New Foreign Minister criticized for not hiring enough women
Minister Wopke Hoekstra of Foreign Affairs is facing criticism from some of his own officials for his hiring policy. Top jobs at the Ministry are going mainly to men and rarely to women, officials said in a letter to the top of the Ministry, NOS reports. The officials call for a "fundamental change" of policy in the letter, signed by 600 of the some 3,000 people working at the Ministry.
The criticism was sparked by the appointment of a new director-general for political affairs (DGPZ), a high position at the Ministry. This job, currently filled by Thijs van der Plas, was supposed to go to a woman. But the newly appointed Hoekstra opted for a man at the last moment. But the problem is much broader, the officials wrote in their letter. Important diplomatic positions are also held mainly by men. "During past rounds of placement, not a single woman was placed in one of the big posts like Ankara, Paris, or Madrid."
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs aims to have an equal number of women and men in top positions by 2025. Women currently occupy around 25 percent of the higher salary functions. "The question arises how it is possible that, despite all these years of 'positive' policies, so little concrete progress has been made. If we continue at this pace, we will not come close to the target of 50% by 2025. Something fundamentally has to change," the concerned officials wrote, according to the broadcaster.
According to the officials, the only way forward is a "culture change." Because there are many "ambitious, capable women who are willing to make sacrifices" within the Ministry. "They apply but are too often not selected by the departmental leadership and line managers. With equal suitability, the positions are still too often given to men."
The officials "urgently appealed" to the Ministry to take this matter seriously and get an external investigation into the problem.
In a written response, Secretary-General Paul Huijts of Foreign Affairs said that the Ministry's administrative council is aware that diversity is an often discussed topic at the Ministry and that there is a lot of unrest about it. According to him, the unrest is fueled by the general public debate coupled with recent and pending top appointments. "We understand very well that the overall picture does not come access well. It does not give the organization a good signal," he said, according to NOS.
Huijts said that there have been feelings at the Ministry for some time about the "lack of transparency and fair opportunities in the placement process." According to him, this is not only among women but also among bicultural and LGBTQI+ colleagues and people who think they are not in the right networks within the Ministry. The Ministry's top will discuss how to improve this soon, he said.