Inequality is a deeply rooted, structural problem in which everyone plays a role – and that includes us. We use our keen eye, our work and our values to recognise and tackle inequality. However, we also know this is a (long) process of ++Institutional racismSee also this opinion piece on institutional racism (in Dutch only), on how inequality is deeply entrenched in all our systems and therefore continues to survive in environments where most people are against racism, including our own organisation. . We don’t let this hold us back, because the same applies to all innovation in society. Instead, we fight the temptation to choose the easiest and most pragmatic course. And because we want others to be able to judge how well we keep our promises, we have shared our inclusive working policy here. If you see something that can be done better, please let us know and keep us sharp.
Why we devote explicit attention to inclusive working
- The systems in which we work (such as healthcare, education and government) are based on structures of inequality, and thus reproduce inequality. Something has to change. If we don’t address it explicitly, nothing will happen.If we don’t address it explicitly, nothing will happen.
- Our privileges mean we don’t automatically or naturally work inclusively. Constant vigilance is needed to recognise our own blind spots and prejudices (and be held to account by others), and to take immediate action where necessary.
- Our working methods focus on transforming target groups back into people, because we value the knowledge and experience of people closest to the problem. Nevertheless, we often miss the perspective of people from ++MarginalisationIf groups of people are marginalised, this leads to exclusion and discrimination. This may be on the basis of gender, sexuality, age, nationality, skin colour, education, social status etc. This structural exclusion prevents people from benefiting fully from the available opportunities in society. in our projects. In our role as researcher/advisor/process counsellor, we work to proactively involve these people. This ensures that our good intentions do not entrench inequality instead of tackling it.
How we work more and more inclusively
- It is perhaps most important to acknowledge that there are also unrecognised and certainly unintentional (!) standards, values, traditions, processes, requirements and characteristics in our organisation that are not in themselves discriminatory, but which may nevertheless exclude people. Or in concrete terms: insufficiently “including” or seeking out people who are not like us, because they don’t identify with us, because they think they will not fit in, because they think we are not interested in them or because we don’t even reach them.
- In each situation, we examine the power structures: which groups will benefit, who is privileged? We don’t immediately propose solutions, but take a step back if necessary.
- With complex social problems, the knowledge and experience of people closest to the problem (the groups who will benefit from a solution) are our starting point for improvement. We look for as many opportunities as possible to allow them to contribute and to help design both the solution and the process that leads there.We look for as many opportunities as possible to allow people closest to the problem to contribute and to help design both the solution and the process that leads there. It is also important to keep learning, to be aware of the danger of doing the same as we have always done.
- We actively seek out our blind spots by ++Power checksWe use tools such as Power Checks, with the help of the Social Designer’s Field Guide to Power Literacy: we use this to develop our alertness, sensitivity and understanding of the impact of power and privilege (in all its forms) and systematic repression in participative processes.
, our own actions and our projects. We also regularly encourage and organise internal discussions around the topics of inclusion and diversity and learn about this from external experts.
- We actively work to promote an inclusive culture in our workplace and in our relationships with our partners and clients, in which everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts. We learn about this from diversity experts. With larger projects, we also assemble an advisory group consisting of exactly the people we want the project to support. We also address one another about our blind spots and pay particular attention to the existence of an unintentional, but nevertheless undesirable, normative culture++Normative cultureA normative culture is the culture that dominates in written and unwritten (behavioural) rules. The white, male, heterosexual perspective is dominant in the Netherlands. within Kennisland.
- We actively address the topic of inclusive working with our partners and clients.We actively address the topic of inclusive working with our partners and clients. We also ask them what they need from us to work together to achieve this, and make the necessary time and resources available. Where possible, we involve the groups who will benefit (end users) as early as possible, ideally from the tendering phase.
- Our methods, approaches and publications are covered by an open policy, because we want everyone to benefit from them. Being as open and transparent as possible means we can also be held to account. We invite everyone to help us refine our thoughts and interventions.
- We regularly publish reports on how we work inclusively, we are ++Fault tolerantThis means we recognise that inclusive working is a process of trial and error. We try to learn from “mistakes” as much as possible, rather than condemning. and we do our best to grow based on the feedback we receive.
- We believe in the power of collaboration and diversity. That’s why we forge strong and often unexpected coalitions with other pioneers and maverick thinkers. We are always looking for new partnerships with people and organisations who also work explicitly to promote inclusion and diversity. If this applies to you, we’d love to hear from you.
- Kennisland strives for diversity in our team in terms of specialist expertise, knowledge and experience, social and cultural background, gender, age, skin colour and personality types. We are actively looking for people who don’t automatically come to our attention.We are actively looking for people who don’t automatically come to our attention. It is clear that “positive discrimination” and an anonymised application process alone are not enough. To address this, we work together with experts and recruitment agencies who specialise in diversity in the workplace.
- We write ++ReadabilityOur website is primarily aimed at potential clients and other decision makers. While readability is certainly very important, the text may be fairly complex. for the diverse groups who benefit from our projects, resources and channels. In both our internal and external communication, we pay attention to the ++LiteracyThe website www.ishetb1.nl/search is a useful tool for checking whether a (Dutch) word is understandable for people with a low level of literacy. of those involved with a project and the representation of various groups.
We invite you to examine how inclusively you actually work, just as we do. We would love to hear about your experiences.
Let us learn and make progress together!