Why is D&I important?
NWO strives for excellent science that flourishes and has a maximum impact on Dutch society. One aspect of that is encouraging an inclusive science culture with an eye for diversity in the broadest sense of the word. That means diversity in cultural, ethnic and/or religious background, gender, sexual orientation, capacity to work/health, and age. Diversity yields inspiration, creativity and innovation.
NWO-I endorses the added value of joint efforts made by people with different areas of expertise and diverse backgrounds and perspectives. An inclusive organisation makes maximum use of its employees’ various talents and capabilities and actively seeks to increase its diversity when recruiting new employees.
Michael Wise, director of NWO Institute SRON, is portfolio holder of the theme D&I at the NWO-I directors consultation (DO). He considers the plan to be a significant step forwards. Wise: "Diverse, inclusive teams produce creative solutions faster, but also offer the best environment to work in. The plans are a clear signal from NWO-I that we are committed to a diverse, inclusive and supportive work climate at our institutes. It also goes further than simply a philosophy and good intentions. With this concrete basic policy, we are harmonising the elaboration of this theme across our NWO-I institutes and communities".
The Implementation Plan describes how NWO-I, until 2027, will mainly focus on diversity in the areas of gender, LGBTI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexual and other forms), cultural and/or religious background and capacity to work/health. The development of an organization-wide Gender Equality Plan (GEP) and a leadership programme for women are part of the theme gender.
NWO-I proposes to establish a focus group for LGBTI+ and to make it possible to grant leave for colleagues who undergo a transition. More opportunities and possibilities for talented people with a migration background must ensure a greater cultural and religious diversity. NWO-I strives to realise a better learning and working plan for people with physical limitations, such as a visual or auditory impairment. Age and life phase are incorporated in the themes stated. Besides these specific plans within themes, a programme geared towards communication and behaviour must contribute to greater awareness among employees concerning prejudices, judgements and language use. Everything is aimed at ensuring that colleagues can ensure a more inclusive culture together.
Angeniet Gillissen, institute manager at NSCR until 1 November and coordinator D&I since 2020, explains that people are not always aware of the fact that they discriminate or offend other people. Gillissen: "In such cases, they do not intend to give offence, and they are genuinely shocked if you ask them how often white men aged over forty come to mind first when interesting tasks are assigned. Or how they respond to somebody with an accent. Do they have prejudices about homosexual men or women? When excursions are planned, are everybody’s needs taken into account?"
An integral plan
Jacqueline Mout is programme coordinator at the NWO-I office and portfolio holder D&I. Together with Gillissen, she focussed on writing the Implementation Plan. Both emphasise that it would not have been possible without the considerable commitment from the workgroup. Together with colleagues from different institutes and the office, the D&I workgroup examined where NWO-I could become more inclusive and diverse in practice. Mout is pleased with the Implementation Plan because it goes further than target figures and checklists, and concentrates on how inclusive culture can be achieved.
Mout: "It is an integral plan that explicitly focuses on behavioral change. It provides food for thought".
Gillissen states that the NWO-I organisation is ready for it: "People engage with the subject and I observe that everybody is very keen to do something with the theme. We have the momentum needed to jointly work on expanding D&I". Several very good candidates responded to the vacancy for project leader D&I. That is a good sign, thinks Gillissen. "It indicates that external professionals in this field can see that NWO-I is serious about taking D&I forward."
Mout says that D&I is a subject close to her heart but that it deserves a pioneer who is given the time that this role requires.
Gillissen is leaving her NWO Institute NSCR to continue her career at 'Veiligheidsregio Hollands Midden' (Safety Region Central Netherlands), where she will be responsible for P&O and Communication. In the new organisation, D&I will be one of her focus areas, too.
You can find more information about diversity and inclusion on the NWO-I website.
Would you like to know more about the Implementation Plan 2022-2027? Or would you like to receive a copy of the plan by email? Then please contact Melissa Vianen
Text: Anita van Stel
Newsletter Inside NWO-I, November/December 2022
You can find the archive of the newsletter Inside NWO-I on the NWO-I website.