Boyd Wolters: Diversity and Inclusion Awards 2021 from Start to Finish
“…prove to the world that you are Your Talent Agency’s Diversity and Inclusion award winner, the reigning company of the year!”
Hi, my name is Boyd and I’m the Business Development and Customer Success Manager at Your Talent Agency. I initially started at Your Talent Agency as a Relocation Consultant for the eastern part of the Netherlands seeing as I live so close to the German border (I take great pride in “Twents” accent; it’s very cultured, I’ll have you know). On top of my daily routine, I’ve taken on the annual Diversity and Inclusion Awards. Let me share with you how we got here.
Well, where do I start? As you know, Diversity and Inclusion are important topics in the world right now. For workplaces, this can look like creating an environment that is welcoming and open for their staff and appealing to new talent.
Over the years, we have been blown away at how companies and organizations alike have risen way above the toxic office culture of decades past (you know, water cooler gossip and inappropriate jokes from the boss) to offer their talented workforce a home away from home. A place where their values and (pronoun) preferences are respected. We sincerely believe that diversity and inclusivity aren’t just hot topics, they are here to f*cking stay. And we want to praise the participants for their efforts in creating a diverse and inclusive work environment that their #epic talent so very much deserves.
TALE AS OLD AS TIME: LET’S START EARLY, SO WE HAVE PLENTY OF TIME (RIGHT?)
As you know, Your Talent Agency never colors inside the lines! But more on that in a moment. Here’s how it all began.
Sacha (officially our Chief Executive Officer and unofficially our Chief Brain-fart Officer) was bursting with ideas. Our email in-boxes and text messages were peppered with concepts, possibilities, people to talk to and what we would need. We gathered the YTA team together and started brainstorming. If you’ve met me and some of my colleagues, then you know that we are all very enthusiastic people. Just imagine the sound of a room filled with hungry hyenas. You’re welcome.
At the end of the meeting, seven colleagues walked out of the room with 14 ideas in total. We’d scheduled another meeting for two weeks later to pitch our concepts. One thing was certain, we wanted to go big, and I mean REALLY epic! We bridged together our ideas, making sure everyone was included. That was important to us since we are talking about inclusivity here, remember.
Sacha had already been in contact with Techleap. If you’ve never heard of them, they are a super cool non-profit that focuses on building a thriving startup ecosystem in the Netherlands. They are interested in working with companies (like yours truly) who promote awareness about diversity and inclusivity and they agreed to work together with us on our awards event.
With deadlines nipping at our heels, we made a to do list and got to work on the survey. It was crafted in such a way that every company could participate, no matter how big or small. We made sure that the survey questions were multiple choice but also a few open questions so participants would have their chance to stand out and really shine! After clicking send, we just had to sit back and relax while waiting for the results to come rolling in (oh, how I wish that was true – there was still so much to prepare).
AN EVENT WITH ACTUAL PEOPLE
After months of COVID, lockdowns and online events, Sacha and I experienced a bit of “socializing shock” when went to a three-day event in Rotterdam. It was our very first official event (with real people!) in such a long time. So, with some reluctance, I swapped my sweatpants, hoodie and Ugg slippers for actual business attire.
Off we went with our suitcases in tow, drove to Rotterdam (which is an obstacle in itself), checked in to our hotel close to the garden gnome butt plug sculpture (No joke. It’s art. Don’t ask.) and met some amazing people. It was there that we met Techleap in person and we discussed plans for Diversity Day. With Techleap in our corner, we were able to send out the survey to even more companies in the Netherlands and the results were amazing! Since our initial meeting, the idea had grown and changed, and we found ourselves in a time crunch of needing to make a new plan in just two weeks’ time!
It was all hands-on deck to make sure we rolled out the event of the year! We had to wait for all of the results to come in until we could determine the Top 3. The waiting game was nerve-wracking but we got to work ordering stuff! Each of the winning companies would be presented with an engraved glass award. The top 10 were to receive a participation award and a small gift of a YTA branded Tony’s Chocolonely chocolate bar. The decoration, supplies and all the equipment also needed to be arranged.
With a Black-Tie theme, and wanted to give our guests a red-carpet moment and chance to strut their stuff. Instead of using a red carpet though, we ordered a royal rainbow carpet (Hell yeah, we did). And what’s a red-carpet moment without a photo wall? (Boom! YTA/Techleap harmonica wall, add to shopping cart). Can you even call it an awards event without champagne?! (Short answer: no.) Pop the bubbly: we had 35 bottles chilled to perfection and ready to serve. Of course, it was paired YTA branded snacks (because which Scrooge doesn’t love popcorn?). A celebration isn’t complete without a party! Cue silent disco. Last, but definitely not least, because we really wanted to blow everyone away, f*cking fireworks.
GAME FACES EVERYONE! IT’S SHOWTIME
6:30 am My alarm went off Tuesday October 5th, 2021. I rolled out of bed and traded in my birthday suit for my signature red suit. Looking sharp. Met up with everyone at 8am at our office in Haarlem. Loaded the cars with all the decorations, snacks, drinks, etc. Everything but the kitchen sink.
8:30 am We had a very tight schedule to make sure we didn’t show up too late at the last company of the day. Murphy’s Law. Obviously when you’re following a really tight schedule, something goes wrong. We started our cars, set the navigation app for the first address which was supposed to take an hour. The voice of the navigation app states: “You’re estimated arrival time is 10am”. Well f*ck me, we haven’t even left yet and we’re already half an hour behind schedule.
We’d arranged an entire film crew to make a movie for us, documenting the day. Not just for ourselves but also for the winners so they could also share it on their social media platforms. We’d decided that our branded YTA car would be that one that would drive in front so I-Mor could film it. Murphy’s Law paid us another visit. Traffic jam. Watching the clock, we had to improvise and Sacha took a detour. So that’s why we weren’t able to film her at this location, but hey, A for effort.
10:00 am When we arrived in Rotterdam at Equalture, we got the notification that they wanted to have the event inside. For the people that don’t know me, if I organize something, there’s no wiggle room. It has to go as planned or you’ll deal with the wrath of my “disappointed face”. It’s not my most charming quality, I know. Anyway, we’d set everything up as you’ve seen in the pictures, celebrated and brought the house down! We presented the award to Charlotte Melkert (CEO of Equalture) and Fleur Melkert, packed up everything, loaded the trucks and moved on to the next location! All of that in about an hour and a half.
By the way, one of the reasons Equalture won is because for them: “Diversity & inclusivity is what we do. Our mission is ‘to shape the world of unbiased hiring’ so we live and breathe this on a daily basis.” Beautiful, no?
12:30 pm The next location was in Hilversum at NEP Media Solutions. We arrived there just before the lunchbreak, so we set up quickly and tried to gather as many people as possible. We tried to lure them with popcorn, champagne and the silent disco but not everyone was as enthusiastic as we were. This might also have scared them off (remember the hyenas I was telling you about earlier?).
At Equalture, we weren’t able to set off the fireworks but at NEP, the conditions were perfect! The moment Sacha gave the award to Kirsten Nijmeijer (CHRO at NEP) and Marieke den Ouden (Talent Recruiter Team People) the fire fountain went off! They didn’t expect it at all so seeing their faces light up like kids on Christmas morning was absolutely amazing. Even during the photo ops, they used the fire fountain to add a cool extra effect.
One of the reasons NEP won is because of the following: They have a NEPeople magazine to keep all colleagues informed. They proudly participate during PRIDE, they challenge the status quo with hiring managers who tend to be biased in interviews with potential candidates, they take immediate action against bullying, they facilitate a nursing and prayer room and last but not least: Diversity and Inclusion is part of their onboarding program.
Right, packing up again, loading the trucks and on to the last location! Mobiquity in Amsterdam. As we were running late from the get-go, of course we would arrive way too early at the last location.
3:30 pm The rain poured as we were pulling up at Mobiquity. We had the opportunity to decorate their new office, which is next to their current office. One word; WOW! An amazing open space with a robust atmosphere, plants, bleachers, you name it and it’s probably there!
Moment supreme: Mobiquity arrived all dressed up! They got the memo and were dressed to the nines! Suits, gowns, dresses, heels the whole shebang! They danced like no one was watching, celebrated and had a lot of fun! Gwen Kolader (the VP of People & Culture) and Paul Beglinger (Recruitment Director) received the award for Mobiquity. And with that, our day came to a close.
One of the reasons Mobiquity won is because of the following: They recruit from all over the world, they fully support relocation (including families) in the onboarding, they really dive into cultural differences and tailor it to the countries of origin, within the first quarter HR keeps close contact with all new employees to see how well they are doing and, last but not least, a lot of meetings to make new talent really feel like part of the company.
For the last time that day, we packed up our stuff, loaded the vans, and went home. Luckily, I didn’t wear my Louboutin’s, otherwise I would have had blisters for sure.
7:30 pm Back home, feet up, glass of wine, Netflix on. Boyd out.
What’s in the pipeline for 2022, you ask?
As mentioned before, Your Talent Agency doesn’t color inside the lines. So, for the Diversity and Inclusion Awards 2022, we already have our engines gearing up! To let you in on a little bit of our secret, I’ll end with the following:
“Three companies stand before us. We’ve calculated the results but the final decision is ours to make. Prior to tonight, you’ve been requested to prepare a………………. This is your last chance to impress us and prove to the world that you are Your Talent Agency’s Diversity and Inclusion award winner, the reigning company of the year! Good luck and don’t f*ck it up!