In 2022, she took on the role of Executive Director Strategy, Insights & Digital Transformation, and as of June 2023, Fleur van Beem has also been the executive sponsor of Queers Connected, VodafoneZiggo's internal LGBTIQ+ network. A perfect time for a talk about her time at VodafoneZiggo, her activist vision of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, and her special connection with the queer community.

No longer tolerating nonsense
Fleur talks about her transition to VodafoneZiggo: "After seventeen years at Bain Strategy Consulting, it was time for a change. My primary motivation was the need for change to continue growing and exploring different aspects of my leadership. The match with VodafoneZiggo was not only because I had worked on many projects in the telecom sector as a consultant. In the initial conversations, I noticed an intrinsic commitment from the company to diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI&I) - an absolute requirement for me to connect with an organization. As a society and as individuals, we have progressed too far to tolerate nonsense in this regard any longer."

Passionate activist
Fleur's dedication to this topic didn't come out of nowhere. She says, "I used to work in a male-dominated culture, which made me become activist and passionate about this cause. For me, DE&I is not a business consideration; it's a fundamental right for everyone to hold equal positions. Inclusion, connectedness, and authenticity are paramount here.

Unfortunately, it still feels like you're allowed to be yourself. I would approach it differently. Being yourself should be a prerequisite for success."

Taking action for diversity
VodafoneZiggo aims to be a good reflection of society. To understand where things are going well and, more importantly, where the organization can improve, they conduct an annual DE&I survey. "83% of colleagues say they can be themselves, and 78% say they feel at home. It's a good result. However, the answers also show that there are still people who don't experience equal opportunities. We really need to do something about that. In 2022, we adjusted the hiring policies in various business units to influence the gender balance. Employees also enhanced their skills and knowledge through training, such as psychological safety."

"It's great that at VodafoneZiggo, we don't have a top-down culture with the message 'You must...', but instead, we say, 'What are you going to do to implement DE&I improvements?'. This way, we truly empower the department.” Fleur's ultimate goal for the organization is to be a true reflection of society.

DE&I is like a dance party
According to Fleur, quotas are necessary to make a difference: "Quotas may not be popular, but they are needed to accelerate change. We all have biases. Subconsciously, you maintain the status quo while claiming to be inclusive. I always compare it to a samba dancer who has been invited to a tango party. Once there, you say you won't dance the tango but will stick to the samba. People offer to teach you the tango, but you want to keep dancing the samba, which doesn't fit their music. So, you're asking the tango dancers to change what they're used to, which is painful. The solution is to play music suitable for both dances, allowing authenticity. Quotas, uncomfortable as they may be, can truly change the DE&I dynamics.

Bring your significant self
Fleur is heterosexual herself but has a special bond with the queer community. "I witnessed up close how difficult it was for my sister to openly come out as gay at the age of thirty. Together with her, I embarked on the journey into this new world. It was beautiful but also challenging for her. As a result, I experienced how difficult it can be to bring your 'full self' with you wherever you go. Combined with my passion for DE&I, I feel very connected to the community."

Fleur emphasizes the importance of LGBTIQ+ representation in senior management and says, "As long as there's no one from the community in the senior leadership team, I'm happy to be advised by Queers Connected. Our employee network, together with the DE&I team, works hard to create a positive working environment for queer colleagues and an inclusive society. They ensure that DE&I ambitions at VodafoneZiggo are not just empty words but sincere actions. This for example includes implementing the right leave policies and introducing gender-neutral restrooms in our offices. Additionally, it's important that we promote an open culture, so we focus on internal and external awareness and visibility. As the main partner, we are closely involved in the organization of Pride Utrecht, hold internal workshops, and ensure inclusive brand communications."

In response to the final question about why Fleur thinks it's important to be involved as an executive sponsor of Queers Connected, she replies, "Unfortunately, heterosexuality is still often seen as the norm. Queers Connected breaks through this heteronormativity, offers a fresh perspective on policy matters, and is determined to promote the representation and acceptance of queer colleagues. As an SLT sponsor, I fully support this mission. Being yourself in all your glory strengthens our organization in every way."