HR tooling can help organisations improve diversity and inclusiveness. Not an unnecessary luxury in a tight labour market, says Narada Bouwland of Nétive. “A monoculture can stand in the way of the growth of your organisation. But to what extent does this VMS provider also practice what you preach?  Juliette de Swarte of the Dutch contingent workforce platform Zipconomy interviewed the two gentleman about this subject.

Dutch VMS provider Netivé develops software to support all facets of recruiting, selecting, contracting and managing permanent and temporary employees. This software can also help organisations monitor inclusiveness and diversity in the recruitment process. After all, discrimination is not only a social problem, but can also become a business problem, argues Narada Bouwland, solution architect at Nétive.

In his own organisation, too, there is room for improvement in this respect. In a blog following Black Lives Matter, he shared his own reflections on and experiences with discrimination. “That opened my eyes”, says his director Patrick Tiessen, in this double interview. “We are definitely not perfect yet, but we have made a lot of changes in the organisation since then.”

Do you think there is discrimination in your field?

“Nobody says at the door: we only want white men between thirty and forty-five. But in the hiring process you often unconsciously look for someone who looks like you. That already starts with the job description. Subconsciously, you often ask for qualities that are more suited to men. In doing so, you are already underestimating the qualities that a woman can bring to your team. While in the organisation they think: we select objectively, because these are the requirements and whoever meets them can come. But your question is already biased.

Have you experienced discrimination yourself at organisations?

Narada: “I was often enough the applicant who had to work hard not to be perceived as ‘black’. Like the way I speak. I have consciously adapted that. When we talk on the phone you don’t know what my skin colour is.”

Isn’t that self-denial?

Narada: “Integration goes both ways, so I did not mind adapting in this area. But last year, during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations, the tone was: integration has failed. That narrative is too one-sided. We don’t live in a country where black people have to sit in the back of the bus, but subtly there is still a lot of racism. Precisely because I am one of the people here, I could use my blog to explain, from my perspective, what it is all about.”

Patrick: “That opened my eyes. Because even in our field there is still a lot of unconscious discrimination. We are certainly not perfect, but we have changed a lot in the organisation since then. With the Awards, you see that companies are consciously working on it and are taking steps. That is really necessary, otherwise nothing will change.

How do you approach it since then at Nétive?

Patrick: “Our recruiter Joanne screens candidates on core values. Then she gives me CVs without names or photos so that I can choose purely on the basis of competencies.”

Narada: “You can set up procedures for this. A four-eye principle, for example. I write a vacancy, a colleague reads it and screens for biases. If you also take these kinds of steps in the rest of your hiring process, for example by anonymising the candidates you are presented with, then that is already a second step towards creating a more level playing field.”

How does Nétive’s Tooling help improve diversity and inclusiveness?

Narada: “We can now provide all our customers with an overview of the diversity situation of their flex workers. Such as sex, ages, countries of origin. With that information you can see whether your organisation is a reflection of society, or what your ideal composition is. But also whether men and women are paid the same rates.”

Patrick: “For permanent employees this was already fairly well known, but for temporary work (freelancers, agency workers, interims) this information is new. This is because the hiring process is very fragmented. Everyone hires their own independent contractor or temporary worker. The overview is often lacking.”

Being a reflection of society is not always realistic right? Look at your field – IT. That is a male-dominated field.

Narada: “On Information Technology  courses, 90% of the staff are men. So a fifty-fifty male-female split in your organisation is difficult. But you can do something about it. Because even within that context, you can determine what your ideal situation looks like. And we can also help you with the steps you can take in the recruitment process to achieve this.

Finally, why should organisations get involved today?

Patrick:Ultimately, it is Nétive’s purpose to contribute to improving the workings of the labor market. An important task that we do not take lightly. Based on this idea, we believe that organisations, just like us, need to get started. That could lead to difficult conversations. In the field of recruitment and hiring, Nétive contributes by structurally reflecting and learning. We can help our customers do the same by, using the data from our VMS, to look critically at where things can be improved in the recruitment and selection of new (temporary) employees. Why not get started with it?”