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NWO signs Declaration of Amsterdam during LGBTIQ+ conference ‘Differ(ent) kinds of energy’

Nicolette Ketelaar and Ana Solvelas da Silva (DIFFER) and Léon Ouwerkerk (CWI) about inclusivity

On 18 November 2021, the online LGBTIQ+ conference ‘Differ(ent) kinds of energy’ took place at NWO Institute DIFFER. The event was organised by Tech@Workplacepride in collaboration with NWO and NWO Institute DIFFER. At the end of the day, NWO Executive Board member Margot Weijnen signed the ‘Declaration of Amsterdam’ and with that, NWO commits itself to an inclusive corporate culture and the integration of LGBTIQ+* employees. Organisers Nicolette Ketelaar (P&O DIFFER), Ana Solvelas da Silva (PhD at DIFFER) and Léon Ouwerkerk (P&O CWI and LGBTI+ coordinator at NWO) talk about several aspects of inclusivity.
*LGBTIQ+: lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, intersex persons and questioning.

Declaration of Amsterdam: for an inclusive workplace

By signing the Declaration of Amsterdam, NWO wants to ensure a working environment in which everyone feels welcome, can be their authentic selves and can realise their full potential, individually and in teams. The declaration is an initiative of Workplace Pride (WPP). For the past ten years, this foundation has been campaigning to promote inclusive corporate cultures by raising awareness, monitoring progress, conducting research, providing training and building networks. NWO joined Workplace Pride several years ago and regularly organises events devoted to encouraging knowledge-sharing and networking among employees. Signing the declaration is a further step towards changing how we think and reversing existing patterns, structures and processes. The declaration includes financial agreements to reserve a budget per employee for inclusion, and agreements about internal measures and monitoring. The full news item can be found on the website of NWO-I. For more information, please see the Workplace Pride website.

LGBTIQ+ conference 'Differ(ent) kinds of energy'

Tech@Workplacepride annually organises an event in a different Dutch city. This year, the LGBTIQ+ conference ‘Differ(ent) kinds of energy’ was held on 18 November at the NWO Institute DIFFER in Eindhoven. The main theme was sustainability and the energy transition, and the importance of diversity in this mission. Leading scientists and people from industry gave lectures tailored for a lay audience about developments in the area of sustainability and energy, interspersed with stories about and reflections on diversity. Speakers came from both within and outside of the LGBTIQ+ community. You can find a report of the conference at the end of this article. You can also find a report about the event on the WPP website.

‘Embracing DIFFERENCE’: interview with Nicolette Ketelaar, Ana Solvelas da Silva and Léon Ouwerkerk about inclusivity

On behalf of the NWO institutes, the following people were involved in the organisation of the conference ‘Differ(ent) kinds of energy’ that was held on 18 November 2021: Léon Ouwerkerk (P&O CWI and LGBTIQ+ coordinator for NWO in its entirety), Nicolette Ketelaar (P&O, DIFFER) and Ana Solvelas da Silva (PhD at DIFFER). In the interview ‘Embracing DIFFERence’, they talk about several aspects of inclusivity: for example, what is inclusivity and how do they feel about the DIFFER initiatives to become inclusive? And is it true that the technology workplace lags behind in the area of inclusivity when compared to the rest of the academic world? You can read the interview on the DIFFER website.

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Recap of Workplace Pride

‘It’s a great shame that we cannot welcome you in person here today, but we are nevertheless happy that we are still able to hold this important event online.’ With these words, the Workplace Pride event was opened by Léon Ouwerkerk, LGBTIQ+ coordinator of NWO. Each year, the event is organised in a different Dutch city, and this time it was the turn of Eindhoven. The conference was transmitted live from NWO Institute DIFFER. During this meeting, the theme was inclusion of the LGBTIQ+ community, sustainability and the links between the two.

After the words of welcome from Léon Ouwerkerk and Bianca Nijhof, a variety of speakers took to the floor. Some of them presented their story from the studio and some from behind a screen at home. They spoke about fusion and renewable energy, diversification of our energy system and system integration. The subjects fitted seamlessly in the programme because the presentations also made clear that diversity is of importance in these matters. Without it, our modern lifestyle with technological needs cannot be optimally supported.

Personal stories
Personal stories were also shared. Two students from Eindhoven University of Technology, Ari Sibiescu and Ave Ottens (non-binary and transgender, respectively), explained the different forms of gender identity, gender expression and sexuality. They explained that a completely inclusive society is still a long way off for the LGBTIQ+ community. LGBTIQ+ students still experience a lot of inequality in, for example, healthcare and accommodation. For instance, Ari cannot participate in a team sport: ‘All team sports are played in men’s and women’s teams and as a non-binary person I do not fit into that.’ Ave talks about her struggles about dressing for formal meetings: ‘The more formal the event, the more male the clothing for women becomes. That is difficult if you do not feel comfortable wearing that.’ The students hope to increase awareness by sharing their experiences.

The afternoon was rounded off with a fine speech from Margot Weijnen, member of the NWO Executive Board. ‘More than fifty years ago, I went to a girls-only high school. When I started my studies at TU Delft, I suddenly realised what it was like to stand out in the crowd. I became part of a minority overnight, as fewer than five percent of the students were women. Since then, a lot has already improved in the area of gender equality but we’re not there yet. As an employer, we bear responsibility for a work field that is representative for society, and this is certainly not yet the case.’

Declaration of Amsterdam
To top it all off, Margot signed the Declaration of Amsterdam to underline the fact that NWO is committed to realising an inclusive organisation and equality in society. NWO wants to ensure that all employees feel at their ease at work. ‘Only then can everybody focus on their talent and on their objectives in science. And now it’s time for action!’

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