Diversity & Inclusiveness

Newsletter 5, December 2017

A look back at the Diversity Symposium 2017
An enthusiastic audience of over three hundred people participated in the symposium How inclusion makes diversity work that showed that our diversity, equity and inclusion policy can only succeed if we speak openly, explicitly, and with precision about the practices we want to improve, and the deep-seated obstacles to achieving change. And, more than that, it can only succeed with good leadership. A reflection by  Diversity Officer Isabel Hoving: ‘If we show openness, precision, and leadership we can move forward!’
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With this newsletter the Diversity Office of Leiden University will keep you informed about diversity and inclusiveness activities. Do you want to contribute to this newsletter? Please email to
Be critical about your own practice

Estela Bensimon, Professor of Higher Education at USC Rossier School of Education, explained that the terms diversity and inclusion do not address what is at stake. Instead, the university needs to focus on obtaining racial equity: students from ethnic minority groups do not have the same starting position as white students, and our university is  not yet successful at offering them the same opportunities. Estela Bensimon insists on the need to take a critical look at our practices because they may not be working in the way we hope they should, whether in teaching, recruitment, or other areas.  We are all too often reproducing the inequality and exclusion we aim at countering.


Bensimon’s Center of Urban Education provides practical tools that help teachers analyse their own teaching practices and materials: do they decrease or increase the gap in the study success of different groups of students? How can the university start rewarding equity-minded teachers? We intend to bring some of these tools for self-enquiry to Leiden University.

The importance of leadership

Peter Slort, responsible for diversity at the Dutch National Police, spoke about how diversity recruiters, dialogues, training, role models and networks are used as instruments to make police teams more diverse and inclusive. He explored the efforts being made by the national police to become more diverse and inclusive. He also insisted on the need for leadership, showing an inspiring film on a courageous leader at the U.S. Air Force Academy  who made it very clear to his students that racism will absolutely not be tolerated. Slort: ‘A non-inclusive workplace is the Lonely Planet guide book to the exit for your biggest talents and your change agents.’

‘Diversity and Inclusion Policy’ film

The Diversity Office asked students and staff  what is good about the university’s policy and what can be improved and made a film. It gives a good impression and stresses the importance of feeling at home at the university, and how this can lead to top performance. What is also needed is equality between men and women, awareness of biases, a diverse student population, an inclusive teaching and working environment and  role models.  A panel of deans gave their reaction to the film.

Address deep-seated bias

If we want our diversity, equity, and inclusion policy to succeed, we need to continue addressing the deep-seated bias about whiteness (as superior), gender, and sexuality. We need to change the institutional practices that perpetuate this bias. A range of workshops did exactly that.

The work ahead!

It was great to see that our inclusion and equity-minded community is increasing, both in numbers and in enthusiasm. The Diversity Office will continue to engage all students, staff, and faculty at our university and will work together with them to make further steps forward in our diversity, equity  and inclusiveness policy. We are looking forward to see you at meetings in 2018!

Launch Sophia Women's Network

Leiden University has a new network for female academics: Sophia. Sophia strives for equal opportunities and a better working environment for female academic staff.

Read more
Sustainable Business Battle wins Van Bergen Prize

The Sustainable Business Battle was launched less than a year ago, but it has already won several prizes. Last week, the organisers received the Green Trophy and now they can also add the Van Bergen Prize to their awards.

Read more
See also
Video impression Diversity Symposium
Diversity Policy Feedback Group is looking for new members
Teachers' tales: On the road to inclusive teaching
‘We are most attracted to people who are like us’
Two good agents could replace two mobile units
Leiden has highest percentage female first year students Physics & Astronomy
Female Researchers in the Spotlight for Physics Ladies Day
16 April: Training Inclusive Education - reaching all your students 
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