This month is Pride Month, which focuses on the emancipation, empowerment and acceptance of people from the LGBT+ community. An important month for APG, which wants to be an organization where everyone, regardless of faith, orientation or gender, feels welcome and accepted. And where everyone has equal opportunities. As D&I officer at APG, Maikel Dullens contributes to precisely that goal.
The idea sounds simple, obvious and is by no means new: strive for a work environment where you feel safe and valued as a person. Where everyone gets equal opportunities. And where you can be who you want to be, regardless of what you look like, what you believe in or who you fall for.
And yet, it’s not really that obvious. There is still a wage gap between men and women in the Netherlands, relatively few women hold top positions and biases (whether unconsciously or not) frequently influence the hiring process of new employees. And there are countless other reasons that can make the workplace not (yet) the safe place it should be.
At the same time (for these very reasons), the topic has received much more attention worldwide in recent years. Including at APG. With diversity as the denominator for the visible and invisible characteristics by which we as human beings differ from one another, and inclusion as the denominator for the extent to which we recognize and value those differences - and make policy accordingly. In short, D&I. About five years ago, APG started actively drafting D&I policy. At that time it was still a sub-project of HR, but it resulted in a number of important milestones, the best known of which is the equalization of wages between men and women. Five years later, there is no longer any question of a sub-project. As D&I officer, Maikel Dullens has been working full-time since early 2023 to make APG an even more diverse and inclusive organization.
More than KPIs
Because there is still a world to be won, Maikel says: “APG is doing a lot in terms of D&I. And it is very valuable that there is full commitment from the executive board on this theme. It’s also great to see that Annette (Mosman, APG's CEO, ed.) is so committed to women’s financial independence. But there is still room for improvement in many areas. For instance, the gender ratio is still too skewed and we want to attract more people with a distance to the labor market. We also want to increase cultural diversity within APG. We have drawn up concrete KPIs for a number of these goals.”
But the inclusive organization APG strives to be goes beyond meeting KPIs. Maikel: “Our goal is for everyone to feel at home and safe within APG. That is only possible if colleagues are aware of their role in it. In that respect, D&I is a culture change. And my job is to see what actions are needed - and where there is a need - to increase that awareness among colleagues. So that everyone can contribute to that more inclusive work environment.”
Listen to coworkers
A task he very deliberately took on at APG. After eleven years in various roles (from HR officer to product owner) at clothing company H&M, the commercial aspect of his work started to gnaw at him. “Nothing wrong with H&M or selling clothes, but I wanted to do something with more social significance. My new position as D&I officer at APG offers plenty of that.”
Indeed, new, because for the first time D&I is not a task done on the side, but a full position. This also means that Maikel is sometimes still trying to figure out exactly where his responsibility starts and where it ends. But when asked about his approach, he paints a crystal-clear picture of his work. “The most important thing is listening to people. What do you run into when it comes to D&I? What is going well in the organization? Where is there room for improvement? And how can we work together better? I look at as many processes in the organization as possible and with the people, I ask: why do we do it this way or why not? This can involve major issues, such as closing the wage gap, but small steps are just as important. For example, we are currently working on the question of whether there are enough quiet rooms and rooms for pumping available.”