Universiteit Leiden

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New approach for more diversity in government

The government could do more to improve its diversity, says Saniye Çelik. By hiring people from a variety of backgrounds, the government will be better able to handle issues together with its citizens. Employees will also feel more connected to the organisation. PhD defence 10 November.

Staffing policy

It is important for government organisations to implement a hiring policy that takes into account differences in ethnic cultural background. When it comes to the government’s intention for the workforce to reflect society, reality has fallen far short of the ideal over the past fifteen years. The Equality and Diversity policy is actually having a stigmatising effect at the moment, as it leaves people feeling that they have been selected based on their characteristics rather than their qualities.

Higher staff turnover

There are around one million employees working in the public sector. Çelik thinks the reason that diversity in government is only showing a minimal increase is that turnover remains unintentionally high. The turnover of staff of non-western origin is significantly higher than the turnover of staff of Dutch descent. Çelik suspects that there may be areas of conflict in terms of culture and leadership which could be causing this higher turnover of staff.

Leadership and culture

In her thesis, Çelik demonstrates that government employees feel more connected to the organisation when diversity in the workforce is taken seriously. She emphasises the importance of leadership qualities that implement an ‘inclusive’ organisational culture. This will also mean people of a non-western origin are less likely to leave.

A new path

Diversity is not just a moral imperative, but also contributes to the effectiveness and legitimacy of the government. It is a new approach that improves the links between government and society, as people do not just expect politicians to represent their values and interests, but civil servants as well. It benefits both sides if their interaction is less fleeting.

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