iPoort opens the debate on the need to steer towards DEI

Organizations are paying more and more attention to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Despite all positive intentions, the data shows that progress has been slow. We need to speed up our ideas and actions. In order to drive this acceleration, iPoort and Conclusion organized the debate ‘Data-driven DEI: navigating towards a diverse and inclusive organization’. Read a review of this highly inspiring afternoon below.  

Karen van der Zanden, iPoort CEO, opened the debate with the question: How can you make DEI measurable? Because, as she says, ‘if it matters, you measure it to manage it’.  

May 1st, 2023   |   News   |   By: Conclusion


Ipoort debate

Steering towards DEI at Conclusion: from focus group to strategy

Conclusion’s CEO Engbert Verkoren and Management Consultant Hakan Akdoğan talk to the attendees about the IT company’s DEI journey. Conclusion believes in the power of difference. For years, it has even been incorporated in the company slogans ‘What makes us different makes us unique’ and ‘Business done differently’. Nevertheless, they have only really started steering towards DEI more recently. Engbert broadly describes how he was chatting with his son Jan after a lecture by Joris Luyendijk five years ago, which got him thinking about diversity and inclusion in his company. However, it was the commotion surrounding the murder of George Floyd in 2020 that initiated the dialogue in earnest. A DEI focus group was set up. Now, Conclusion has a DEI strategy with a clear vision, mission, and ambitions for the long term.

DEI debate

What makes us different makes us unique. We need cohesion too.

Conclusion has the ambition to ensure that DEI becomes an integral part of its ecosystem of more than 25 expert companies. According to Hakan, they will not be waiting for regulations to do so: ‘Since we started some time later, we took the opportunity to see how others did it in order to gain traction. Privacy concerns are often raised when you want to measure DEI, but there is evidence to show that a lot can be made measurable within the rules of the GDPR.’ 

In order to make the DEI strategy a success, Conclusion has set out a clear course. For instance, DEI is required to become part of the business plans for 2024, for all companies in the ecosystem. The status of strategic choices will be monitored and adjustments made where necessary. The focus is on the involvement of the various target groups in the company. They help determine the strategy.

The Inclusion Marathon

Zoë Papaikonomou, co-author of the management book ‘The Inclusion Marathon’, takes us on an uncomfortable sprint through the world of diversity and inclusion, power and equity. In her book, she describes the status of equity and inequity in organizations through a series of interviews. She says: ‘It isn’t always a pleasant conversion to have, but it isn’t something to run away from.’ She praises the efforts made by Conclusion in this area, but also points out that everyone should create their own roadmap. The context of the organization is important.  
Zoë continues her story with her definitions of DEI:

  • Diversity is about differences between people.
  • Inclusion is about what you do with those differences.
  • Equity is about the power relationships associated with a difference.

She continues: ‘Is one difference more important than another? What does equity mean in your organization? This is something you need to think about. In addition to the legal obligation to create a discrimination-free working environment, it is also important to create a safe working environment.’

A question from the audience focuses on the shortage of staff in certain sectors, including IT. Does this not force organizations to look at talent differently? Zoë: ‘Absolutely! A lot of talent is still going unnoticed. Some people go further and say that there are no staff shortages at all, only discrimination.’  

The second half of her story talks about power. Power in the workplace has become a hot topic due to recent cases in the media. How do you deal with unacceptable behaviour by someone in a position of power? Zoë gives an example for each of the four different power relationships:

  • Power in the room: is it accessible to everyone?
  • Power in knowledge: the pool of talent with a post-secondary vocational education certificate is systematically underestimated.
  • Power in characteristics: extraverts determine the standard.
  • Power in society: the body you were born in.  

The most important lesson that Zoë tells us is to think about what power you have and share your power with others based on that knowledge. 

DEI knowledge lab

After the break, it was time for the round-table discussion. It was attended by Leo Euser from SER Diversiteit in Bedrijf (Diversity at Work), D&I coach Vivian Acquah, Member of the Lower House Queeny Rajkowski, Hakan Akdoğan from Conclusion, and Laura Cleofa from Morgens. Under the leadership of Saber Benjah, the day’s chair, the participants looked at possibilities for speeding up DEI. This raised a number of interesting points:

Make sure that inclusiveness and diversity are an integral part of the company strategy and that these objectives are achieved.
Take a critical look at how you currently deal with it. A second opinion may help.
Select the appropriate working method and acknowledge that DEI is a sensitive topic.
A good DEI policy is crucial for an organization in the long term.
Organizations measure all sorts of things quite extensively, apart from DEI. You need to break this trend.
First drum up support before diving deeper into the topic.
Privacy is not an impediment, but rather a tool for recording data correctly.
Use business intelligence to measure and monitor the effectiveness of interventions such as inclusivity training.
Create a team for DEI from all layers of the organization.
You cannot solve everything, but you can steer the organization in the right direction.
Gather data on the diversity of the workforce, and also on how employees experience inclusion.
Technology may help, but watch out for ‘garbage in, garbage out’.
Use artificial intelligence to screen job adverts for language use to ensure that recruitment efforts are inclusive.
Analyse HR processes to ensure that assessments are free from implicit prejudices.
Use business intelligence to analyse salaries to make sure there are no disparities based on gender or other traits.
Get all subcultures of the organization involved as a DEI engine for change.

In order to bring about real change in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), organizations must be willing to get the boardroom involved and to implement strategic changes. Some ways to do this include critically examining existing DEI policy measures, measuring DEI performance, and involving all layers of the organization in setting up or revising a DEI strategy. Organizations can use business intelligence and artificial intelligence to measure and improve progress in terms of DEI. By analysing data in HR processes, you can identify prejudices and make changes to ensure equal pay. In addition to data and strategy, a clear approach is also needed to implement change. Would you like to discuss this topic further and find out how your organization can work towards DEI strategically and effectively? Contact Hakan Akdoğan below.

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Hakan Akdoğan

Management Consultant DEI