Small Dutch businesses not handling abusive workplace behavior
Many small and medium-sized companies in the Netherlands still don’t have a confidential advisor for employees to turn to when they face transgressive behavior in the workplace. The national association of confidential advisors LVV thinks slightly more companies have assigned confidential advisors after recent scandals, but there has not been a huge increase, chairman Inge te Brake told AD.
A study from 2020, before the sexually transgressive behavior scandals at The Voice and with Marc Overmars at Ajax, showed that half of the companies did not have a confidential advisor. The LVV doesn’t have current figures, but Te Brake sees large organizations like banks and the government “doing well” in addressing this. She said that education and healthcare are also taking steps in the right direction. But she’s worried about the business world. “That is really lagging behind. I don’t mean the big players so much, but the small and medium-sized companies.”
In 2020, two-thirds of small companies with up to 9 people and 30 percent of medium-sized companies with up to 50 people did not have a confidential adviser. Larger companies with more than 50 employees did better, with only around 6 percent not having confidential advisers.
“There are still employers who ignore this subject because they do not consider it important. They value hard numbers. And if employees are bothered, they can leave; that is the attitude,” Te Brake said.
After the recent scandals about transgressive behaviors, employees are much more likely to approach a confidential advisor if they have or notice a problem. Gimd, a company that provides external confidential advisers to businesses, saw an increase of 82 percent in the number of employees who approached their advisers last year compared to the previous year.
Employers have a responsibility to create a safe workplace for their employees, and that includes providing someone they can turn to if they have problems, Te Brake said to the newspaper. The law obliging employers to put the safety of employees first dates from 1986. “Companies have had enough time to do something about it themselves. If they don’t want to, then it’s time to force them.”
GroenLinks agrees. The party submitted an initiative bill that obliges companies to appoint confidential advisers. The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament, will debate the bill on Thursday.