Tue, Jun 4 2024

More diversity is a matter of hard(er) work

By: Maurice Jongmans, CEO at Online Payment Platform

We are already heading towards the end of June, traditionally Pride month worldwide. A period that brings new insights every year and is therefore very relevant. During the various events I attended in that context, it was good to notice that organisations are increasingly involved in Pride and are also very motivated to work on more diversity and inclusiveness. But despite the many ambitions and good intentions, I also conclude that we are far from there yet. If only because the term diversity is still interpreted too narrowly and good intentions are wonderful, but more is needed to really make strides.

As the DEI in European Tech Benchmark Report 2024 also shows, while organisations want to actively work on their diversity, they simply don’t know how. "We have a very diverse organisation. About 90 percent of our colleagues are women...". An answer I received recently in a round table discussion. While this is obviously precisely not diverse at all, it is a nice illustration of how diversity is often perceived. You also often see this reflected in targets for the number of women in the boardroom or in leadership positions. Here, it is clear that insufficient thought is given to what diversity is and what purpose it serves. This objective ignores the fact that by taking diversity seriously, your organisation is proven to become better and more successful in various areas.


Equal fitness does not exist

So becoming more diverse as an organisation requires much more than just looking at numbers. It starts with drafting the vacancy. Already then, consideration must be given to which diverse person would be best suited for the role. Which gender, character, background or culture could add the most value? You should also write the recruitment text and vacancy on that. Just look at your own vacancy texts, what kind of person would you attract with them? Furthermore, you should avoid the following common mistake in the selection process: in case of equal suitability, we go for the woman or the more diverse person. This is because there is never equal suitability. The more diverse person contributes more anyway. Just think of the insights you gain from new opinions from a different angle.


Stay realistic

Of course, this does not mean that you have to go for the most diverse person haphazardly. It may also be the case that you simply have to search longer and try harder to find someone who fits the profile. This takes time and attention, and therefore certainly does not happen automatically. It could also be that, in case of unequal suitability, you still opt for a middle-aged man when this is not the most ideal choice for the diverse composition of the team. However, you also have to remain realistic. For instance, it may not be realistic to aim for a 50/50 male-female ratio in a team of software developers. That is an almost unachievable goal when you consider how many female developers there are at all.

Creating a more diverse organisation requires a lot of thinking, a clear strategy and also patience. Given the time and effort it takes, you really need to give it a heavy importance. After all, people tend to look for colleagues similar to themselves anyway. You don't break that overnight. You also see it clearly in startups: when setting up the organisation, there is a small core team of like-minded people, sometimes even from the same education. This works easily and helps with quick decision-making. However, as these companies grow, you do see a focus on diversity, simply because it delivers value and contributes to growth.

Although there is still much work to be done, I am hopeful. Awareness is growing and with it the willingness to take concrete steps. The "Pride month" is almost over, but fortunately many different Pride events are taking place throughout the summer to perpetuate the message. I wish you a colourful summer and ditto business!


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