Agile Kitchen: Inclusion in tech – a small recap of our session with Breaking the Silos

Agile Kitchen: Inclusion in tech – a small recap of our session with Breaking the Silos

Agile Kitchen: Inclusion in tech – a small recap of our session with Breaking the Silos

On Tuesday 28th of February, our Agile Kitchen opened its doors again for another evening filled with countless insights.

For this session, at Spoor 18 in Mechelen, we teamed up with Breaking the Silos for an Agile Kitchen session on ‘Inclusion in the tech sector’.

Did you miss out on the session or do you want to have a quick refresh of this session? Well, here is a small recap of the evening!

We had around 50 attendees, which is a good indication that this topic is somewhat emotionally charged and that many people relate to it and want to learn more about it.

First off, our own Kris and Daphne from Breaking the Silos kicked off the evening by announcing the topic of the evening: inclusion. What is it about? What can you do? Let us inspire you.

More women in tech

Our first speaker, Rein Meirte from Clusity (a community of women in tech that provides inspiring stories, events, and career opportunities) took the stage with a compelling explanation as to why there are so few women in tech, despite females making up 51% of the world’s population.

Rein delved into the impact of unconscious biases and social effects while emphasizing why diversity is crucial. Why should we work on diversity in tech? Because it, among others, positively affects your ROI, because more diverse teams have:

  • 19% higher revenues from innovation (BCG)
  • 8x better business results (Deloitte)
  • 35% better financial performance (McKinsey)

So what can we do? Although most people are convinced that we should value diversity, only one-third of organizations actively take action on it.

Rein gave some practical tips to get started:

  • Communicate about what is already there.
  • Doing something is always better than doing nothing
  • Listen closer to minorities in the company
  • Review your equality (treated equally) versus equity process (put people in their strengths)
  • Actively network, attend events, and talk to people that are different from you!

The future of work

Next up was Khadija Rejdy from UPOP, an organization that helps creating work places where people can be themselves.

She provided an engaging talk on how to decipher the future of work, highlighting the importance of humanizing businesses to cater to the expectations of various stakeholders such as customers, partners, and employees.

The future starts now! Since covid many things changed, work-life balance became work-life integration and we are more and more aware that work will never be the same in our world that is becoming more and more VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous).

According to Khadija, it is time to reinvent our experiences:

  1. Employee experience: employees seek meaning. When you add meaning, people will go the extra mile
  2. Brand experience: changing our business model in general and ask the question ‘how can we help society by doing what we do?’
  3. Customer experience: looking at it from different perspectives, e.g. crash tests also based on the physique of women

Khadija then provided some actionable tips on how to become a “human business.”

She concluded by stating that being inclusive means listening to your people. Start with inclusion, then look for diversity. That way, diverse people who enter will feel more at home.

Make your recruitment processes more inclusive!

It is about creating the context for every single employee to be able to be themselves

Inclusion from the start

After that, Nele Van Beveren shared her personal journey, as one of the few female software engineering students in her class, and how role models, active encouragement, and initiatives like CoderDojo and Dwengo can make a significant difference in diversifying future tech companies.

Nele is the founder of WeGoStem, an initiative to kindle enthusiasm for computer sciences in children with a 50/50 ratio of boys and girls and 30% of people from minority groups. Their goal is to show what computer science can do in a variety of domains of our lives and also to offer role models for all interested in computer science, no matter their gender, background, … Because “you can’t be what you can’t see’.

Start with listening

Last but not least, Matthias Nauwelaers Talent Business Partner at imec (with a workforce of over 95 nationalities) discussed how his organization has been making efforts in becoming more inclusive. He shared some of the successes and challenges they’ve encountered and continue to face, in a refreshingly honest and open manner.

Their corporate values are integrity, connectedness, passion and excellence and their efforts to become more inclusive are part of a larger employee well-being program.

He is convinced that you can really connect by really listening.

He gave some practical approaches they have been implementing at imec, such as KPI’s related to Sustainable Development Goals (% of women in R&D, % of women in leadership, …) and explained how they incorporate their efforts throughout all their processes.

imec aims to continuously keep improving :

  • With action planning
  • With grassroots taskforces to project-driven Employee Resource Groups (because just doing it on top does not work)
  • By aiming to evolve from awareness to competency
  • By doubling down on more inclusive processes
  • By continuously listening and responding

To conclude this recap, we would like to share some last useful insights on the topic:

Diversity is the “what” whilst inclusion is the “how.”

Diversity focuses on the makeup of your workforce — demographics such as gender, race/ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, …

Inclusion is a measure of culture that enables diversity to thrive. It is important to hire for diversity. However, if you haven’t built the culture to make these new hires thrive, you might not be able to keep these diverse new hires.


Biases such as the similarity biases (i.e. the tendency to like and trust people who are similar to ourselves more quickly) make it hard to change diversity: a male, white leadership team will – unconsciously – favour male, white people.

Kris and Daphné concluded this session by thanking all speakers and attendees.

To be able to fully take in all these insights, the provided refreshments offered welcome food for thought and body! And the high number of attendees allowed for great networking opportunities.

We would like to thank Patrick, Leon, Dietrich, and Daphné from Breaking the Silos, our 4 speakers, and all 50 attendees for this interesting session.

Are you eager for more on all things Agile? Check out our Agile Kitchen calendar and don’t forget to register for our next session.

We can’t wait to see you there!

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