Annemiek and Dorien are at the helm of NewBees. A diverse organisation, where everyone is passionately committed to an equal and inclusive Netherlands. How do you do this, what do you run into? And above all, how do you ensure that the common goal is safeguarded in a fast-growing organisation? Two women, one shared vision.
Dorien: “Many of our employees describe NewBees as a family. Perhaps a somewhat strange term, but we are a close-knit crew. It doesn’t just feel like an organisation, or like colleagues. It also feels like a community of sorts. We work towards a common goal; to empower people.”
Annemiek: “Together’ is an important aspect of how we work. None of our matchers can work alone, all of our available networks and talents are needed. As are our different ways of thinking. It is precisely this mix that allows us to fully commit to what we do. That is; creating traineeships for newcomers with local entrepreneurs and organisations.”
Together on the move to empower people
Dorien: “We believe in participating by working. Half of our team are newcomers themselves. They are also experts by experience, and role models for newcomers. The combination of a local expert and a newcomer expert means that our teams sometimes come up with the wildest ideas. With solutions that I could never have come up with myself, because I know nothing about it, or am not familiar with the problem at all. Our matchers do have this knowledge.”
Annemiek: “We strongly believe in this way of working together. We see diversity as a given; society is diverse. Inclusion is how you deal with this diversity. How do you make sure that differences can exist in all their glory, that every talent comes into its own, every idea is seen? That’s what we do at NewBees.”
“An important addition to this is that it is, of course, a two-way street. In society and therefore also in every workplace. We give workshops to newbies about working, but we also give workshops to employers about inclusion and about how to deal with differences in an equal way. It’s not like one is doing the other a favor. It only works if both parties benefit from it.”
It is precisely because of all the different cultures, personalities, experiences, trainings and working methods that we are where we are now
Annemiek: “In many organizations, inclusion is becoming increasingly important. Whether you are a bank, theater group, municipality or hairdresser. Your customers are a diverse group. You can only really serve them if that group is also well represented internally. At NewBees we benefit from this every day. With that practical experience, we want to inspire. Not only employers, but also government and policy.
NewBees, with ten nationalities in a team of almost 50 people, also serves as an example. It is precisely because of all these different cultures, personalities, experiences, training and working methods that we are where we are today. We are proof that inclusion can and does work better.”
Dorien: “Inclusion is the conscious use and positive appreciation of all complementary qualities. Think of a salad. With 20 ingredients you make a much tastier salad than if you only have two. From my role as operations director, I also use this line of thinking; ‘Ah nice, we didn’t have that flavor yet.’ If you can really feel and experience this as an employer, but also as a civil servant and policymaker, then inclusive work is not difficult at all. In fact, you would be selling yourself short if you didn’t bring in all those qualities when you know they are there. And sometimes not all diversity will work together; sometimes an ingredient won’t go well with the salad. That’s natural, that’s part of it. But it doesn’t mean that diversity as such doesn’t work.”
Annemiek: “Through our traineeships we offer practical tools and support, which contribute to inclusion. Often commissioned by municipalities. Since last year, we have been working together with our language partner NLtraining, so that learning the language coincides with the practical experience of the traineeship. This way the language is also directly applied in practice.”
Dorien: “Those practical tools, that’s NewBees in a nutshell. For example, in our pilot Zelf aan Zet, we organize neighborhood safaris in Friesland; on the road in the neighborhood. What can you do here? Where can you go with specific questions? If you have to do this on your own and you don’t speak the language, it is very complicated. But thanks to our matchers who know the neighborhood well, newcomers are introduced here and there and can find a place to use and develop their talents.”
Annemiek: “Zelf aan Zet’ is a good example of a project in the spirit of the new integration system that will take effect on 1 January 2022: together with NLtraining, we seamlessly link language and practice. With the new Civic Integration Act, the control of integration will be returned to the municipalities, and much more room will be created for similar dual programs. I think that is a good thing. We really see this as an opportunity to involve newcomers in designing civic integration together and, above all, in a practical way.”
If you organise integration in an inclusive way, everyone will benefit: newcomers, employers, the neighbourhood, the government and society.
Dorien: “So that newcomers can make the best use of their talents, and above all, that they can be happy. That’s what it’s all about in the end. I’m a huge fan of Aristotle. It’s about succeeding. About becoming happy. If you succeed, if you can use your talent, only then are you happy. If you can stand up for your own rights, choose for yourself, shape your own life – then you can succeed. For me, that is the goal of civic integration, and my personal motivation. That newcomers have the opportunity to succeed. Fortunately, NewBees is a chronically positive club. Above all, we see a lot of opportunities.”
Annemiek: “Our goal is to make the Netherlands more inclusive, and to do so through the workplace by organizing traineeships in as many places in the Netherlands as possible. The new Civic Integration Act is a great way to get started in new municipalities. And a great opportunity for municipalities to approach this the right way. NewBees shows that if you organize integration in an inclusive way, everyone reaps the benefits; newcomers, employers, the neighborhood, the government and society.”
This interview appeared in our magazine, in honor of NewBees’ fifth anniversary. Curious about the entire magazine, with portraits, articles and background stories? Download here