Diversity biases and steps to facilitate understanding leading towards an inclusive workplace

Regularly when I am called by a call center of acompany doing research or trying to sell me a service, I am mostly addressed as Mrs.or Ms.It is an unconscious bias of many telephone operators, who assume that my voice is female, while I am a male. In our daily routines, we are confronted with many different diversity biases, when we communicate and interact with people. In our journey, understanding biases, there are 4 main biases, that hinder us in building a diverse and inclusive workplace and that easily can create misunderstanding, conflict or not obtaining and motivating the most talented people. 1. Unconscious bias Unconscious bias is implicit. It is unintended and subtle, based on unconscious thought. Typically unconscious bias happens involuntarily without any awareness or intentional control. 2. Affinity bias Affinity bias is the unconscious tendency to get along with others who are like us. It is easy to socialize and spend time with others who are not different. It requires more…

Five areas to invest for creating a diverse and inclusive workplace and why facilitation is key to enable change

If you do a google search and you type ‘Chief Executive Director’ and you click on photos, you will notice that 90 % of the photos are white males and 10 % white females. You will hardly notice people from another ethnic background. When I was watching the Tedtalk of Arwa Mahdawi, a consultant and expert on diversity and inclusion, I was touched by her story, that the streets in our big cities are changing into multiethnic and diverse places, while our board rooms of big companies are still predominantly white and male. Arwa Mahdawi is wondering ‘Why is the face of power still not changing?’ According to Arwa there are in the US more CEO’s leading big companies called John (17), than there are women being CEO (7).  Somehow, there are still a lot of unconscious biases, which need to be tackled, while the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace are outstanding. According to research; Racial diverse teams outperform non-diverse ones by 35 %Teams where men and women are equal earn 41…

Create awareness and value diversity and inclusion through facilitation

In an online discussion taking place at the E-learning course of Future Learn ‘Understanding Diversity and Inclusion’ I was expressing my concern on how difficult it was to build and sustain relationships with people who are very rich when it comes to sharing meals, going to expensive clubs and dressing up accordingly.  Somebody confronted me online with a question, check how is it for people who earn even less than you?  Ask them, how it is for them to keep relationships with you. This question was really an ‘eye-opener’.  Although I have worked in more than 25 countries, there are still untapped areas and things to learn about diversity and inclusion.
The simplest definition of diversity is difference.  Understanding diversity and inclusion embraces acceptance, respect and empathy. It means we understand, that each individual is unique and this is okay.  The exploration of differences and diversity happens best in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. This means understanding …

Learning and talent development and why facilitation and coaching are key at agile workplaces

Agile is an attitude and not a technique with boundaries. An attitude knows no boundaries. So you do not ask yourself 'can I use agile here?', but 'how do I behave agile in this situation?' or 'how agile can we be in this situation?'
Alister Cockburn, founder of the agile movement

Alister Cockburn calls himself a modern-day bard. He travels from continent to continent, to tell and share his stories of companies and organizations he visited.  According to Alister Cockburn, the key of agile is learning from each other and it is important that this process is facilitated by doing and reflection. Learning is actually a key by-product of a process, when you are producing a product or service for a client.  According to Alister Cockburn ‘Servant leader’ in this aspect is an outdated terminology. In an agile working environment Alister Cockburn is talking about the ‘Hosted leader’, somebody who is accepted by others.   Watch this video interview with Alister Cockburn

Scrum, an effective way of working in an agile working environment for both profit and non-profit organisations

Scrum is a framework for developing and sustaining complex products. The method has been developed in the early 1990s by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland. Historically Scrum has most been used for complex products, such as software, hardware,  internet applications, technical devices, electronics, schools, managing the operation of organisations and other projects with complex issues.  Read more background material about Scrum at

Definition of Scrum
Scrum is a framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.
Scrum is one of the techniques, that is applied in an agile working environment. According to the Agile Manifest, Scrum is most effective when;

People and their mutual interaction are preferred  above processes and tools;Working results are preferred above comprehensive documentation;Partnership with the client is preferred above contract negotiations;…

Talent development and diversity as crucial factors for being successful in an agile environment

Within organizations, the responsibility for talent development is increasingly shifting from the HR department to managers. To date, the HR department had an important task in the field of talent development. She focused on the recruitment and development of talented people. These were often promising highly educated young people. Due to shrinking HR departments, managers are increasingly responsible for talent development. They are expected to take care of the talent development of their employees themselves. The expectation is that they not only focus on the high potentials, but that they also focus on developing the talents of all their employees.

Recently, I conducted a workshop on talent and diversity for a big enginering company, on how talent and diversity can be promoted and further developed in multi-displinary teams in an agile working environment. During the workshop each participant defined their talents and also received feedback, where colleagues observed hidden talents.…

Win – Win of diversity – Make the workplace more inclusive and utilize the talents of people

In December 2018, Saskia Ivens and I (Simon Koolwijk) conducted a workshop about the win-win of diversity and inclusion at the workplace by applying participatory video. The workshop organised by Agile on the Fly, at Capgemini, discussed the challenges and opportunities of agile working at an agile work place. Participants did some creative video interviews during our workshop, which gained some useful insight about the challenges, opportunities and way forward on how to work on diversity and inclusion.

Challenges: Tight deadlines and high performance demands and limited time make it for many companies with an agile workplace a challenge to get to know each other and understand each other’s differences. Understanding each other with having different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, different mother tongues, different terminologies and different perceptions make it a great challenge on how to transfer consumer demands into a service or product in a diverse team. 

Another challenge is tha…