Have you heard of the tool or study named ‘Be the change‘ by Agoria?
First of all, Agoria… Agoria is a federation of companies covering multiple industries such as IT, telecom, manufacturing, automotive, contracting and maintenance, etc.
Back to their tool. “Be the change” is about the impact of digitalisation, it invites all stakeholders (from political circles, citizens, industries, etc.) to reflect on the evolution of the Belgian labour market (all sectors, industries included) from 2016 through 2030. In this study, they are anticipating for instance the digital skills that would be needed for the future, the gap between supply and demand of skills, etc. You can access their tool here.
Future of work
In the media, one can read that technology will destroy a lot of jobs; “the robots are coming and they will take our job”. The main message with this “Be the change” campaign for Agoria, I feel, is to acknowledge that some jobs will disappear and also new jobs will be created.
So, one of the key consideration I take away from the conversation with a representative of Agoria is about the people who will lose their jobs.
Which new skills would or could they acquire?
How would they acquire these new skills? By going back to school, via online training, etc? And will they be willing to develop new skills?
Diversity is one the pillar that Agoria wants to work on.
Why? The business case around diversity! For Agoria, diversity adds value in terms of innovation, etc.
Diversity in Tech touches on gender; the fact that there is a lack of women in these industries in Belgium.
One of the main realisation they made is the mismatch between the supply and demand of skills in Belgium between the big companies (across multiple industries) and for example candidates with a foreign (non-EU) origin.
Companies talk about a ‘shortage of talent’. What seems to be happening is that these big companies are struggling to recruit talent from non-EU origin and these talents do not apply to vacancies in Agoria’s member companies.
As a side note, Belgium has one the worst score in the EU with regards to the labour market inclusion of talents with a migrant background. In this piece from 2014 “Non-EU citizens twice as likely to be unemployed”, you will have more insights from the publication by Eurostat and Belgium’s ranking.
So, with regards to origin, one of the main challenges is tackling the glass ceiling or the mismatch between corporate Belgium and talents in Brussels.
Now, Agoria needs to promote an agenda on how to tackle this, if not done yet.
In order to bridge that gap, two organisations were mentioned: ‘Molengeek’ and ‘A seat at the table’.
An open dialogue
I went to this meeting with an open mind. My goal was to learn from and get the perspective of Agoria to the question
“what is the state of inclusion and diversity in corporate Brussels?”
I enjoyed an open, honest, nice dialogue.
We also talked about prejudices, racial stereotypes, unconscious bias that may play a role for instance in the recruitment process and contributing to the mismatch.
Another point that I took away was the little complexity that I was able to add to this complex conversation.
Quite often, policy makers in Brussels have (had) a focus on NEETs (young people Not in education, Employment or training) who represent the bulk of the young candidates facing high rates of unemployment. Typically, the young wo.man aged 16-18 years old who dropped out of school.
I centered the conversation on talents who are university graduates (from Belgian institutions), fluent in several languages, Belgian citizens of third and/or fourth migrant generation, also facing high unemployment rates even in the case of having the same diploma as university graduates of Belgian origin.
From previous talks with people in other institutions, I came to the realisation that sometimes it is hard for policy makers and business people (HR managers, CEO, Diversity Managers, etc.) to comprehend that they are for example Afro Belgians who are 40 or 50 years old today, who were born in Belgium / Brussels / Ixelles, Uccle, etc. or Antwerp for example and also fluent in Dutch for the record. They did not arrive yesterday via Lampedusa nor like me by plane nearly 30 years ago.
In this global marketplace, with this waste of talents in Belgium, I feel as if corporate Brussels and corporate Belgium do not understand that they are also losing talent who are deciding to take their skills to Luxembourg, Germany, the UK, Canada, the Middle-East, Africa, etc.
I was asked to share my perspective on the following question:
“According to you, what is or what are the reason(s) of the mismatch between corporate Brussels and candidates who are university graduates and from non-EU origin?”
Like already mentioned, an interesting, straightforward conversation.
In case you would like to share your perspective on this topic or discuss my answer to the question above, shall we have a call?
“Talent has no race”.
Grégory Luaba Déome
Contributing to more inclusive workplaces
More from me on Ethnostratification and Diversity Strategy:
Born in Congo, I am committed to developing more inclusive workplaces. My passion is to enable others to achieve their potential and to advance equity in corporate Brussels.
About eight years ago, a friend told me something like “in my company, they consider me as a high potential. I participated to the annual event of our industry, 500 people – la crème de la crème – and I was the only non-white in the room. A journalist even came to me and discreetly asked “what about upward mobility”? The problem is that in our industry, the majority of the workers at the bottom of the pyramid are non-whites. The higher you go in the hierarchy, the whiter it becomes.”
What is systematically happening in the mid-to-senior executive levels that you’re not reflecting the cultural diversity of the city that you’re in?