It's Diversity Day every day

Today is Diversity Day. The day when, in the Netherlands, we celebrate the power and richness of diversity in the workplace. In conversation with Ronald Nieuwenhuis, responsible for Inclusivity & Social Enterprise at KPN, about why diversity is so important, its different facets, and the challenges confronting us.

Why are diversity and inclusion so important?
“Of course, it is very nice that we give extra attention to this topic on a day like today. Because if you can really be yourself, then you are also the best version of yourself. And that ensures that you can contribute optimally to your work. Various studies have shown that diverse teams achieve better results and make more qualitative decisions. And innovation is also driven by diverse thinking and action. In addition to these arguments, at KPN we simply believe it is ‘the right thing’ to do! Every reason, then, for us to include diversity and inclusion in our CSR policy, making it part of our strategy and HR vision. As a company, we stand for a connected society where everyone – within or beyond KPN – is self-reliant and given opportunities to participate in this digital age, regardless of religion, orientation, gender, disabilities, socio-economic status, or other characteristics. And I am committed to that every day; so for me, every day is Diversity Day.” 

For me, every day is Diversity Day.

Ronald Nieuwenhuis, Inclusivity & Social Enterprise manager
Ronald Nieuwenhuis

In terms of diversity, gender diversity often comes to mind, is that a focus at KPN, too?
“Absolutely, gender diversity is an important part of our policy, it always has been. We are proud of the representation of our women members on the Supervisory Board (4 of 8) and Board of Management (2 of 6). So, at 50% and 33%, respectively, we comfortably meet the legal ingrowth quota and targets that took effect this year. At the same time, we also still have ambitious challenges in terms of a better gender balance within KPN. For example, we’re aiming for 25% women across the company by 2024 and we want more than 30% of senior management to be women by the end of 2023. Within HR and our networks P.O.W. (top women’s network) and Women@KPN, many initiatives are being developed for female empowerment and collective awareness. For instance, since this year, we have a training course for every woman returning from maternity leave so that they can quickly find the right balance between working and being a mother if required. We are now exploring how to offer a similar training for brand-new fathers as well!”

What are the other pillars of the diversity policy?
“Cultural diversity and, of course, the LHBTQIA+ community are two crucial elements of our policy. Our Kleurrijk KPN network is there for all people from multicultural backgrounds and colleagues who want to know more about the richness that diverse cultures bring. We have also included in the KPN collective labor agreement that colleagues can exchange a bank holiday for a festive day of their choice. In addition, from this year, there is the KPN-Internationals network, where we want to give our colleagues from abroad a warm welcome and, for example, pair them with a Dutch colleague as part of the Culture Coaching program. And at KPN, we have one of the oldest Pride communities, with hundreds of members who feel free to be themselves: KPN Pride. We actually measured this and 92% of the community feel safe to be open about their sexual orientation and/or identity. This network has existed for over 12 years and is considered one of the oldest Pride business networks in the Netherlands.”

 KPN stands for a connected society in which everyone within and beyond KPN is given opportunities. What is KPN doing for the outside world?
“Together, we bear responsibility for allowing everyone to participate in this society in which the internet plays a major role. We’re also committed to supporting people with a disadvantage in the labor market. Whether you are partially sighted or hard of hearing, have a physical disability or are otherwise at particular disadvantage in the labor market, everyone can make a valuable contribution. With our learn-work company, we train 20 people every year to MBO3 level, and next year, for the first time to MBO4 level. Since 2015, 130 candidates have participated in the program, 80% have passed and 50% have found suitable work within three months. We want to be there for everyone. Digital inclusion is becoming increasingly important. That’s why we’re also working on the accessibility of our products and services. Irrespective of age and/or disability, our goal is for you to be able to use KPN independently and enjoyably. Our online environments must be accessible to people with visual impairments, and we are conducting pilots to improve TV viewing for the hearing impaired. This is how we’re maximizing our commitment to a connected society!”

We’re maximizing our commitment to a connected society.

Ronald Nieuwenhuis, Inclusivity & Social Enterprise manager

Returning to Diversity Day, what is KPN doing on this day?
“This year’s theme is ‘Difference Enriches’ and at KPN we’ll spend two days reflecting on the benefits of differences. We’re organizing events at various locations for all colleagues, to give everyone the opportunity to immerse themselves in the issue, so that we can grow into a company in which everyone can be themselves. We have invited inspiring speakers, are preparing lunches from different world cuisines in our company restaurants, and have even planned a Brazilian musical parade through our office in Amsterdam. I myself am going to be inspired by Joris Luyendijk, eat delicious food, and attend the annual Rightbrains event where awards are presented to notable women in the digital sector. KPN has two nominees, I am proud to be able to attend”.

Finally, what would you like people to take away from today?
“Four years ago, diversity was a tense subject that people sometimes laughed about and didn’t understand why we needed to pay attention to it. Now, it is high on the agenda of leaders, and that is important. After all, it is an issue for all of us. But one for the long haul. It is a marathon not a sprint. That’s why I also think we should be more curious about and for each other, ask more questions and really embed inclusiveness in our daily behavior in all openness and vulnerability.”