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. Lisa Schaller (31), culture specialist at Deloitte Audit, tells about the importance of allies on the road to inclusion.
“When I moved here from northern Germany ten years ago, the Netherlands in my mind was the ideal example of a free country where anything is possible and everyone can be themselves. But the longer you live somewhere, the more you start to see the nuances. I live in Amsterdam and regularly hear astonishing stories from friends. A friend who got assaulted and is now afraid to cycle home alone at night. A friend who does not dare to kiss his boyfriend in public. People who think that cursing with ‘homo’ is not an insult. The Netherlands are liberal, but we are not there yet. And it is a change of culture we are going to have to build together.”
In her role a cultural specialist, Lisa naturally thinks about inclusion. "We are an international company with a diverse client portfolio. Inclusion and diversity, in nationalities and personalities, is therefore needed. But mostly, we want to be a company that hires and keeps the right people. People that bring out the best of themselves. Work is an important part of your life. That's why you have to be able to feel comfortable and be yourself. Within Audit there are not many people who widely express their affinity with LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender). Of course, that doesn't always have to be a theme. After all, I don't tell people that I am heterosexual every day. But that’s why it is important that we have the GLOBE-network, the initiative that connects LGBT+ members and allies within Deloitte".
According to Lisa, this connection is very important. "Personally, I don't think the term 'inclusion' is quite right. It still assumes that there is a dominant group that has to open up to people who are different. It's about creating a place where everyone can feel at home, where everyone is unique and where there is room for differences. In other words, it is about belonging. And belonging can only be achieved by uniting. By having role models who show themselves. By alliance. If you want to anchor something in the culture, you simply can't do it on your own. We need each other."
"Nothing worse than a colleague that is afraid to tell a personal story."
That's why Lisa developed the 'culture compass' with her colleagues at Audit. "Together we want to create a culture in which everyone is welcome, healthy and safe. And we want people to speak up and take a stand for what they believe. That is only possible if there is an alliance. If we listen to each other's stories without judgement. Nothing worse than a colleague that is afraid to tell a personal story. Speaking out takes courage. But the message must also be received. With the help of the culture compass, Audit employees in all parts of the country speak up for what unites us and we keep each other focused on our behaviour: how do I react to others? Am I an ally? Inclusion and diversity often focuses on minorities. But a work environment in which the LGBT+ community has no place would also feel toxic and unpleasant to me. An inclusive and diverse company is for everyone."