FEB has to own up to diversity issues

An internal investigation at the Faculty of Economy and Business (FEB) ordered by the faculty board has shown that Dutch men predominate and that social security among minorities at times may be lacking.

The work group says the results of the investigation sketch an overall positive image of the faculty and the way it handles diversity, inclusion and social security. Nevertheless, the investigators warned the results might present a distorted view.

Among the various sub-groups (such as internationals, women, and junior researchers), respondents are a lot more pessimistic. To varying degrees, some employees feel unsafe at the faculty. The report includes mentions of verbal aggression, discrimination, and bullying.

‘We’re not happy with some of the findings’, says Robbert Maseland, chair of the faculty board and part of the work group. ‘It’s not all sunshine and roses. But we’d kind of expected these results. Every large organisation has these issues. I’d be more worried if we hadn’t found this, because that would mean people didn’t feel safe to talk about them.’

Dean Peter Verhoef also acknowledges some of the findings were to be expected. ‘We started the investigation because we realised some things weren’t quite right.’ He says an independent and diverse work group was essential to get those issues out in the open. ‘Now we have to own up to our own mistakes’, he says.


The social security isn’t the only issue at the faculty. The investigators are cautious in their analysis, but they have concluded that there are disparities between men and women and Dutch and international employees when it comes to rewards and promotions. Dutch men usually have the advantage over their female and/or international colleagues.

The investigators say this is partially due to the fact that some people from their minorities don’t have proper access to informal networks at the university. These networks are an essential part of the FEB community. ‘We’ve advised that the importance of internal networks for management and policy should be decreased’, says Maseland.

The criteria for awarding resources and promotions should also be made more comprehensible. Verhoef acknowledges these criteria haven’t always been clear. ‘Last year, we tried to create a uniform tenure track policy. We also implemented a standard evaluation form for every candidate.’

Check and balances

While the investigation has put the faculty’s sore points on paper, the investigators want to emphasise how much is actually going right. ‘What we’ve shown’, says Maseland, ‘is that in general things are going well, but that there aren’t sufficient checks and balances in place for the people who do have issues. Our priority is to get those back.’

The board agrees with this assessment, says Verhoef. ‘If there’s one thing that’s important to us, it’s the disparity in social security between the various groups. Everyone should feel at home at the faculty, and we cannot tolerate inappropriate behaviour.’


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