In April 2016, former football international John de Wolf was appointed ‘Ambassador against unemployment of those over 50 (years of age)’. The Dutch government decided to start this campaign due to the fact that there’s a significant group of 50+ unemployed who have problems finding a new job. Many employers are reluctant to hire them, as they are seen as less productive, their skills are perceived as outdated and organizations think that this group calls in sick a lot. Hence, they struggle with a lot of bias and John de Wolf took up the task to prove those with a negative perception wrong. He emphasizes the advantages of diversity in the workforce and as ICT Group also hired several new colleagues of over 50 years of age, John decided to come and visit us. He made a little video that you can watch above this message. It’ll show you that none of the above mentioned prejudices are a reality in our organization.
Having this ambassador is of course a good –and unfortunately necessary- initiative, but employers can benefit from a broader sense of diversity. Diversity is not just about age, gender or ethnicity. It is about encouraging everyone, independent of their role, seniority or educational level, to speak up. This way you can create an atmosphere with idea-diversity where employees feel motivated to take initiative, discuss concepts and innovate. Having a mix of perspectives can bring ideas to live as colleagues are challenged to look at an issue from multiple directions hence shaping their idea and learning from each other. We already see that happening within ICT Group, where projects with a diversified team combine expertise with fresh views. Everyone should be able to contribute, also those who are over 50 and bring a lot of experience and knowledge.
This is not a simple challenge and it would be nice to have organizations inspiring each other, so maybe John de Wolf can continue as an ‘Ambassador for idea-diversity’ after his current project finishes.