Michiel Mulder is Junior Manager Data & Reporting Advisory – and recruitment lead for his team. In this very diverse team, he and Mishita Saluja (Manager, Financial Risk) work together supporting financial institutions and corporate treasury functions with their reporting requirements. Both have experienced how diversity contributes more perspectives and improves holistic decision making.
Their own personal experience with inclusion at Deloitte is positive. Michiel: ‘I think I’m one of the most openly gay people in Risk, and I’ve never experienced any conscious or unconscious exclusion.’ Mishita adds, ‘I never felt I was treated differently or undervalued for being a woman, or of Asian descent. ‘
It took two years of hard work to achieve the impressive diversity numbers the team has now, Mishita explains. ‘ At the outset, we weren’t a very diverse team even in terms of gender. We had diversity of skillset but not of mindset. We also wanted every team member to feel they could identify with and belong to the team. So we decided to take some concrete measures to fix this. What you need is that initial push and strategy. You need leadership to identify a lack of diversity as an issue, take up that challenge and provide support.’
"What you need is that initial push and strategy. You need leadership to identify a lack of diversity as an issue, take up that challenge and provide support."
In 2017, Michiel took over the role of recruitment lead. ‘If I receive a resume from a candidate, I do see their nationality of course, but if the skill set is a good addition to our team, then it’s fine! So more people joined our team from across the world, including countries like Australia, South Africa, Romania, Russia. That took some getting used to.’
Mishita nods. ‘After a while, though, the momentum built, and it came much more naturally. We now have a balanced mix in terms of gender, culture, age, and educational level. The focus has shifted from creating diversity to maintaining a culture of inclusion. And the team take that up very easily.’
So what practical steps have been taken to speed up the diversification of the team? ‘We started by streamlining the whole recruitment process, from selecting candidates to their first few weeks on the job,’ says Michiel. ‘We’ve eliminated a lot of waiting time – a big problem for people applying from abroad.’
Mishita continues. ‘On their first day, newcomers are paired up with a buddy and coach. In fact, we have our own onboarding programme that involves regular touchpoints with newcomers and offers help with all the practical issues involved in moving to Amsterdam. Even before their starting date, they are put in touch with some of our expats to help them navigate the housing market. We also have inter-cultural communication training ’
Another initiative that was key to the team’s success was a recent recruitment trip to South Africa. ‘Six of us went to Johannesburg and Cape Town,’ Michiel explains. ‘We interviewed 35 candidates face to face, and ultimately hired six. It was great fun. And a great success, too, which could possibly lead to further trips in future in order to increase diversity.’
"People from different cultures contribute different qualities. If you bring that together, I think we can deliver a better service to our clients."
Diversity brings great benefits, Michiel feels. ‘People from different cultures contribute different qualities. If you bring that together, I think we can deliver a better service to our clients.’ Mishita agrees. ‘We complement each other’s personalities and thought processes, fill each other’s gaps, and learn from each other. By adding just a few more nationalities to your team you’re also tapping into so many more networks.’