Diversity brings prosperity to all

Report of the seminar 'Diversity, Equity & Inclusion' at Nyenrode

October 24 2022
Education

“More than a quarter of all employees across the Netherlands experience discrimination. Consequently, neither employees nor organisations flourish. You miss out on significant opportunities, and lose out socially and financially. Diversity brings prosperity to all.” This argument was presented by Ruben Brave, keynote speaker and serial tech entrepreneur on 4 October 2022 during the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion seminar at Nyenrode Business University.

This seminar took place as part of the National Diversity Day, and following on from the signing on 9 June of the Diversity Charter. Brave states the following; “there is a distinction between conscious and unconscious discrimination. To understand where our (un)conscious prejudice comes from we need to create the space to be able to reflect with an open mind. We also need to dare to acknowledge those prejudices to be able to change them. Seeking authentic connections with others and being genuinely curious can help.”  

Let’s change this game
The keynote speech was followed by a panel discussion featuring Nyenrode alumni Yesim Candan, columnist and thought leader at RTL Nieuws and Raisa Ghazi, international speaker on inclusive and ethical leadership. Candan noted “when I arrived on campus in 2000, I had a sense that I was out of place studying here. My immediate reaction was ‘let’s change this game!” She reflects now on a wonderful time at Nyenrode, and one that gave her the motivation and power to work to change prejudices at a national level.

 

Although Ghazi’s time at Nyenrode wasn’t always easy, she’s nonetheless happy to have studied within the Nyenrode community. For her, the places in which we grow up play a key role in our development. She is keen to contribute to positive change at Nyenrode and calls for a growth mindset. “See challenges as springboards for growth. Our prejudices are not set in stone, success is all about trying, failing, learning and trying again. A growth mindset helps you to be more inclusive. It helps you to openly question your prejudices, and indeed find ways to make a change.”

I want people to see me for who I am

The seminar closed with an interactive discussion with Nyenrode colleagues Nina Ponten and Naomi Vervaart, who shared their experiences from an LGBTQI+ standpoint, and with regard to living with a disability. Ponten was clear “it’s never too late to discover yourself again, nothing is fixed, and only once you get past prejudices can you really live in freedom!”

For Vervaart, inclusivity for her has everything to do with accessibilty, as so many places across the Netherlands, but also within Nyenrode, are not accessible to her. Until recently, the largest lecture theatre on the Nyenrode campus in Breukelen, the Pfizer Auditorium, was not wheelchair-accessible. “It’s also about accessibility of information. Does a company’s website mention anything about wheelchair accessibility? How easy is it for me to enter a building? Are there disabled parking spaces available?” Vervaart also spoke of how often people only saw her disability. “I want people to see me for who I am. I can’t stand, but I can stand up for myself, and there’s no way around that!”

Koen Becking, Rector Magnificus and chair of the Nyenrode Executive Board acknowledged the importance of the themes addressed, and the discussions taking place across the university, and steps have already been taken as a result of the Diversity Day. The Pfizer Auditorium is now accessible for those using wheelchairs, and communications colleagues are updating information across the Nyenrode website. Becking stated “as an organisation, we need more diversity in students, participants and employees. While this is important for our growth as an organisation, it is even more important because it helps us create a better and safer learning and working environment.”

 

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