“The labor market deserves a different perspective”

Published on: 28 September 2023

Annette Mosman goes walking with Dominique Hermans. She is the Chief Executive of Randstad Northern Europe. Additionally, she is a member of the Board of Directors of the Amsterdam Economic Board. A conversation with her about the position of women, the labor market and the long-term perspective of the working population.


In a nutshell:

  • Discussion about many issues, the common thread was the financial independence of women.
  • Randstad participates in projects to combat inequality of opportunity, such as local initiatives that ensure that childcare is available and accessible to everyone.
  • Advocate for change at various levels, improving the position of women; socially, but also among employers.

Shoes off, legs on the table; that’s not what Annette and Dominique do. However, it is quite tempting after the walk they had through a part of the ‘Groene Hart’. “A great walk”, Annette says to Dominique when they arrive on the terrace in Aalsmeer. The Chief Executive of Randstad Northern Europe nods. “And we had some good conversations along the way.”


Many topics were discussed, but the common thread was women’s financial independence. “Women don’t have enough action perspective”, Annette firmly states. She refers to the fact that women on average accrue 400 euro less in pension than men, resulting in a pension gap of almost 40 percent. “And the problem as a woman is that it is impossible to bridge that gap. It is a fact that Dutch women work part-time more often and on average perform 10 hours less paid work per week compared to men”, Annette says.


Not properly balanced.

Dominique agrees with Annette. “We just don’t have a proper balance in the Netherlands”, she says. And it is also the case, according to her, that if you are born in a disadvantaged family, it’s not easy to overcome that situation. “And women are most vulnerable in that respect.” According to Annette, the latter also is the result of a relatively high number of women working on a self-employed basis in certain industries. “This ensures more flexibility and the hourly rate is often higher than for someone in paid employment. So, that makes it a rather logic step but by doing so, women also have less security for the future.”


Dominique: “When you look at the self-employed market of 1.2 million people, 65 percent is male and 35 percent is female. If you then zoom in deeper into the different industries, it’s mostly women who are active on a self-employed basis in the sectors care, education, hospitality and cleaning. Especially those sectors have ‘smaller’ jobs for which the pay is less generous. Working on a self-employed basis increases the salary and the hours somewhat.”

hen you look at the self-employed market of 1.2 million people, 65 percent is male and 35 percent is female

Local initiatives

For that reason, Randstad participates in projects to combat inequality of opportunities, according to Dominique. “For example, we support local initiatives to make childcare available and accessible for everyone. That makes it easier for women to accept a job, as the care for the children has been arranged. This then enables them to increase the family income and to accrue pension.”


An important aspect, Annette knows. “Changes have to be implemented at several levels to improve the position of women; in society but also at employers. Employers can offer women more flexibility in their jobs, so they no longer have to switch to a self-employed situation. And yes, being a woman, you have a choice in the Netherlands. But there are also factors involved such as invisible social pressure. The tasks are divided around the kitchen table and it’s often automatically the case that women take care of the children.” Dominique therefore advocates for a broader perspective. “If you dissect work entirely, you will see numerous facets. Work earns you money, work has a social component embedded, work ensures self-development, it is your insurance for a future income, et cetera, et cetera. That really is the case and I witness it up close.” She refers to her sister in this respect. “My sister has Down’s syndrome and goes to a care facility every day. They also do some small jobs for local companies. Handcrafts, cooking for the entire group, working in a shop, baking a cake; it is so good to see my sister considers that to be work. And don’t you dare calling it anything different. And if she doesn’t go there on a certain day, she truly regrets that. That really is her thing, her freedom, her independency, her work.”

The importance of working

The walk with Annette got Dominique thinking. “I am more aware of the importance of work again. And of the long-term perspective work offers people.” But, as the top manager of Randstad knows, an evolution is ongoing on the other hand. “Just take generation Z, they look at work entirely different and often choose to be self-employed with more freedom and more salary for now.” According to Annette, some sort of stigma seems to rest on work when it comes to the young generations. “Generation Z is a generation for whom 40 hours work per week and going to the office every day, no longer is the obvious thing to do.” Therein also lies a danger, she knows. “I see a parallel with the financial position of women. This on the understanding that women in paid employment still accrue some pension, while that is not automatically the case for self-employed. So, if we are not careful, we end up with generations without a good income for later.” Dominique says Randstad is trying to create awareness. “We have to take this seriously; we have to make the importance of working in paid employment more insightful. How? For example by raising awareness.”

Annette welcomes those words. “Dominique is not only looking at the short-term, to hiring people for a certain period of time, but also at the longer term and the perspective for men and women on the labor market. Truly enjoyable.” Dominique laughs. “Everyone is talking about a circular economy, but that doesn’t seem true all of sudden when it comes to employees. They are sometimes just ‘trashed’ or forced into a self-employed situation. The labor market really deserves a different perspective.”