What makes Arcadis a great place to work? Not only is it our interesting projects, flexibility, and career opportunities, but most importantly it is our people. After all, we are a consulting company and therefore our people and the skills and innovation of our people is what drives our business.
On the evening of November 29, the Antwerp office got together to celebrate just that: our people. More specifically, we celebrated the diversity of 22 unique nationalities in Belgium. In the last year and half that I’ve worked at Arcadis Belgium, I’ve seen the diversity of our teams grow. Just listen and you’ll not only hear Flemish and French (two of the official country languages), but English, German, Spanish, Italian, and more. Kristof Peperstraete, CEO of Belgium, laughed as he remarked that “Belgium is a country I think where we have the tendency to be open. Where we collaborate, and we also try to speak more than one language so that we can really communicate with everybody.”
Why is diversity important? To answer this, we must first start with inclusion. When I first moved 7,800 kilometers (4,850 miles) across the world it was amazing to see my new colleagues include me in all sorts of activities. Even the simple things such as getting invited to lunch and engaging in conversations about traditional ways to greet people, we all were learning from each other.
Since then, I’ve had the great opportunity to be involved in shaping our inclusive Arcadis culture and supporting the diversity of our teams through our diversity and inclusion program. We can read about facts like the McKinsey study stating companies that are racially diverse are 35 percent more likely to exceed their industry peers financially, but how do we role-model and achieve this? It all starts with the #littlethings, such as exchanging stories over a basket of Belgium frites, or organizing events like this one that bring people together.
So what’s next? Together with my colleagues, we are working towards an inclusive and diverse culture and have begun to host Unconscious Bias Training workshops in different offices throughout Belgium (and soon Germany). It’s really an exciting time to see the energy of programs and events like this shift mindsets and improve the diversity of our business. I’m looking forward to what 2019 brings, because as Kristof Peperstraete stated, “diverse perspectives on our teams [will] make our company stronger.”
Until next time,
P.S. Please also watch this video about this get together. There is some background noise.