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Jojanneke van der Toorn appointed to new Workplace Pride chair

From 1 January 2017 Jojanneke van der Toorn will be the first holder of the Workplace Pride special chair, with a focus on the inclusion of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). This new chair is a joint initiative of the Workplace Pride Foundation, Leiden University, and the telecom company KPN.

Teaching and research

The focus of the teaching and research associated with the chair will be on research into the inclusion of LGBT employees in the workplace, and how to improve inclusion. In addition, the aim is to create a framework for future research into the position of LGBT employees in the workplace. In the broader sense this entails identifying factors that influence the inclusion of LGBT individuals in our society, both at the national and the international level, and using the resulting insights to improve policymaking. In her work, Professor Van der Toorn will establish a bridge to a wider public and the media. At the same time, scientific knowledge about the inclusion of LGBT individuals in the workplace will feed into Leiden University’s bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes.

Expertise

In this chair, the psychologist Professor Van der Toorn will be combining her knowledge in two research fields: her expertise in the area of diversity dovetails closely with her knowledge of social change and societal inequality. This is what fits her so well for this chair. In the words of Hanna Swaab, Dean of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences: ‘Jojanneke van der Toorn has extensive research experience in the field of social and organizational psychology, including LGBT-related topics. She emerged as the winning candidate in a stiff competition including strong international applicants. The Faculty is looking forward to collaborating with Workplace Pride in the context of this chair.’

Teaching

Van der Toorn is looking ahead: ‘Since my appointment is for one day a week, I will not be able to give a whole module on this subject. Guest lectures are more effective in this case. I am also hoping to think along with other lecturers about how to introduce this subject in their courses. Maybe by introducing specific scientific knowledge, or practical case studies.’

Collaboration

During the five years of her appointment to the special chair, Van der Toorn will have access to 50 or more collaborative partners in the public and private sector. ‘I’m really looking forward to this opportunity to combine carrying out my research with actually applying it in practice, including working together with these 50 organizations that are all involved in Workplace Pride. This gives me access to a huge network, and I plan to invite them to think along with me about questions such as what works or doesn’t work in practice. I will subsequently investigate whether these intuitions are backed up by empirical practice. Because even if we have the impression that something is working, that doesn’t necessarily mean that that is genuinely the case.’

Research

Professor Van der Toorn continues: ‘In my research I want first of all to investigate what goes on in the workplace. What are the positive and negative experiences of LGBT employees, and how are they viewed by other employees? Secondly, I want to work out what could be done differently and better, and then to implement these insights in the form of concrete policy applications. This is relevant not only for Workplace Pride and its partner organizations, but for every organization that wants to actively promote an inclusive work environment.

In 2015, Jojanneke van der Toorn was awarded the Gratama Science Award for the most promising young researcher in Leiden at the opening of the academic year.