#59 Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Whether in the corporate world, academia, or politics, “diversity” is a hot issue. And rightly so; along the lines of race, gender, faith, and sexual orientation, opportunities to benefit from these institutions are far from equal. When it comes to people with some form of disability or handicap, the discrepancy is even more pronounced. How can we improve diversity within our institutions, without turning it into a meaningless administrative criteria or tokenizing certain groups of people?

Be vulnerable. Forget about management models. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Meet Otto Reuchlin, founder and director of Peer. For the last three and a half years, Peer has provided accounting services for clients large and small in the Netherlands. What makes them truly unique is that their entire staff consists of either individuals with so-called occupational disabilities or refugees from countries like Syria. Sounds radical? From Otto’s perspective, “I always say we are a normal company and the others are strange.”

In this episode:

+ “We fit jobs to people, not people to jobs.” Why Peer did away with job descriptions.

+ Why giving people certain kinds of special treatment can morph into another form of discrimination.

+ Vulnerability as a two-way street: why managers need to take an honest look at themselves to empathize with their employees.

+ Otto challenges the assumption that hiring employees with occupational disabilities requires special skills; being sensitive is the only requirement.

+ Why turning diversity and sustainability into performance indicators corrupts their true value.

+ How Otto’s personal growth manifested itself in Peer, and why authenticity comes before all else.

“Seventy percent of our people are highly trained people with an occupational disability. The other thirty percent are accountants from refugee countries.”Otto Reuchlin

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