On the 14th of December 2018, together with close to 200 people, I was invited to participate to the 2018 diversity label award ceremony for (employers in) the Brussels’ Region.
You can access
The theme of the “labels diversité 2018” was “Diversity, what’s in it for me?”
Participants joined one of the five workshops:
- Workshop 1: Intersectionality
- Workshop 2: Employer’s branding
- Workshop 3: Transgender
- Workshop 4: Origin, a challenge for Brussels?
- Workshop 5: The added-value of diversity
Take a guess. Which workshop did I take part in?
Keynote speaker 1: Soumia Malinbaum
Miss Malinbaum is the founder and chair of the association of French Diversity Managers and Business Development Director for Keyrus.
Unfortunately, I lost my notes about her speech. Therefore, I am not able to share the main elements from her message in this piece.
Keynote speaker 2: Jacques Spelkens
Mr Spelkens acts as the Head of CSR Benelux for Engie, leading their diversity policy for roughly twelve years now.
His duty is to promote diversity in their company worldwide.
Engie is an international company operating in 72 countries with 156000 employees and senior executives based in France.
At the beginning, decisions and orientations about the diversity targets were taken from Paris.
Then, while doing his road show in different countries, he realised that approach was not successful by not engaging with local and cultural realities.
Main points that I took away from his message:
- Individual level: We are all unique with our differences. In the context of a society or a company with the impact of digitalisation and globalisation,
- how can we act together in the pursuit of a common goal?
- How to deal with others who are not (y)our enemies?
- Society level: Globalisation gives the impression that all looks the same everywhere (the same stores in different geographies, etc).
- In the 90s, it was about cooperation.
- From 2010, it was about collaboration (with different stakeholders).
- Now, we are at the stage of co-creation. This requires to work with partners without stereotypes, prejudices to elaborate something new, in common.
- The rationale being that we want to develop a more inclusive society. We have to pay attention to all kinds of stereotypes.
Fifty years ago, it was about exclusivity. Twenty years ago, it was about integration and this is still the actual approach. Inclusion is the next phase to follow. We are at a time where companies, organisations need to reflect society at large. When companies do not reflect the communities they operate in, those disappear.
Ms Malinbaum touched on U.S. companies that did not grasp the changes in demographics, in business models as society was changing.
- Corporate level: Diversity matters because it is correlated to performance even though performance is difficult to measure.
- It is also not easy to put in place.
- It is not about a PR campaign.
- It can be difficult at times to get different generations in the workforce to work together.
Diversity management within Engie started fifteen years ago as part of the CSR programme.
Their slogan fifteen years ago was all about technology. In 2010, they changed it to “by people for people”. The main asset for a company is its human resources.
More and more young graduates ask us about our actions with regards to issues about society, the environment, good governance, ethics, etc. All these subjects were not so much discussed in big companies.
Diversity contributes to the wellbeing in the workplace. It provides a commercial edge for example for a company with an international footprint. Also if a company has employees able to speak multiple languages.
Last but not least, having a diversity strategy leads to winning contracts. One year ago, they were participating to a tender and negotiating a forty million contract with a company from Norway.
This company came here to audit Engie; one half day on the technical requirements but three half days on their actions on diversity, equal opportunities and CSR. This showed to managers that diversity is an important topic in order to win business.
In their strategic indicators (KPIs), they included metrics to measure diversity.
- For 2020, they have a target of 25% women representation in the company overall.
- Reminder, it is a technical, engineering company.
- They are coming from a 19% representation.
About the word ‘diversity‘: Jacques Spelkens does not like the word ‘diversity’ (he is not the only one) as diversity has something negative to it. He prefers the word ‘otherness‘.
Otherness is about finding in the other person what is lacking in you in order to build something that is sustainable.
Access his slide deck here.
Workshop 4: Origin, a challenge for Brussels?
This workshop was animated by Ms Louise Carlier of the equal opportunity centre Unia.
She presented a few findings and statistics from the socioeconomic monitoring on origin. You can access a previous piece that I posted about this monitoring here.
The socioeconomic monitoring is the only tool (so far) in Belgium that provides information about the positions and participation of people in the job market based on their ethnic / migration origin.
In the next section, I will detail some questions covered in this workshop:
- Which proportion of the population between 18 and 64 years old have a foreign origin in Brussels?
Belgians of origin are 23% in Brussels (+/- 176000) and 72% have a foreign origin (+/- 553000).
In this last group,
- 40% have a foreign nationality,
- 17% were granted the Belgian nationality
- and 19% are from the second generation.
So, Brussels has a particular profile compared to the other two regions. Brussels is a multicultural and counts numerous diverse origins. Thus, the title of the workshop.
- Which foreign origin counts the biggest proportion of the population in Brussels?
- For each origin, does having a higher qualification level result in higher employment rate?
It is true that graduates from higher qualification levels have higher employment rates. But it not true for all origins. Graduates of Belgian origin with higher degrees obtain the best employment rate with 80% versus for instance roughly 60% of the population with higher degrees from other Western European origins.
For your information, below are the other questions covered during the workshop:
- Are employment rates the same by gender?
- In which joint industrial committees are people of Belgian origin the most represented?
- People who were granted the Asylum status are not working? True or false?
Here is her slide deck.
In your company, diversity is _______________ ?
In case you would like to share your perspective or initiatives about diversity audit and strategy, feel welcome to add a comment, send me a private message or shall we have a call?
“The bottom line of the socioeconomic monitoring is that university degrees or higher educational performances are not conducive to better opportunities on the job market for people with foreign origins.”
Embrace vulnerability with dialogue on racial discrimination!
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 “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?