It’s almost International Women’s Day, and this year to build up to the release of our campaign we are taking an in-depth look at Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) practices from various companies. In this article we spoke to Marlon Ranson – van den Berg, Head of HR (NL) and Hanne Van de Broek, who works as L&D and Onboarding Responsible (BE) at Wortell. Continue reading to learn more about their principles.
Life at Wortell
Wortell’s mission is “We empower people”. They aim to do this with the help of technology. That is the reason why their 475 colleagues go to work with a smile every day. At Wortell, they provide people with the technology and skills required to be successful in their jobs — for example, by teaching users how to make video calls with Microsoft Teams, carrying out a team migration to the Azure cloud, or helping an IT manager transition to a management organization. These are all building blocks that bring Wortell one step closer to their goal.
Diversity and inclusion are of utmost importance at Wortell because their mission is to empower people. Marlon says that at Wortell, “we want to create a working environment where everyone feels welcome to be themselves. It is so important for us to give our people the space and freedom to bring their unique selves to the work floor. When they notice that they’re not only welcomed to do so but are actually respected and listened to, that’s when we can see people blossom and where we feel we can make the biggest difference in each employee’s experience. Judgment and prejudice only create barriers and limitations, which doesn’t benefit general cooperation within the company and could possibly harm our employees’ self-esteem.” At Wortell they think about diversity in all senses: age, culture, religion, education, experience, sexual preferences, physical and mental health and more. Marlon emphasises that at Wortell “our people are our company, and so our people are our biggest asset.”
Last year Wortell took their D&I plans to the next level by formalising a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) team. Their team meets monthly with the supervision of Dr Cara Antoine, a professional and leader in her field with many years of experience in policy shaping and inclusive technology design. The team itself consists of people from all different kinds of backgrounds and represents different parts and layers of the company. Therefore, this team consists of a trainer, consultant, manager and recruiter, in order to exemplify their company and society at large. In addition to these meetings, the team members also meet biweekly to implement their individual projects. Led by Hanne Van de Broek, their goal is to create awareness, conduct research, brainstorm ideas and develop proposals for the Board with the aim of integrating diversity, equality and inclusion throughout the entire Wortell organisation.
At Wortell, they recognise the difference between equality and equity. While equality means providing the same resources to everyone, equity recognises that each person has different circumstances. In order to achieve equality of outcome, you take every individual’s unique starting point and needs into consideration. This means providing customised support to each one of their employees to best cater to everyone’s different needs. Marlon mentions that “not every employee will notice every change. Perhaps they will only notice when the personal barriers of their colleagues are removed, and they see them performing better.”
The DEI team at Wortell actively works on various matters within the organisation. For example, they have extracted and examined core company insights on representation and growth regarding gender equality. Additionally, the team tries to stay on top of general tendencies and feedback from colleagues and tries to translate that information into functional policy propositions. This team was also responsible for critically evaluating the language that is used throughout the company. They worked on ensuring that all communication inside and out is transparent, considerate and inclusive.
On a lighter note, the team has also organised several social initiatives to promote DEI visibility across their company. For example, Pride Week was well represented with various blogs and videos discussing the topic. Every member of the DEI team wore a coloured t-shirt to make up all the colours of the rainbow, to promote visibility. On Diversity Day, (4th of October), the team prepared lunches from all around the globe, as one way to bring people together is through delicious food. Marlon comments that it was very popular among her colleagues and was a great opportunity to highlight the importance of diversity.
Follow Wortell’s steps
If your company is considering taking more steps towards creating a more diverse and equitable workplace, then Wortell has some advice for you. Marlon and Hanne urge other companies to make DEI a priority and not just a side thought. Putting DEI on the agenda for the Board is such an important first step. Having leaders in your company not only support but proactively preach the DEI message is crucial for it to really take root across the organisation. Also, it can be really insightful to determine the way of working for your DEI team and grow towards mature and structured cooperation. Are members taking on the work on top of their other daily responsibilities? Would it be more beneficial to appoint a designated DEI officer? “Whichever way you decide to tackle diversity and inclusion within your company, it’s good to keep in mind that often, changes you try to establish may be divisive and sensitive to a lot of feedback and criticism. Never give up hope though and keep pushing through. Diversity, equity and inclusion are essential and deserve all the attention you’re trying to create.”
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