With the launch of Visma Sustynex earlier this year, we took our commitment to sustainability one step further. We don’t only want to become a more sustainable company, we want to help other organisations make progress in this area as well. But sustainability is not just about protecting the environment. It goes much further: it’s about living in a more equitable world. That’s why diversity and inclusion are so important.
In this article, we talk to several members of our Diversity & Inclusion committee to hear more about this topic and how Visma Connect is building an inclusive work environment. Read the conversation with Eline Eradus, Jacqueline Hendriks and Jan-Paul van der Velden below.
How do you define diversity and inclusion?
Vernā Myers, a famous diversity advocate, once said: “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.” For us diversity is a wide topic: it’s about ensuring everyone is welcome, regardless of their colour, education, gender, sexual orientation, or whether they are neurodiverse. Inclusion is about celebrating these differences.
Why focus on diversity and inclusion (D&I)?
Diversity and inclusion are important for “better business” and “better culture.” We want to work at a company where everyone can be themselves and feel safe. Teams perform better when we respect each other’s differences. At the same time, different opinions breed innovation. When your teammates feel free to speak their mind, and you have open and transparent communication, you can get more valuable feedback and ideas.
When did you decide to start a committee to drive these efforts?
We started this committee in 2020. We were inspired by Wenche Fredriksen, who is the Nordic Diversity & Inclusion Lead at Accenture. At Visma Connect, we can check all the boxes when it comes to diversity, but inclusion is more difficult to measure. Now, we have a committee of 9 people who track our progress and can drive awareness about these topics within the company.
Our overall goal as a committee is to build a workplace where you can give the best of yourself. We want to stand up for what’s right, and in the process, promote innovation and better results. This will help us succeed as a team and at an individual level.
Which steps are you taking to foster more diversity and inclusion?
We organise “all-hands” meetings for the entire organisation to present topics on a regular basis. At these meetings, some people prefer to speak Dutch; others prefer English. So, we started a real-time translation service for everyone to read along.
We also have the “digital coffee” moment. With everyone working remotely, you can’t bump into people at the old coffee corner. These quick chats would help us take a break and get to know each other better. So, we created a digital space for this using a platform called Wonder. Here, we can come together in smaller groups whenever we want. That way, we can talk to people we wouldn’t talk to otherwise.
We also host events and movie screenings that have a link with D&I. For example, for International Women’s Day and Autism Day. We share our experiences during these events and invite guest speakers. We already mentioned Wenche, who was greatly inspiring. We also invited a poet who writes about her experiences living as a person of colour in the Netherlands. We invite internal speakers as well, like one of our colleagues who is an autism ambassador. This opens the door for others to share their stories.
Our goal with these initiatives is to build a company culture where everyone is valued.
How do you measure progress in this area?
We measure engagement and inclusion once a month. We have an inclusion index of 68, which is a good start, and it’s improving. The index works like a Net Promoter Score. The survey includes these 4 statements for employees to rate the company on a scale of 1-10:
- People from all backgrounds are treated fairly at Visma
- If I experience serious misconduct at work, I’m confident Visma would take action to rectify the situation
- My leader cares about me as a person
- At work, my opinions are valued
Besides this quantitative aspect, we want to start organising qualitative interviews with new employees about how they experience their onboarding from a D&I stance. Based on this feedback, we can improve.
What is your dream for D&I at Visma Connect going forward?
When we started this committee, we wrote down all of our dreams and ambitions. Here’s a few of them:
- People at Visma Connect should feel safe to be who they are and should feel engaged
- We want our team to be fully aware of these topics
- Getting to a D&I index of 100