Workplace Pride Leadership Award for Vice-Rector Simone Buitendijk

On 20 June, Vice-Rector Simone Buitendijk was presented with the Workplace Pride Leadership Award in recognition of her efforts for the acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) staff and students.

‘True ally’

Vice-Rector Simone Buitendijk

Vice-Rector Simone Buitendijk

Simone Buitendijk received the award in the category Most effective straight ally. ‘She is a true ally in our fight,’ says Dave Pollard, Executive Director of Workplace Pride. This international platform, based in Amsterdam and with members that include large international companies and public organisations, works for the acceptance of LGBT employees in the workplace.

Leading the way for other universities

Leiden was the first university to become a member of Workplace Pride (in January 2014). Dave Pollard: ‘Thanks to the example set by Leiden, other Dutch universities are now reflecting on what they do for their LGBT community. Although universities may conduct research on subjects like diversity, there is still a high threshold when it comes to talking about acceptance of their own LGBT staff and students. Simone Buitendijk had the courage to put this subject on the map, with the result that it is now taken seriously.’

Buitendijk’s response

‘This award is tremendous encouragement that we’re on the right track,’ says Buitendijk in her response. ‘Diversity is essential for a university; students and staff must be able to be who they are. It creates a pleasant working and learning environment, so people also perform better.’
She observes that universities often lag behind the private sector in taking concrete steps to promote diversity and inclusion. ‘Companies know that diversity pays, and that it enhances performance. Membership of Workplace Pride gives us a great incentive. Multinational companies such as Shell and ING are also members, and we can learn from their best practices.’

In addition to membership of Workplace Pride, since 1 January 2014 the university has had its own Diversity Officer. Dr Isabel Hoving, lecturer and researcher at the Centre for the Arts in Society, co-ordinates diversity-related activities and initiatives. Vice-Rector Buitendijk has also initiated various symposia focusing on diversity. The symposium on ‘Gendered Innovations’ (March 2014) drew attention to the importance of gender in determining research questions and conducting research, while ‘Excellence through Diversity’ (November 2013) focused on the importance of diversity for the academic field and the university community.

(24 June 2014)

See also

Last Modified: 24-06-2014