Different perspectives lead to better solutions
Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Anyone who’s ever met KPN’s Ronald Nieuwenhuis will tell you this: he exudes positivity. Nieuwenhuis has worn many hats during his nearly 12-year career at the telecommunications giant: Shop Manager (which he still regards as the “best education” he’s ever received), Recruiter, HR Advisor, HR Business Partner and—since October 2018—Manager Inclusivity and Social Entrepreneurship.
“We all matter,” Nieuwenhuis strongly believes. “As a gay man, I’ve always felt the need to feel accepted and to be included,” he says. “You have the right to be who you are and make the contribution of your choice. You perform better when you feel confident to bring your whole self to work and you can add value from your own perspective.”
Nieuwenhuis’ mission is to foster a more diverse staff, accelerate KPN’s diversity efforts and to hire more women in top roles. “Research shows us that diverse teams achieve better results and make better decisions. KPN is in a very competitive market and has a wide range of diverse customers, therefore we need diverse leadership teams,” he says. “Diversity of perspectives also leads to more innovation, which is so important in 2019.”
He adds that it’s crucial especially for women to have role models, which is why more women are needed in management and board positions. “Too many young girls and women in our society don’t believe they can have a career, or believe it’s not possible to have both a family and a career. We want to show and inspire them: if you want to achieve something, you can do this and we will facilitate your career path.”
The company wants women to make up 30% of its workforce. Next to strict policies, offering support is important. To support its female employees, Nieuwenhuis says the company organises several events internally to inspire and empower women. More than 50 KPN employees attended RightBrains’ summer networking event in June. “I’m very proud of that,” he says. “I think it shows that we take this topic seriously.”
More women are needed in the field of digital technology and Nieuwenhuis thinks it’s their responsibility as a large organisation to educate and upskill women. “I’ve noticed that a lot of women are interested in this field, but they’re insecure about their skill sets. That’s one of the reasons why I support RightBrains’ mission,” he says.
Nieuwenhuis says KPN plans to design personal development and mentor programmes targeted at women. When female talent resigns, it’s a learning opportunity: “We do exit interviews with talented women who leave the company, so we can gain insights and hopefully do better in the future,” Nieuwenhuis explains.
Opportunity for all
On top of that, KPN offers employees the freedom and flexibility to work from home. “We offer a good work-life balance; something that’s important for everyone.”
Nieuwenhuis is also the chairman of a foundation that offers financial solutions to debt-ridden KPN employees. His social entrepreneurship mission includes helping people with a distance to the labour market to get an education as well as work experience, giving more people better qualifications to further their career. “Everyone deserves the opportunity to contribute—to wake up with a purpose and fulfil it,” he says.