Yesterday I chaired the ‘bridge to the top’ meeting organised by and at De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek lawyers in cooperation with the Council for the Judiciary and the Public Prosecution Service. 200 visitors were present, both juridical professionals and a great diversity of students from different universities.
It is very good to see how succesful diversity initiatives can be. One of the reasons for success was the fact that not the cultural background of the visitors was in the center of everybody’s attention, but the career opportunities of the students. Some thought their cultural background would make it more difficult to get entrance into big, important organisations, others thought it would make no difference and others again saw it as an opportunity (‘we are cultural pioneers’).
During this meeting, mutual perceptions were tested and maybe changed, perceptions about:
- the car a judge would drive in
- the identity of students, professionals seeing them as ‘diverse’ while they see themselves as ‘normal’
- the uncertainty of ‘belonging’ (being part of the group and being valued) shared by all and not just by students or professionals who are ‘different’
- the identity of professionals, students finding out that prosecutors are not just ‘grey men doing a grey job’
The meeting matched students with professionals. During the coming months they will meet again on a one-to-one basis to learn more and maybe find common career paths in the future: ‘bridge to the top’ is a great initiative!