Objectives, policies, measurement - the essence of a sustainable diversity strategy
Interview with Jolanda Sappelli, Director of Human Resources at a.s.r., a major Dutch insurance company based in Utrecht, Netherlands.
We strive to transform as an organisation from meeting legal quotas to incorporating inclusion into our DNA. This requires that diversity, equity and inclusion be secured in a sustainable manner in our behaviour and culture. We aim to have at least 30% representation for both women and men on both our Executive and Supervisory Boards, as well as at the middle and senior management level. The results of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policy are reported in the annual report to demonstrate our commitment to these objectives, as well as adding the issues of D&I in our corporate story and to our Leadership Education (LE) programme.
To other organisations, we would recommend the following actions to achieve (gender) diversity in decision making:
- · Set objectives and concrete measurement tools internally at the start
- · Write a diversity policy to keep diversity on the agenda continuously
· Organize dialogue sessions to create awareness among management and employees
· Pay attention to diversity in a leadership programme for managers
Several years ago, a.s.r. introduced a diversity policy that focused on gender diversity and those who have historically had less access to the labour market. This was in response to increased worldwide attention on diversity and the results of the organisational success survey (including Diversity & Inclusion) that a.s.r. conducts every year. In light of the growth of the Black Lives Matter Movement last year, the members of our board published several blogs about diversity and inclusivity which triggered a dialogue within our organisation and led to various initiatives such as dialogue sessions and ethics cafes. Recently, we also made some changes in our recruitment process. In order to avoid unconscious biases in the candidate selection process, external candidates applying to us can omit their date of birth, gender and place of birth from their CVs. We additionally created a supervisory recruitment board, with a diverse membership, that supervises the application process in its entirety.
We carry out an annual organisational success survey by Denison. In the Diversity & Inclusion module, we measure progress within the organisation against four pillars: perceptions of inclusion and respect, a working environment that is safe and free from discrimination, fair and equal access to opportunities, leadership that cares about diversity values. For the 2022 survey, we aim to be among the top 25% of companies participating with the aim of maintaining this ranking for the following two years at least.
As an organisation, we adhere to the Diversity Charter of Diversiteit in Bedrijf. By signing this charter, we demonstrate our commitment to our objectives of promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in our own workplace but also to contribute to a more inclusive society. One practical way we commit to this pledge is through our development programmes, where we offer employees the opportunity to further their knowledge in the field of diversity and inclusion. For example, there are training courses to gain insight into unconscious biases, ethics cafés to enter into dialogue about common workplace dilemmas, e-learning courses and the possibility of participating in dialogue sessions with a team.
We also work together with ‘Talent naar de top’, an organisation that is committed to utilising diversity in order to promote growth in business. Every year, we participate in the cross-mentoring programme by offering two of our own talented women the opportunity to further develop their management ambitions. In addition, two members of our Executive Board or Senior Management participate as mentors with the aim of helping increase female management positions. In order to continuously evaluate, reflect and improve, we organise internal and customer feedback groups as well as internal and external stakeholder sessions.
In the name of EWOB, thank you to Jolanda Sappelli for sharing her inspiring thoughts with us.
Congratulations, a.s.r, for scoring among top 10 out of STOXX 600 companies according to GDI 2020. It is an exceptional achievement!