Board member and founder of DiverseDNB

We are not only diverse, but also inclusive. The network is open to everyone

A white organisation

"DNB was not the most obvious employer for me. From the outside, the organisation struck me as rather white and authoritarian, which I experienced as a threshold at the time. But that turned out not to be the case at all: during the interviews, enthusiasm grew on both sides and I started working at DNB as a Business Analyst. It did take some getting used to at first. While I have always felt like an outsider in the financial world as a woman of colour wearing a headscarf, it was the sheer size of the organisation that was new to me. DNB felt quite distant to various cultures with only few facilities. For example, there was no proper prayer room, my first offsite meetings were held during Ramadan and I was given a traditional Christmas package containing alcoholic drinks. I eventually discovered that there was some fragmented attention being paid to diversity. Neha Valiuddin, for example, was asked to talk about Ramadan. I contacted her immediately so that we could share our experiences.

Everyone is welcome

Soon, Neha and I came up with the idea of setting up a network. That was the starting point of 'DiverseDNB' two years ago. The initial idea was to create more awareness, but this quickly grew into an extensive network that believes we can really make a difference within the organisation. The network is emphatically not just open to Muslims, believers or colleagues from diverse backgrounds; we want to be fully inclusive. This is also reflected in the composition of the Board. We believe that you should be able to be who you are in your work environment, because that is your strength. Meanwhile, the name of the network no longer fully reflects its purpose, since we are not only diverse, but also inclusive. The network is open to everyone. And we take great pride in this.

In your work environment, you must be able to be who you are.

Everyone is heard

DiverseDNB now has five Board members and seventy members. For example, it was great to see that our Ramadan Challenge gave us an enormous membership boost, while almost all employees who participated did not do so for religious reasons but out of solidarity. That is a core value of Ramadan and also DiverseDNB’s aim: sharing experiences, without exclusion. We pay attention to as many special occasions as possible that our members have an affinity with, so that we can learn from each other and keep the conversation going. Not only do we want to be accessible, we also seek to act as a sounding board. That is why DNB employees can always come to us during our consultation hours. We hope that the easy accessibility that we convey is experienced by everyone and a reason for conversation.

Making an impact

We hold networking discussions on a variety of topics. We are in regular contact with HR on internal policies, so we can explore targeted solutions together. Last year, for example, we organised a lecture with Binna Kandola, business psychologist and author of the book "Racism at Work". Kandola introduced a number of dilemmas through a number of studies which we openly discussed. Our discussions can also cover incidental policy matters, such as a more inclusive way of asking questions in surveys that are being conducted. DiverseDNB is becoming more visible as a network within the organisation and is therefore increasingly invited to contribute ideas on various issues. This meets our aim of being adding value to the organisation. In the end, thanks to DiverseDNB, I was able to use my perspective as an "outsider" to its advantage."

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