It is time to step up for inclusion. To show the world that we complement each other by being different. Together we are stronger and better. We can learn from each other and that is why five Deloitte colleagues are sharing their personal story about Diversity & Inclusion. Jelle van de Wall (28), Technology Strategy & Transformation at Deloitte Consulting, talks about the important role of corporates on the road to inclusion.
"Two years ago, a Deloitte event gave me the last push to come out. Months, maybe even years, I doubted when to tell others what I was struggling with. At the event about 'Diversity & Inclusion' Deloitte partner Leon Pieters took the stage to share his story about homosexuality in a room with more than a thousand colleagues. He gave the perfect example of vulnerable leadership and it made a big impression on me. That same evening I informed a few of my friends. A great relief, because what seemed something very big to me, turned out to be just a small fact for others".
"What seemed something very big to me, turned out to be just a small fact for others."
According to Jelle, sharing recognizable stories is very important. "Diversity is a matter of making a choice to reflect society. The amount of research that shows how valuable diversity is for a company, is countless. Different genders, different backgrounds and different perspectives lead to more creativity and innovation. But a diverse company is not necessarily inclusive. In order to be inclusive, you have to work together. For inclusion, everyone has to be willing and able to empathize with each other, be genuinely interested and listen to each other. Be open to telling and hearing different stories.”
Inclusion is not something to be forced upon. "It's much more effective and fun to create an understanding in a casual way. My brother works at Deloitte Risk Advisory and recently a few colleagues participated in Ramadan for a day. They fasted from sunrise to sunset and Deloitte paid and delivered the iftar, the traditional evening meal. That evening they had dinner together via video calling and shared their experiences with their Islamic colleagues. To me, this is a fantastic way to strive for inclusion.”
Inclusion cannot be achieved from above and by a small group, Jelle continues. "We'll have to do it together. In Western countries, the pressure for companies to be diverse and inclusive is being further intensified. For instance, the Generation Z talents will storm the labour market in the coming years and are fanatically committed to positive changes in the world. They also expect their employers to play a greater political role in this social debate. In African and Asian countries, the role of large companies is even more important. Recently we had a global PRIDE call with GLOBE, the Deloitte network for people who have an affinity with LGBT+, with no less than 500 participants. Very impressive and it then became even clearer to me how difficult the political climate is in many countries today. Even there, Deloitte tries to create a safe place for all employees as well as to stand for an inclusive society. As a large company, you can make a fist, look for cooperation and, in the long run, take countries along in progression".