Diversity not a priority for businesses in crisis times
During the previous economic crisis, many companies in the Netherlands discontinued their diversity programs. And the same seems to be happening now during the coronavirus crisis, Trouw reports after speaking to experts on this field.
Halleh Ghorashi, professor of diversity and integration and VU University Amsterdam, told Trouw that companies are quick to stop investing in diversity and inclusiveness if things aren't going well financially. "We saw that happen during the economic crisis in 2008," he said. "And that seems to be repeated during the corona crisis."
Union CNV also noticed this trend. "We see that companies are surviving, so if they can cut back on something to save the business, they will," chairman Piet Fortuin said to the newspaper. "Even if this is at the expense of diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace." According to him, this is likely linked to the fact that very few companies are hiring at the moment. "When companies recruit people, they are actively engaged in diversity. For example by looking for women or people with a diverse background. For many companies, when a staff stop occurs, diversity also stops."
According to Terence Guiamo of diversity network Agora Network, companies who just started their diversity policy are particularly sensitive to dropping it when things get tough. "Companies think they have to choose between profit and diversity. But it is precisely with a divers workforce that you can make more profit," he said to the newspaper. "You serve new target groups, expand your network and have many more perspectives, so that you can grow your company."
"If you are only diverse when things are going well, you will nog get there" Guiamo added. "You run the risk that target groups will not find you an attractive employer."
A recent survey by Berenschot showed that only 20 percent of Dutch businesses have an active diversity policy.