Friday , August 6 2021

Dutch health agencies are still not diverse

RTL Nieuws examined the boards of directors of 74 hospitals and 26 nursing home and home care organizations. This shows that all the officials, except for one, do not have an ethnic background other than the Dutch.

“Very little,” said Tamara van Ark, Minister of Medical Care and Sports. “This is important to be a topic of discussion in health institutions.”


“Everybody seems to think it’s completely normal, but it’s really not normal,” said Marcel Levi, CEO of University College London Hospital and former chairman of AMC. “The people you work with in the health care field are mixed. You want to see that reflected on the board.”

If that doesn’t happen, according to Levi, you are depriving staff and patients. “Because of subtle or specific problems that play a role in certain population groups.”

More color at the top

Annemaria Sherwood is a nursing specialist in training (master’s degree in elderly care). He has worked in the health sector since 2003. During his training he was in a class with 30 students. He is the only one with a different cultural background.

“If you’re in the minority, when it comes to color, you don’t dare to be yourself. You feel that it’s 29 to 1 when it comes to pure colors.” However, he will not stop learning and sharing his knowledge.

Sherwood wants to see more people appear taller with color. “It can also attract other people.” Apart from that, according to him, it is also important because of the aging population. “We need extra care personnel for that. If you can only get one group, because the others are afraid of racism and discrimination, I don’t think that’s possible.”

The results of the Nieuws RTL inventory are not surprising, said Wouter Koolmees, Minister of Social Affairs and Manpower. “We see it more often in the Dutch economic sector.”

Policymakers saw it, Koolmees said, and wanted to do something about it, but the process was taking a long time. “It has to do with training and offering opportunities for talent. Often board members are also elected for four to five years.”

Enough opportunities?

Koolmees: “It’s always been the question above: is the talent missing or do people not get the chance to show themselves and prove themselves? I think the latter happens more often. People should be given more opportunities and seize those opportunities.”

How do we research it?

Research on cultural diversity in health institutions is in two parts. First of all, we looked at the composition of the board of directors. We also look at the diversity policy in our annual reports: how often is cultural diversity mentioned and in what ways?

Board of directors

  • In the study, we looked at 74 major hospitals and 27 nursing homes, 26 of which worked closely with home care providers.
  • Together they have 232 board members.
  • One of the committee members has a different ethnic background. That means 0.43 percent.

  • In the area of ​​male / female diversity, health institutions are above average. The top includes 93 women (40 percent). That is much higher than the listed companies. There it is percentage of 12 percent.

Annual report

  • 71 annual reports reviewed. It was checked whether the hospital said anything about (ethnicity) diversity in their policies.
  • 6 hospitals mentioned cultural diversity in their reports.
  • 1 hospital specifically appointed this to the board.

Community reflection

The health care sector organizations of the Dutch Hospitals Association (NVZ) and ActiZ support community reflection. “Anyone can always apply for a hospital board position,” said NVZ. ActiZ: “We applaud when ethnic diversity is also added to the diverse care palette.”

The FNV union saw the results as problematic, but at the same time pointed out that this is a difficult subject. “If you want to measure ethnicity, you have to register by ancestry. That’s difficult because of privacy laws,” said vice president Kitty Jong.

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