement. The chair of VNO-NCW, Bernard Wientjes, explained that this has always been usual in Dutch business. The last 30 years brought an approach too uniquely focussed on shareholder value, but we are regrouping from the problems that brought and heading toward sustainable solutions.
The Van Oord family explained how they run their marine ingenuity business (see http://www.vanoord.com/) as an entire family business: that was so interesting. Family business means that long term vision is included in every step the business takes. We got a story here how a small business starting with a single entrepreneur can be developped into something worldwide and top of the bill by a large number of 3rd, 4th and 5th generation members. I loved it!
Present were not so much people like me who have a 1st generation business; most of them were 2nd and 3rd generation, but there was also a 5th generation guy present 🙂 It is a great advantage that so many entrepreneurs paved the path, and we can learn from them and be inspired: thanks for that! Please find the book (series) at http://www.walburgpers.nl/site/content.php?hfst_id=127&hfst_id_parent=7&PHPSESSID=f843f8a4351b6186fbb5..
Talent to the Top, a Dutch organisation for a better gender balance at the top levels of organisations (see www.talentnaardetop.nl), invited many top women to a breakfast meeting at 8 March, Women’s Day 2013. So I think we were more than 100 women in The Grant hotel in Amsterdam center, in a beautifull hall that was both large and cosy for our meeting.
Particularly impressive was the interview with Ms Sri Mulyani Indrawati, the director of the World Bank. She is a real example in her inspiration to create a better world. I liked the moment when the chair of the meeting asked her what she saw as the best investment in her career and she asked: “Do you mean for myself or for society?”.“For yourself, of course”, the chair asked but I think Ms Sri Mulyani Indrawati is in a top position of the World Bank because she has a broader, deeper approach. We can all learn from her! As her own role model, she mentioned her mother who had 10 children and still finished her Phd…
Thanks Talent to the Top for organizing this. There is a lot of work to be done, in all countries. The ambassador of Indonesia was present and she said that poverty and gender are the most difficult issues to tackle for countries worldwide. And she noticed that they are not one-to-one related: the Netherlands are much richer than Indonesia, but they are still struggling with gender problems. Reducing poverty will not automatically mean equal opportunities or equal rights for men and women. Work to do! When the 8 March breakfast was over, I felt full of motivation to go for it 🙂
High gifted people who work freelance are much happier in their work than high gifted people who work in a company, actual Dutch research results reveal (see www.koosvanderspek.nl). In general, high gifted workers are positive about the work they do, they have a good work-life balance and not too much stress. However, when it comes to passion, HIQ’s who work independently are much more passionate than the average Dutch worker and HIQ’s who work in companies are clearly less passionate than the average Dutch worker. This is a big contrast.
Mensa members are not really surprised about this outcome. We knew this already and what we like is that there is now scientific evidence for it! 1250 HIQ’s cooperated for this research, 80+% of them being Mensans as Mensa the Netherlands supported this research of the University of Utrecht.
Another outcome: 37% of HIQ’s in companies are bored and lack challenge; this is again much more than average Dutch workers. So there is a lot of neglected potential in companies, even in times of crisis where companies absolutely need all available talents to survive and if possible innovate. HIQ’s are innovators. So most probably these research results (that are the first part of much more results to follow) indicate that Dutch companies are not good enough and not fast enough in innovation – yet. HIQ will be discovered in the near future as an excellent source of that, I am sure!
Yesterday was the closing session of 400 years diplomatic relationships between Turkey and the Netherlands. The townhall of Rotterdam was beautifully decorated and hundreds of people had arrived for this event where according to my information the Turkish vice-prime minister Ali Babacan would be present. My invitation did not talk about the presence of Princess Máxima, maybe deliberately not mentioned but she was there too (try to find her in the photograph while holding her speech – it was very busy as you can see). Both Mr. Babacan and Princess Máxima helt friendly speeches, confirming the warm bonds our countries have.
Indeed the celebration year was a success, many contacts have been made (again) both between officials and business people. Mr. Aboutaleb, the mayor of Rotterdam, opened the speeches and showed great involvement with the relationships which – I know from my Turkish contacts – he also does at personal and business level in daily mayor life. As a citizen of Amsterdam, I found it a bit painful to see the mayor of Amsterdam Mr. van der Laan arrive one hour late. But he works very hard too for our city so he must have his reasons.
It was good to be there, to enjoy the beauty of the spot, the event itself and to meet many good friends again, all somehow involved in Dutch and Turkish business so full of energy and dynamics.
Maybe it is because I have always worked with people with Turkish background in the Netherlands, that I assumed Dutch business people work easily with Turkish business people. Or is it the research that was done in peacekeeping missions of the army, where relationships between the Dutch, German and Turkish soldiers were studied? Unexpectantly, it appeared that Dutch soldiers cooperate better with Turkish soldiers than with German soldiers, although the Germans are our neighbours, our largest trade partner and a country with whom DE-NL exchange at army level has been intense since many years. One of the reasons was that both the Dutch and the Turkish soldiers showed a practical orientation when confronted with problems during the peace mission, while the Germans were more rule oriented. Maybe I expected that to happen in business too…
Well, the trade mission to Turkey opened my eyes: it is not true and doing NL-TR business is not easy at all. The main reason for that is: culture. There are quite some cultural differences that prevent smooth NL-TR business relationships. I have spoken to both Dutch and Turkish entrepreneurs and heard many stories, also about huge des-investments because it really did not work out. On several occasions I heard Turkish businessmen describe the Dutch as: STUBborn, NOT flexible and ARROgant. This mainly refers to the style of doing business and daily work.
For example the Dutch are planners. Before doing the job, they plan it all the way, often in many details. The Turks are not planners, if they want to do the job, they start it. They will find out down the road what the consequences are and react immediately to difficult circumstances. This is very difficult for the Dutch. If they have to work the Turkish way, they meet with mistakes that in their eyes are unnecessary, could have been prevented. That is stressful for them. Also, Dutch workers are used to respond to difficulties by some reflection, to find out what went wrong in the planning phase. In the Turkish style this means that they are not flexible and too slow. And then when the Dutch start to explain to the Turks what planning is and how to PREVENT problems, the final perception is there: the Dutch are stubborn and arrogant!
The good news for me is that these kind of cultural issues form the expertise of my company: there’s a world out there for us! And we are looking forward to services in NL-TR culture and diversity issues …
By now I have given 2 workshops on culture and diversity for the management team of the Stephanos Foundation. Beforehand I was wondering whether it would be possible to be of any benefit, as my knowledge about Malawi and Africa in general seemed to be low. Wasn’t it a risk to be too western in my approach, far from ‘the way we do things here’ in Malawi? But after my 2 first workshops here I can say (with some relief) that it worked out very well, also in the context of Malawi.
The awareness about culture and diversity is much bigger here than average in Europe. Most of the management team has the Malawi nationality, but they come from different tribes and have team members from various backgrounds. In workshops in for example The Netherlands, participants sometimes feel compelled to discuss the notion of culture itself: does it really matter? Aren’t we all different so what’s the point? When this occurs, it is always a participant from the ‘dominant’ group and never a member of a minority group who brings up the discussion. There is little awareness of the very existence and influence of culture and diversity – regardless whether dominant individuals find it necessary or not…
Here in Malawi I meet with strong curiosity to learn more and know how it works and what a manager can do to make it work so that diverse talents are used for the job. Exercises from The Champagne Pool (see www.diversityshop.eu) passed without any problem: be it informal rules of the organisation, what is my culture or the five dimensions of culture from Hofstede – it all suited Malawi and Stephanos reality. Also the Makeda game gave a lot of food for thought.
The fact that the Makeda game bears the name of the Ethiopean Queen of Sheba however did not seem to interest anyone. People are very practical here and not too nationalistic. Does training material come from America, Europe, Asia or Africa? No point as long as it works in the local context. In terms of Hofstede, there is a low uncertainty avoidance (low on ‘what is different is dangerous’, difference did not scare these managers off). And there is a good sense of humour, which is always nice to have. This makes me look forward to the other 2 workshops to come.
It was a great eyeopener for many attendants in the room when professor Halleh Gorashi explained what influenced her career. Gorashi arrived in The Netherlands as a refugee many years ago and was often confronted with people focussed on what she could do less than others: for example her ability of the Dutch language is not the same level as a native speaker has. What really made the difference in her career was the fact that a professor – when she was still a teacher at university – focussed on her specific talents.
Do we see a person who is shortcoming or a person who has unique added value? Daily reality shows all too often, specifically for refugees, that the ‘shortcoming’ part is accentuated and the unique added value is passing unnoticed. What a waste of talent for our organisations and for our country!
Please watch the (Dutch spoken) movie UAF made about a meeting with employers (VNO-NCW) – you can also see me in an interview for a few seconds: http://www.uaf.nl/het_uaf_voor_u/werkgevers/bijeenkomst_fonds_100_jaar_vno-ncw_en_het_uaf
If you like, join the project ‘Sustainable and Diverse’ that our company Seba has with UAF, to employ refugees and create high-profile refugy-friendly organisations: let’s focus on talents together!
“During every match there are three minutes that really matter“, football icon Johan Cruijff said. I put this quote in my new book about diversity in the governance of public housing corporations. It relates directly to diversity competence at board level.
Diversity does not matter ‘all the time’. It is not about political correctness. It is about being open for it ánd recognizing it ánd the ability to make it work for the board and the organisation in the right moment: those three minutes that particularly matter! That is a specific competence that first of all chairs need, and then also other boardmembers.
Is diversity an issue for public housing corporations? The board members I interviewed in the book agreed on that, but they saw it in a different way. Some would put accent on the board dynamics and decision making process that are richer and more balanced in a diverse board. Others just comment on the fact that there are still few women, younger people or people with a minority background at board level, considered as less favourable for the public image of housing corporations and also less favourable for the necessary knowledge about customer needs, as the customers are much more diverse than the boards are.
The title of the book is ‘Kwaliteit staat op nummer één’, quality comes first. That is what people often say when talking about diversity, as if appointing ‘different’ people would mean bringing in less quality. Football icon Johan Cruijff said: “Quality comes first but quality must serve the entity as a whole“.
Buy my book at www.diversityshop.eu, www.bol.com, www.boekenroute.nl or in your local bookshop and read all about board principles, actuality in governance and diversity, practical cases and tools and so on… and please send me your feedback or other reactions, I will be happy to hear them!
In the first blog about commercial diversity managementI mentioned that quite some organisations tend to go back to ‘single characteristic’ diversity, summarized in customer feedback like: ‘we want a more specific approach, not just diversity’. This asks a lot from our conceptual patience… Another ‘after crisis trend’, merely found in large national government organisations, is the hope that we are now finally done with diversity. I was talking with a responsible person a short while ago and he was telling me this: ‘We are now doing inclusiveness. Nobody likes diversity any more, the word itself is unpopular. So we are now working on inclusion in the organisation‘.
When I hear this kind of wording, I am so surprised. It is difficult to understand that a highly educated professional does not see the contradiction in his words. Many companies all over the world work on ‘Diversity & Inclusion’, also called D&I: it is like a twin set, one can’t be there without the other and they strengthen each other.
So I asked the guy: ‘OK, so what exactly is it what your organisation wants to include?‘ He looked at me blankly, then started to explain that our government is supported by a political party that is against diversity, so no national government organisation can work on organisational diversity any more because it would be undemocratic to do so. Didn’t I understand that? But that was not my question, and I repeated it: ‘Ok I see but then what do you include?’ I then heard many words but no answer. It was clear what he didn’t want, but not clear what he did want…
Of course every organisation has its own responsabilities. If this is how a national government organisation wants to prepare for the future, so be it. In my company Seba we see that in most organisations diversity in one way or the other is still on the agenda. Although the crisis continues, most organisations expect a war for talent in the very near future and they see diversity as a future theme that might make the difference. We support those organisations. Commercial diversity management means that we go where the opportunities are.
However, as a Dutch citizen, I like my government organisations to be the best. The challenge they face for the future is enormous and they will need the best talents to perform. What a pity to do that in ‘inclusive’ organisations where diversity is taboo…