We make diversity work within organizations, including at the top

'My heart beats for making society more inclusive, and that naturally includes business.' Speaking is Somya Bouzaggou, a consultant with Vanderkruijs, partner in executive search. Since early 2022, Vanderkruijs has been part of Boer & Croon. A profile of this inspired professional.

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Somya is a consultant who works hard for diversity. She herself comes from a family with mixed cultures. The youngest of five siblings, she was the first to go to college. With the help of a mentor at ABN-Amro, combined with her discipline and perseverance, she was able to build a network. After working at EY, Unilever and Philips, she founded the Diversity Scan; a method to help HR managers make diversity and inclusion initiatives measurable. She now uses her accumulated knowledge and experience at Vanderkruijs. Here she assists clients with, among other things, the recruitment and selection of people with a bi-cultural background for top positions.

Improving Diversity

'Organizations are busy with initiatives to become more diverse. You can see that in some organizations there is sufficient diversity in the intake, but that it comes to a standstill in middle management. Then a lot of people leave. One of the reasons for this is the lack of a good network and sponsor. This is essential to grow and to ground unwritten rules within the organization. With my diversity scan, I start with a baseline measurement, after which I analyze what happens throughout employees' careers. I examine whether everyone's voice is heard equally and whether everyone feels valued. It is a good gauge of the level of diversity and inclusiveness within the organization. Based on this, I make recommendations for certain actions, such as a mentoring program or ways to better connect employees.'

Mirroring society

'Diversity is important for any organization. If you want to be successful, you have to be a good reflection of society. So there must be a good ratio of gender, bicultural backgrounds, neurodiversity and the other categories within the diversity spectrum. If you want to sell a service or product, you have to know your customers well. In a heterogeneous organization, this does not work as well and therefore you miss out on part of the market. Your business model is strengthened when people with different perspectives and cultural backgrounds work at your organization.'

Complex vraagstuk

'Diversity is a complex issue. You have to pay constant attention and keep turning all kinds of knobs to make it a success. You have to be aware of prejudices, which simply exist, and you have to make sure that they do not influence your decisions. More and more algorithms are being used, and it's important to be very careful that those biases don't creep into the algorithms. Just look at what happened at the Tax Administration with the benefits affair. Mortgage applications are increasingly automated. If you then live in a zip code area with low incomes and debt problems, you're screwed. Becoming more diverse at the top of organizations will help make strides with this issue. I am glad that I can contribute to this from my role at Vanderkruijs.'