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Colourful Staff Action Plan

The diversity among our staff lags behind our diversity among our students. To close this gap, VU Amsterdam set up the Colourful Staff Action Plan to support underrepresented groups, create equal opportunities and equal rights and look with a critical eye at exclusion mechanisms at VU Amsterdam.

VU Amsterdam has one of the most culturally diverse student populations of the Netherlands. However, the cultural diversity among staff lags far behind. This gap implies that managerial positions pay less attention to valuable perspectives and that students who are migrants of a child of migrant have less role models at VU Amsterdam. Additionally, it seems that the university does not yet recognize and acknowledge all talent.

To have the cultural diversity among our staff reflect the cultural diversity among our students and to show appreciation for all talent at VU Amsterdam, the DO developed the Colourful Staff Action Plan. This plan aims to increase the cultural diversity of our staff in all layers of the organisation. We do this by focusing on the recruitment process, the working environment and the recognition process of staff members who are migrants or a child of migrants.

Download the Colourful Staff Action Plan here.

Inclusive recruiting

  • The goal of inclusive recruitment

    Every service department and faculty can increase the cultural diversity within their team by recruiting inclusively. The inclusive recruitment process of the Colourful Staff Action Plan consists of 6 steps.

    To successfully carry out each step, you can call upon a critical friend. A critical friend is an external member of the selection committee who functions as support and expert during the recruitment process.

    Do you want to involve a critical friend or do you want to be involved in recruitment processes as a critical friend? Please contact our Diversity Officer HR.

  • Step 1: Personnel planning

    What the current composition team regarding the cultural diversity as well as the competencies and characteristics?

    The goal is to put together a team with a range of competences and characteristics and with a cultural diversity that reflects the cultural diversity of the student population.

  • Step 2: Selection committee

    Is your selection committee open to candidates who are migrants or children of migrants?

    Ensure that the committee itself is culturally diverse, that each member is aware of their bias in selection criteria and evaluation criteria and that members ask candidates in-depth questions.

  • Step 3: Vacancies

    How do you encourage candidates who are migrants or a child of migrants to apply for a job?

    Firstly, explicitly mention the priority area ‘diverse’ of VU Amsterdam. Secondly, invite candidates who are migrants of a child of migrants to apply. Thirdly, keep in mind that some elements, such as the layout of the text and choice of works, may attract more or less candidates. Finally, recruit candidates by employing recruitment bureaus and utilize various channels.

  • Step 4: Selection of job application letters

    How do you strengthen the team?

    Invite the candidates whose cultural diversity and individual qualities form an addition to the team. When comparing candidates, keep in mind how this process is influenced by familiarity with the candidates and self-affirming mechanisms of what ‘an addition’ is.

  • Step 5: Job interviews

    How do you create space for the individuality of the candidates?

    Firstly, employ a process supervisor, use a structured questionnaire and ask in-depth questions. Secondly, give candidates the opportunity to meet with members of the selection committee who are migrants or a child of migrants, to allow for a connection. Finally, include the individuality of the candidate in the assessment.

  • Step 6: Evaluation

    Was the recruitment process adequately inclusive and transparent?

    Examine whether the intended goal has been met, what the success factors are and where there’s room for improvement, and what the insights are of the members of the selection committee.

Inclusive working

  • Inclusive working at VU Amsterdam

    VU Amsterdam employs the Colourful Staff Action Plan to work towards an inclusive working environment that encompasses inclusive talent development, culturally sensitive leadership and team diversity.

    The working environment becomes more diverse when staff members, among whom managers, follow specific courses, explicitly take voices of underrepresented groups into consideration and discuss sensitive topics, for instance during Courageous Conversations. Courageous Conversations allow for a safe and open environment in which to discuss sensitive topics.

  • Working inclusively within teams at VU Amsterdam

    Service departments and faculties can take steps to increase the inclusivity within their team. Some examples are lunch meetings and network meetings, buddies for new staff members and satisfaction surveys that encourage managers to improve their inclusivity skills.

  • Working inclusively with colleagues

    When a team becomes more culturally diverse, the entire team adapt to this change. To swiftly change along with one another, you can contribute to an inclusive working environment for your (new) colleagues by:

    • showing an interest in your colleagues, especially if their cultural background differs from yours.
    • not assuming that your colleagues are familiar with the customs and habits of the organisation or the team.
    • keeping cultural and religious sensitivities in mind: create space to discuss differences and seek a middle course that works for everybody.
    • ensuring that the voice of underrepresented groups is heard during meetings and conferences. For instance, explicitly ask the opinion of people who are migrants of children of migrants.
    • being aware of your own discomforts and discussing these.

    Additionally, service departments, faculties and managers contribute to an inclusive working environment by setting a good example and by ensuring a safety net for when things don’t go as intended.

Inclusive rewarding

  • The goal of rewarding inclusively

    Rewarding inclusively focuses on keeping cultural diversity in mind when weighing potential talent, with promotions and defence ceremonies, with prizes and with generic acknowledgements.

    It is for that reason that we’re searching for variations on the ‘standard’ career path and emphasizing the various ways in which staff members can function and excel. We don’t only take the individual efforts into account, but also the way in which somebody contributes to a team or the organisation and bridges the gap between the university and society.

  • Rewarding inclusively within service departments and faculties

    Service departments and faculties can reward their talented staff members more inclusively in various ways. For instance, they can implement longer development processes for staff members to ensure a better fit for their talents. Another example is encouragement programmes that allow staff members to work more quickly towards a promotion.

    They can also critically analyse their internal processes. Are the criteria with which they assess their staff members truly inclusive? Is the focus on the yearly review on the professional development of staff members? By implementing new initiatives and altering internal processes, service departments and faculties will reward their staff members much more inclusively.

  • Inclusive leadership

    By paying more attention to inclusive leadership, we will equally reward and promote staff members who are migrants or children of migrants. To do so, managers have to increase their cultural awareness.

    Increase your cultural awareness and that of other managers by consciously looking at the talents and qualities of staff members who are migrants or a child of migrants. Additionally, include cultural awareness in leadership programmes and programmers for junior and medior positions to ensure that future leaders are properly prepared.

  • Inclusive promotions

    Positions with higher pay are less culturally diverse than positions with lower pay. The goal is to use promotions as a way in which higher-pay function groups slowly become as divers as the function group in which people started.

    To do so, we take a close look at the criteria for promotions. Who decides who gets a promotion? And how are they challenged to critically look at their blind spots? Which qualities of researchers are involved in cultural-sensitive leadership and carefully considering diversity when promoting managers?

    By doing so, we discover which talents we reward and encourage as well as the extent in which these talents are a characteristic of the culturally dominant group. We also prevent bias towards the dominant group when promoting staff members to higher-paid positions.

  • Inclusively rewarding academics

    To inclusively reward academics, we must critically analyse the criteria with which we judge academic achievements. How do publications in other languages than English taken into account? How are academic publications and other publications, such as lectures and podcasts, for a wider audience given weight?

Questions about the Colourful Staff Action Plan?

Then contact the DO or our Diversity Officer HR.

divers@vu.nl

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