How to attract diverse talent with your office ethics. Manners at the office, what is the most frequently mentioned annoyance by women? That terrible moment when someone wants to congratulate you and disgusting behavior at an office drink. The main issue is the (physical) contact with colleagues in which the person does not respect privacy of others.

I also experienced it myself. A colleague thought I was so special. An exotic woman with smooth hair. Yes, it sounds so ridiculous and yet it happens so often. It often starts with the remark “but you are so different, so exotic” and continues with the question “can I touch your hair?” One can explain it as a healthy dose of curiosity (which is very Dutch, by the way), the other (especially the receiving party) will experience it as impolite and unnecessary. No, I’m not exotic. I am born and raised in Rotterdam. Yes, there are MANY people of color with smooth hair. These comments and questions are experienced by me (and many others women) as impolite, unnecessary and tiring. As the artist India Ari says: I am not my hair (and also not my appearance).

I am curious about who has experienced this as well? In addition to my own experience I will give 2 additional examples:

  1. The one colleague who has too much to drink at the office party

Often a male colleague (women also do this by the way) who drinks too much during a company drink. Doesn’t understand personal boundaries. Wandering hands, trying to kiss you, provocatively dancing, seeking unnecessary physical contact accompanied with statements that would insinuate something else (often sexually ambiguous).

  1. Congratulations on your birthday / best wishes

That one colleague who immediately sees the possibility of physical contact. A simple verbal congratulations or New Year’s greeting is not enough. The handshake and kissing is what this colleague is after. And if you think a handshake is normal: no, in some cultures a handshake is not normal and it is still a personal preference.


Tips for employers to attract diverse talent with their office ethics

  • Too often an employer displays their company culture from a recruitment perspective and not from reality. Good research is needed to understand your real company culture. Start conversations with your employees and get a realistic view of the current company culture. If this is the desirable culture, nothing additional is needed. Make sure to be very open and transparent about this and accept that you will also attract this type of applicants who find it pleasant to work in such a company culture;
  • give diverse talent the space to get to know you. Take the time in the procedures and get to know people. Organize in-house days and follow-up days and give room to get to know each other better;
  • if you want to change your company culture, a development plan can be set up to work towards the desired company culture. Make sure to communicate about this as well. As an company you are developing and you are transparent in expectations. This is often the most important thing in attracting diverse talent. Being transparent about company culture, expectations and the development process gives you a head start in attracting diverse talent.

Tips for employees to find the right match in company culture

  • My advice to employees who recognize my examples is to be transparent about your boundaries and expectations. If the other person does not respect this, talk to the person about this. Of their behavior remains unchanged, escalate. If the escalation is ineffective, make up your mind whether you still want to work there. There are plenty of other suitable companies who will welcome your wishes and talents;
  • investigate what your wishes are and which company (cultures) are a fit. Experiment in applying for jobs, go do that interview, visit in-house days. Take your time. Do you have a top 3? If necessary, ask if it is possible to be present for a few days at the company and talk to various employees. You will develop a better view of the company culture and you can develop your own opinion and decide whether or not you want to continue in the procedure for the open job position.
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