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What is true diversity?

Diversity, equity and inclusion

Earlier this month, I attended a speed dating event organized by the SER in The Hague, smartly branded ‘Topvrouwen’ translated as ‘Topwomen’.

In my role as executive search consultant I spoke with twenty women at this event. Each for ten minutes.

I endorse the thought behind the ‘Topvrouwen’ initiative. Leadership teams consisting of only men, often very similar to each other, are not effective.

Organizations lead by a leadership team with at least a third women at the table, book significantly better results.

However, at the speed dating event, I found that there were too many women trying to look like each other or like the typical male version that we’ve seen for too many decades. No progress is made this way.

The big question is why the debate is only focused on gender diversity.

A lot has been published on gender diversity as such. For example, the Dutch TV documentary series ''The reference man’’, highlights the differences between men and women, in four episodes. Also, the article ‘'women in the workplace 2022’', that was published after periodic research, commences on this subject. Both worthy of your time, but neither one of them covers the entire subject of diversity within leadership teams.

Studies show that organizations putting serious effort into creating diversity in all dimensions, not only realise better financial results, but also score a lot higher on many other dimensions in the long run. Besides that, diversity improves the quality of decision-making, with multiple perspectives adding to the debate and further decision making. Diversity policy is also called DEI policy: diversion, equity, and inclusion. Diversity on many aspects such as, gender, age, ethnical background, sexual orientation, and neurodiversity to name a few. Equity should not be confused with equality. Equity means that everyone is equivalent in the sense that everyone is offered the same chances on developing themselves or working their way up. By inclusion we mean that everyone feels that they are being heard, that they can be themselves and that they can identify with the organization so they are motivated to add a valuable contribution. Research shows that organizations that pursue an honest and effective DEI policy, book a third better financial results than comparable organizations. They are also more capable of dealing with setbacks and surprises. You can read more on the subject in the article “what is diversity, equity and inclusion’’ of august 2022. We live in a volatile time. Surprises and challenges follow each other up in a fast pace. I wrote about this the past few months. Truly diverse organizations realize the success that contributes to sustainable results on many dimensions. That diversity starts with the leadership team. Take a second look at your leadership team and know you are welcome to exchange thoughts on this matter and elaborate further on how I can contribute. Yours sincerely, Aegeus


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