‘Policies exist, attitudes have yet to follow’

| Meilani Halim

Having a gender policy is one thing, but having the attitude to have a more equal workforce is another. The ‘Is he or she?’ workshop at the DesignLab last Friday aimed to come up with solutions to solidify company policy on gender equality in the workspace.

Photo by: Rick Uilkema

The workshop was designed to stimulate interaction between students, professors, and corporate professionals to generate ideas on how to improve and implement the gender equality codes of the participating companies, like Rabobank, Thales and the UT itself.

No UT HR department

‘Each of these organizations have equality policies outlined. However, they have not been enough to maintain an equal and diverse workforce,’ explained Florian Kleinhoven, ATLAS student and co-host of the event. ‘Often, although the policies exist, attitudes have yet to follow. We invited the UT’s own HR department multiple times. As this workshop would have been useful to the department. But no one showed any interest in participating.’

On top of that, a third of the participants last Friday was male. Although the organizers expressed their appreciation for their contributions, they stated their disappointment at the lack of initiative from more men.

Solution: raise awareness

The participants concluded that the core of inequality problems faced by companies is that not enough women hold high-ranking positions, despite having the qualifications. They think it’s because these women are not aware of their eligibility due to existing gender perceptions.

Solutions to change these attitudes and raise awareness of the women’s competence included inclusivity workshops in schools, universities, and workplaces, as well as events in which the company informs applicants of the expertise they seek. The participants advised organizations to select applicants based on skills and competences, rather than study background, to generate a more inclusive talent pool from which they can hire. They also recommended companies to design the job position based on the needs of both the employer and the employee, in order to, for example, accommodate for those with a family and maximize their value within the organization.

Long term realization

‘Most of these solutions are future-oriented and thus will be realized in the long term,’ says Kleinhoven, ‘and realistically the results will not start to show until a while after the company representatives here today have retired. However, these companies showed a lot of interest in the proposals and were quite enthusiastic about bringing the advices back to their work floor and implementing them.’

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