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Belgium awards diversity labels

Published on 23/03/2007

23 March 2007

BRUSSELS – The federal minister of Social Integration and Equal Opportunity Christian Dupont (PS) and minister for Employment Peter Vanvelthoven (SP.A) awarded the diversity label to ten businesses and organisations on Thursday that the government feels are committed to making their workplaces more diverse.

The ten were selected from a trial project that started in September. A limited number of businesses were guided along the way to being awarded a diversity label. Six months after the start, ten have secured the prize.

The designation for diversity is not insignificant, since just like the “royal warrant,” this label too can be reported on all communication from the organisation.

Without detracting from the honour of the businesses awarded, the initiative did lead to some raised eyebrows in Flanders on Thursday, both in the regional government and the business sector.

Flanders has been working for years with diversity plans, a system in which some 1,500 businesses are now involved. They are not given a label, but they are given a subsidy depending on their achievements with regard to their diversity plan.

The Flemish government says there is an essential difference. Flanders rewards the companies after they have realised their plan, on the basis of quantifiable targets. The federal government gives the label not long after the plans have started.

Minister Dupont recognises that there is some doubling up, but says that Belgium is “a strange country” in that respect. Dupont admits that the labels are granted on the basis of plans that still have to be realised, but also says that past efforts are taken into consideration, and that the label can be revoked after a year.

The government says that the programme is monitored with the utmost seriousness and that 11 private consultants have been hired in by the “Colourful Business” unit of the federal government to conduct the audits of the businesses under consideration for the label.

The federal government plans to launch a campaign to promote the diversity label after the trial projects have been evaluated.

Flemish Emancipation official Ingrid Pelssers fears that businesses and organisations are now more likely to opt to take part in the federal initiative because it can be used as a designation and requires less effort.

The first ten organisations to be awarded the diversity label on Thursday were Sodexho, Randstad, NMBS, the City of Louvain, Ethias, the federal police, Boulot, Age d’Or Services, Crioc and Center Parcs Belgium.

[Copyright Expatica News 2007]

Subject: Belgian news