“If we want to make a difference, everyone has to be at the table and be themselves.”
Read the Dutch article below.
Today is Diversity Day. And at KPN, too, the focus of the day is diversity and inclusion. After all, inclusivity is for all of us. Diversity is multifaceted. Within KPN, Marieke Snoep, Chief Business Market and member of KPN’s Board of Management, champions diversity and inclusion. In conversation with Marieke about her personal motivations, what it’s like to be a woman at the top and how women can make a difference.
What does Diversity Day mean to you?
“It is really good that we are reflecting on diversity together today. But it is a theme that I actively engage with all year round. For example, I am a member of the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands’ (SER) Top Women. This is a platform on which women executives in Dutch organizations are visible and thus fulfill a role model function. It gives me the opportunity to give diversity and inclusivity the necessary extra attention, both within and beyond KPN. If you want to make a difference, you have to make sure that everyone gets a chance to sit at the table and that they can be themselves. Think of colleagues with different cultural backgrounds, of different ages, people with an occupational disability, men and women… every perspective is important.”
What about the number of women at KPN?
“We are proud of the representation of our women members on the Supervisory Board (Catherine Guillouard, Claudia Zuiderwijk, Jolande Sap) and Board of Management, that’s Hilde Garssen and me. At the same time, there are also ambitious challenges in terms of creating a better balance between men and women within KPN. For example, we want more that 30% of senior management to be women by 2023. So, there’s a lot to do.”
If you want to make a difference, you have to make sure that everyone gets a chance to sit at the table and that they can be themselves. Think of colleagues with different cultural backgrounds, of different ages, people with an occupational disability, men and women… every perspective is important.
What is your contribution to getting more women into top positions within KPN?
“The Netherlands is diverse and our company should reflect that. All recruitment starts with looking at what a team needs in terms of skills and talents. I sometimes deliberately appoint women in places where men used to sit. By doing so, you break with the past. My advice to leaders is to look broadly when you hire someone. Don’t simply opt for a copy of yourself, but for an addition to the team. We also ensure that you can work anywhere, so that it’s possible to combine work with care responsibilities. That is something that also contributes indirectly to having more women at the top. With job vacancies, we usually assume a standard 32 – 40 hours. I would rather talk to someone about how he or she intends to deliver the required output.”
What is your experience of being a woman on the Board of Management?
“I am mainly focused on the content of my job. One of my personal motivations is that I want to make an impact with the things I do and in a Board of Management you also have the opportunities and resources to do that. I also think that, as women, Hilde and I also really bring something. The team is more diverse and the dialogue is different. Our male colleagues can testify to that too! What is important to me is that I can inspire other women to also take the lead or take a step up.”
How can women make the difference?
“Women are very capable of bringing a different perspective. By looking at things from all sides, from customer to society and colleagues. Women are also capable of leading with a human touch. I sometimes notice in situations that not everyone is comfortable with having a woman at the top. I have experienced situations where the conversation was not started with me and only my male colleague was spoken to. You try to make the conversation equal, but occasionally people don’t respond to this and then I think: ‘that’s a pity’ and then I just continue.”
Women are very capable of bringing a different perspective. By looking at things from all sides, from customer to society and colleagues.
What is it like to be a woman working in technology?
“As a woman, I have always felt in my element in the tech world, which is still a bit of a male stronghold. My father once told me: ‘You’re good at technology, go and do something with it.’ I want to convey this message to young women with a talent for and an interest in technology. Dare to take that step, because you can do it.”
Finally, do you have any advice for ambitious women?
“I think women can help each other more. Give each other a helping hand now and then. We also have a number of employee networks within KPN, including a special women’s network, Women@KPN. A space where women can inspire each other, learn from each other, and network, with the aim of empowerment, visibility, and achieving a better balance between men and women. Finally, I would like to say to all ambitious women: If you want to mean something for the world, then you only have one thing to do: you have to work on it. Stay yourself and, above all, stay a woman, and don’t let yourself be convinced to be something other than you are. Choose for your passion and just dare to do. And dare to step outside that comfort zone, because you can do it!”
If you want to mean something for the world, then you only have one thing to do: you have to work on it. Stay yourself and, above all, stay a woman, and don’t let yourself be convinced to be something other than you are.
About Marieke Snoep
Marieke Snoep is Chief Business Market and member of the Board of Management. She has been working at KPN since 1 February 2019. She has more than 25 years of strategic and commercial experience in the Dutch telecoms market. With KPN Business Market, she ensures that KPN is THE one-stop-shop for the large business market and for small- and medium-sized companies in the Netherlands in the area of secure, flexible, future-proof networks and collaboration in the cloud anyplace, anytime, and on any device. Marieke is a director of the KPN Mooiste Contact Fonds and an active member of SER Top Women.