When did you decide to go all the way for inclusion?
Diversity has become a buzzword. With me, there has always been a (first a small and then larger) voice that wanted to work towards a society where everyone feels accepted and valued for who they are and where everyone has the opportunities to develop in their own and full way. I prefer to speak of inclusion rather than diversity. During my time at the Centrale Raad voor het Bedrijfsleven (Central Council for Business) I noticed that I missed out on really working on change. My subsequent jobs are therefore entirely devoted to diversity and inclusion in society. I also work as a lecturer at Thomas More. Last semester I taught social psychology there. Again, I couldn't put my inclusive glasses aside.
By not only teaching theory,but also giving examples, I try to make my students aware of (important) social/psychological mechanisms.
Is diversity more than ancestry?
I can really answer that with a resounding ‘yes’. I think too many people too often approach diversity mostly from an ethnic or gender perspective. Diversity goes much further. It is about differences in terms of gender, culture, sexual orientation, religion, background, character, etc. As an organization, it is therefore important to pay attention not only to the visible differences (such as gender, ethnicity, age) but also to identify the invisible differences.
So what is the difference between diversity and inclusion?
Inclusion goes a step further than diversity. The term inclusion refers to how you deal with differences and similarities. By recognizing the uniqueness of each individual, by valuing each other, creating a place where each can be themselves and feel safe and respected. So inclusion means including everyone, both the majority groups and the so-called minority groups.
Diversity is a fact of life and working toward inclusion is an action to make it happen.
Are companies and institutions open to including inclusion in their communication strategy?
I think there is definitely an openness and awareness among companies and agencies. More and more companies are aware of the changing society and are considering how to respond to it. Whether they consider this a priority or not, that's another story. They are also often not yet aware of the approach needed to reach and authentically appeal to the various target groups. Does inclusion then mean reaching everyone?
No, that's where the mistake often arises. You have to see inclusive communication as a marketing approach in which you try to communicate within your target audience as inclusively (broadly) as possible. You don't and can never reach everyone. Some target audiences just aren't intended for a particular product or service. What is important, however, is not to exclude anyone who does belong to your target audience.
So with inclusive communication, as a brand you should try to also make room for voices that usually go unheard. This way, you can break through prejudice. By bringing thoughtful content, you as a brand can create positive social change.
Haven't we already taken a lot of steps in image building?
Authentically inclusive communication goes beyond image building. Yes, there needs to be more visibility of underrepresented target groups. But expressions in terms of language, for example, are also essential. We need to reflect on the use of images, words and concepts that are outdated or become less relevant in a super-diverse society.
And perhaps to conclude, what is your life goal?
My life goal? I don't have an absolute life goal. However, I will continue to work for impact and change. Impact for me has to be measurable and powerful. It is about both social and individual impact. Helping someone move forward, leading the way to a better future and hopefully helping to bring about structural positive changes.
 In the book “Schaarste” (Scarcity), Shafir and economist Sendhil Mullainathan outline how poverty affects our thinking and actions. Scarcity, says Shafir, takes hold of our brains. Whether it's time, money or calories, it seems as though we can only think about one thing. We develop tunnel vision and focus only on the urgent. Important but not top-of-mind issues disappear into the background.