Hanneke Takkenberg appointed Chief Diversity Officer
Professor Hanneke Takkenberg of Erasmus MC, recently appointed Chief Diversity Officer by Erasmus University Rotterdam’s Executive Board, has been tasked with ensuring a greater focus on diversity in the university’s education and research and in its workforce and student population. For the first time, there will be a university-wide diversity policy. The policy’s priorities will be gender balance and cultural diversity.
As Chief Diversity Officer, Professor Takkenberg will lead efforts to increase diversity within the university as an organisation and ensure that attention is given to diversity in education and research. An evidence-based approach will be used. In other words, a successful approach will be developed on the basis of current and newly acquired insights. The initiatives of faculties will also be used in this regard. New initiatives will be properly studied from the outset.
In addition, the diversity policy concerning education will be reviewed and expanded. Erasmus University has a very diverse student population. The new approach will seek to reduce the differences in academic success between students with different cultural backgrounds. In addition, since there are far fewer opportunities in the job market for non-Western students of foreign heritage, Erasmus University wishes to contribute to the successful outflow and integration of its graduates into employment.
Projects will be implemented to further shape and embed the new diversity policy within the existing organisation. Professor Takkenberg will present a plan of action this autumn.
Network of professors
Following the appointments by Leiden University and VU University Amsterdam, Hanneke Takkenberg is the third Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) to be appointed by a Dutch university. She is already chair of the Erasmus Network of Female Professors (ENVH), which recently established the ENVH Athena Award for employees who make exceptional efforts to support female talent. The award, a painting and a certificate, is presented during the university’s anniversary on 9 November.
In the words of Hanneke Takkenberg, “I very much believe in the benefit of difference. Erasmus University serves a society that is becoming increasingly diverse. It is therefore essential for us as a university to ensure that our students and staff are capable of effectively handling a multiplicity of views. We must also ensure that there is diversity in our own workforce and in the excellent education and research that we provide. Erasmus University is therefore working to establish equal opportunities and a culture in which everyone feels at home and can make the most of his or her talents. My aim for the coming period is to make sure that diversity is truly embedded within our organisation. Interventions that have proven to be effective, an appreciation of differences and a greater awareness of implicit bias will be key elements in this regard.
The new approach and the appointment of a CDO are in keeping with Erasmus University’s diversity-related aims set out in the Impact and Relevance 2014-2018 strategic plan. A separate steering group is already advising the Executive Board on gender issues in relation to the academic staff. In addition, agreements on strategy concluded with the deans include provisions concerning the appointment of female associate professors and professors. Since 2009, the proportion of female professors has increased from over 10 percent to 15.5 percent.
Erasmus University is cooperating closely with VU University Amsterdam and Leiden University in the Future for Diversity Task Force. This task force focuses on the intake, academic progression and graduation of students with different cultural backgrounds, particularly in terms of successful entry into the job market.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment has therefore shown particular interest in the initiative. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is also focusing on diversity. In the recently published strategic agenda for higher education, Minister Bussemaker states that a “pluralism of perspectives” should be a priority to all universities and universities of applied sciences and refers to the Future for Diversity Task Force as an example.