Q&A With Antoinet Van Dalen On How HR Departments Can Support Women’s Day

Q&A by Rossina Gitto, Founder @ The Humans of HR, March 2021

As everyone into the topic of Gender Equality knows, March 8th 2021 is Women’s Day. This annual event is dedicated to spreading awareness about gender equality and women’s rights around the globe, and as every Human of HR knows, it’s a great day to reflect on the issues women have faced throughout history in the world of work.

We had recently spoken to Antoinet Van Dalen, Founder of Fireside, on how we are supporting women’s employment and about the importance of Digital Entrepreneurship in times of Covid-19 (click here to access the interview). Knowing she is an advocate for Gender Equality in European workplaces, we thought we would catch up with her again and ask her how Human Resources Departments around the world should support women at work on March 8th (and beyond) after a turbulent year for gender equality. Read the following Q&A to find out how you can take action.


Tell us more about yourself…

My name is Antoinet Van Dalen. I am a Customer Success Manager at Talentsoft and the Founder & President of Fireside, an European solutions-based non-profit for gender balance in the workplace with a focus on the Tech sector.


How did you become interested in the topic of gender equality?

It was my mother who told me when I was young never to leave the workplace entirely to take care of my children and become a stay-at-home mom. My mom left her career in the banking sector to take care of me and my sister full-time and found it hard to re-enter the workforce years later. At the time in the 80’s, it was completely normal for a woman of middle-class in The Netherlands to stop working when having children. It is something that I cannot imagine today but it is not that long ago and fortunately things changed since then. I believe that what she taught me was the very starting point of becoming interested in gender equality at work. I actually experienced inequality myself when I entered the workforce for the first time. 


What made you take the decision to start a non-profit for gender equality in Europe?

In 2014 I attended a meeting about gender inequality at work at Google which was an eye-opener for me. Before that meeting, I never really thought about gender inequality as an obstacle and thought feminism was something outdated and old-fashioned that mattered to an older generation. When I discovered at Google that gender inequality was still very much here today, I immediately wanted to take action and have been involved ever since. I created Fireside, a non-profit for gender balance at work the same year. We organize initiatives with companies, the job market and women with the aim to work towards a gender balanced workplace.


As an advocate for gender equality, can you tell us your thoughts on what the upcoming Women’s Day on March 8th means to you? 

This year is extra special because of Covid19. It is exactly one year ago since the first severe lockdowns in Europe and we see the effects it had on women at work. The McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2020 Report (Coury, Sarah, et al., 2020) shows the first effects and future risks that the crisis is having on women at work and it is not over as of yet.

The Covid crisis shows once more that women should never take gender equality in the workplace (and women’s rights in general) for granted. A crisis can change our well-being, freedoms and position at work quickly ; we should all be aware of this, take action where needed and support each other. This should be the message for this year’s Women’s Day I would say.

A crisis can change our well-being, freedoms and position at work quickly ; we should all be aware of this, take action where needed and support each other. This should be the message for this year’s Women’s Day I would say.


Do you think it’s important for HR Departments to launch women’s day events?

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. I think it is a great moment and starting point for a company to roll-out a gender diversity & inclusion strategy or put the topic under the attention of your employees. HR has an important role to play here and should be the initiator of such events together with top management to be effective.


Have you ever worked at a company that celebrated Women’s Day?

Yes. My company Talentsoft is doing a (gender) diversity & inclusion campaign during the whole month of March and organizing many initiatives in order to make D&I at work a reality. To name a few examples, Talentsoft does video interviews with inspiring women in tech, share infographics on D&I in Tech, creates social media gigs and partners with non-profits like Fireside to attract more women in Tech.


Can you give our readers some advice on different initiatives companies can take for Women’s Day?

Running a campaign covering D&I at work like Talentsoft is a great example. Other initiatives that I am thinking of are…

The company’s focus on gender diversity:

  • A key highlight of women’s day programs could be motivational talks organized by the company’s women employees who have been influential in contributing to the company’s growth and reach.
  • There can be presentations that showcase the company’s achievements in bridging the gender gap at the workplace. This can also be an occasion to highlight the initiatives that the company has taken to increase women’s involvement in the workforce.
  • Other keynote speakers from the industry can be invited to share their views on the current statistics in gender diversity.
  • On this day, the company’s website can run stories of their women leaders. Such inspirational stories of real-life women, whom employees meet and know about, create a very strong impression on the minds of everyone about how change can actually happen.

Launch an initiative under corporate social responsibility for women’s empowerment:

  • In order to highlight its commitment to women employees, the company can launch a program for women’s empowerment under its corporate social responsibility wing. If there are such schemes already in place, they can be evaluated in terms of their outreach and impact on beneficiaries.

Do you believe we will one day stop celebrating Women’s Day?

Good question! According to the World Economic Forum’s Global gender gap report (2020), gender parity will not be attained for 99,5 years. This means that we still have reasons enough to celebrate Women’s day for a long time.


We hope you enjoyed our Women’s Day Q&A with Antoinet Van Dalen, and we also hope you feel inspired to start taking action at work this upcoming March 8th and beyond (we’ve got 99,5 long years to go!).


Q&A by Rossina Gitto, Founder @thehumansofhr
About the Interviewee
About the Interviewee

Antoinet Van Dalen is the Founder of Fireside, a European solutions-based non-profit for gender balance in the workplace. She is also currently a Customer Success Manager at Talentsoft.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of The Humans of HR.


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Your contribution is highly appreciated.

The Humans of HR is a Digital Social Enterprise that is on a mission to humanize the world of work. We aspire to be recognized as a high quality International HR & Business media outlet for a diverse body of professionals from all over the world. Our Magazine currently reaches readers in over 80 counties.

We believe everyone is entitled to have access to professional content that is backed up by relevant sources, as well as the work of the global scientific community, no matter where they come from. That is the reason why we started writing, and also why we will continue to do so. In order to keep growing and keep our content open to our global audience, we would like for you to consider supporting our work.

Your contribution is highly appreciated.

The Humans of HR is a Digital Social Enterprise that is on a mission to humanize the world of work. We aspire to be recognized as a high quality International HR & Business media outlet for a diverse body of professionals from all over the world. Our Magazine currently reaches readers in over 80 counties.

We believe everyone is entitled to have access to professional content that is backed up by relevant sources, as well as the work of the global scientific community, no matter where they come from. That is the reason why we started writing, and also why we will continue to do so. In order to keep growing and keep our content open to our global audience, we would like for you to consider supporting our work.

Your contribution is highly appreciated.

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References


Coury, S., Huang, J., Kumar, A., Prince, Sara , Krivkovich, Alexis , & Yee, L. (2020). Women in the workplace | mckinsey. https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/women-in-the-workplace

World Economic Forum. (2020) Global gender gap report 2020 | world economic forum. Retrieved March 3, 2021, from https://www.weforum.org/reports/gender-gap-2020-report-100-years-pay-equality/

The Humans of HR. (2021, February 8). Fireside talks to the humans of hr’s founder on the importance of digital entrepreneurship | The Humans of HR. https://thehumansofhr.com/2021/02/08/interview-fireside-talks-to-the-humans-of-hrs-founder-on-the-importance-of-digital-entrepreneurship/

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