Orphans manufactured to meet demands of Western volunteers

African countries are popular destinations for tourists and travellers to engage in volunteer work, appearing regularly on the bucket lists of people interested in development work. This could be through financial support, or travelling to the country to make a well-intended impact on the local community... Read more

Feminism is not a dirty word

I often ask people: do you believe in equal rights for all people? Do you believe it is unfair that women cannot choose ‒ without being judged ‒ what to do with their bodies? Do you support sexist comments and jokes at the office? Do you think your mom deserves the same salary as your father for equal work? Most people I speak to (but not all, sadly) answer ‘yes’. So I tell them: "Then you are a feminist! Congratulations!"... Read more

Communication with Power and Impact blog #1: Meetings

No meeting takes place in a vacuum. Most of the time, the players in a meeting already know each other. Someone asked for the meeting. Someone has an objective in holding the meeting – some objectives may be transparent and others hidden. Before you head into a meeting, ask yourself... Read More

Dianne's Battle Royale 5. So, whats for breakfast?

My initial intention for this blog entry was to focus exclusively on patience but then, a little over a week ago, my younger sister passed away unexpectedly. So, this blog may go in several directions.

When we were together in November, my sister asked me what I had learned about being a cancer patient and about dealing with the uncertainty I was facing after the failed experimental treatment I had been on for some four months. Strangely an easy questions to answer. I have learned to be patient but not to be a patient! The patience I learned is not the patience required to mindlessly wait for some casual event or activity, but rather patience of the gut wrenching, stress inducing, forced variety. The patience needed to wait for results, wait for treatment plans, wait for surgery, wait to see the doctor, wait for information, and wait to see if you have been approved for yet another trial. Though, I must add I have a brilliant, caring oncologist... Read More

Why I would avoid telling my daughter she is a beautiful princess

A friend recently wrote a poem for her children as part of the Dutch Sinterklaas tradition. It was very personal and touching but there was one aspect I wasn’t comfortable with, and I wasn’t sure if it was right for me to bring it up. The siblings are a four-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl. I told her the poems were great but it still didn’t feel right to ignore what I thought was an elephant in the room. Here’s why... Read More 



Dianne’s Battle Royale - Small things small moments

Many of us face challenges at some point in our lives and sometimes there is very little we can do to change the outcome. I am in this situation at the moment and let me add, it is more than scary. I always want to be in control and now there is no control. The only thing I can do is constantly remind myself that  “I” am not cancer.  Initially I wanted to hide my illness, pretend (mainly) to myself and to others that nothing was wrong with me or with my health. Soon I realized, we all face adversity at some point in our lives and if I share my experiences, and accept help (very difficult), it might make the road I am walking on a little more bearable. Read More

ECWO and friends: 10 questions with Izabela Csontos, ING Bank

The financial sector in both Eastern Europe and the Nordics is characterised by a strong presence of women in senior roles – but this is not the case in the Netherlands. That’s why shortly after joining ING Bank in 2013, I started to conduct some research into this topic. It became more apparent to me that in financial sector as a whole, women in many countries struggle to get to senior management level. What struck me was the fact that in the Netherlands women actually hit the glass ceiling even before reaching middle management... Read More

Dianne’s Battle Royale – Actor or observer

Good news!!  I had a scan last week and the doctors are confident that the medication is working and everything looks stable.  This means I continue on both the gene therapy and the immunology for another two months then they test again. I am also happy to hear that I no longer need to go to hospital every week but now only monthly... Read More  

How working for ECWO has given me a different perspective on gender roles

The Netherlands is often seen from the outside as a very progressive country, and that’s true when you look at the bigger picture. However I believe there is room for improvement in some areas, for instance in the affirmation of gender stereotypes... Read More

Dianne’ Battle Royale: Rich Life, Imperfect Past!

Most of us that have lived full lives, have made choices that have benefited ourselves and have benefited others. However, with hindsight some of our actions and decisions have turned out to be less wise but it is a combination of wise and the unwise action that's makes life so wonderful and colourful. And, when something negative happens to us or when we find ourselves in a difficult situation, we should not paralyze ourselves by presuming our past should be perfect... Read More

Dianne’s Battle Royale: Living, Leading and Loving - with Cancer

In spite of living with cancer for over twenty years, no treatment so far has stopped me from doing all the things I love and I love so much! I love being with family and friends, traveling the world and of course my work. I love my job and I love the fact that I am helping women change their lives and companies change their gender paradigm... Read More

How unconscious bias is preventing women from reaching the top

But can women really lead?
I was asked this question by a very close male friend of mine. To be frank I was quite shocked to hear such a question in 2016. Before answering I took a moment to reflect on what could possibly be the background of this question. I came to the conclusion that it was not such an odd question after all, because “what you see is all there is”. There are still very few female leaders, and society still considers leadership as something that belongs to men because of the simple fact that there are not many women in top positions... Read More

The more diverse the composition of a promotion or hiring committee, the more diversity they will produce

The way women are perceived in a professional environment is different than the way men are perceived. This is crucial for women to realise. Once you are aware of this, you will be able to influence how business partners respond to you. That doesn’t, however, mean that women have to deny who they truly are. This was one of the takeaways I got from Erasmus Centre for Women and Organisation’s (ECWO) programmes... Read More

We must be willing to constantly question our own individual explicit or implicit biases

By the time I was a teenager, I was keenly aware of another difference but one I would not reveal to others until I was in my early twenties – my sexual orientation. Originally, I identified as a lesbian because it was one of very few terms available to me in a pre-internet era. Now in my late forties, I am much more aware of the fluidity of all of these categories and feel less desperate to put a label to whom I am. Some days, I identify as queer, other days as gender queer, and still other days as transgender...  Read More

It's better to create something that others criticise than to create nothing and criticise others

I remain convinced that it is up to us as women to drive the needed transformation. We need to work together and support one another energetically if we are to accelerate the transformation to a more gender balanced working environment and broader society... Read More

Diversity Policies Articulated

“If I prepared a policy document for the entire organisation around diversity broadly and gender specifically, what key elements should it include? What would you find helpful in moving our collective agenda forward?” ...Read More 

I want to thank Marissa Mayers

No, not because I agree with her! I am sure that I don’t! Even if I could afford it, I would not choose to return to work two weeks after giving birth and I certainly expect the organization I work for to support my decision not to—for moral rather than purely legal reasons! Rather, I thank Marissa Mayers for her choice and her announcement because... Read More

Being Mindful: The Choice is Yours

People exercise their leadership in different ways. Whatever ones natural behaviour and styles, leading in a more mindful manner helps improve social interactions and enables greater individual and organisational effectiveness. Being mindful and fully present in your interactions with staff members increases their... Read More

Challenges for Women .... and Men .... in Business

On Monday 23 September, as part of the Women in Leadership Open Programme, the RSM MBA Women in Management Club organised a workshop with three speakers to investigate issues surrounding women in business. The presenters not only looked at the subject from a woman’s point of view, but also considered these matters from a man’s perspective... Read More

Ready, Set, Go!

I was very happy and satisfied to see that we started the EMBA with a Women in Leadership day where issues about gender gap and competition amongst women were addressed. This is such an important topic, it’s like “the big elephant in the room” that some do not want to address... Read More

Only if You Believe it is!

Where are our role models? It has been estimated that only eleven percent of senior management positions in large publicly listed companies across twenty-seven states in the European Union are women. This sad state of affairs means there are few female role models in the business arena that can inspire others to follow suite... Read More

My EMBA Journey so Far

I attended the Gender Balanced Leadership Workshop hosted by Dianne Bevelander. It was a workshop for all the women in the various MBA classes and it was a very powerful and insightful event. We learned about how to empower others because when we make others powerful, we ourselves become more powerful. My take home lesson for the day... Read More

Why is gender-balanced leadership important?

"Men are usually more focused and competitive, and have created a command and control hierarchy to get things done efficiently. Gross generalisations aside, women are better at seeing things in context, looking at the long term and caring for others. These two complementary skill sets would be ideal together – provided they're in balance."  ...Read more

Gender diversity in medicine: the long and winding road

For a long time, the lack of medical career advancement has been attributed to the women themselves: they would rather stay at home and take care of the kids, and at the most only want to work part-time, not wanting to invest sufficiently in their career. These arguments were offered to me many times by chairs of clinical departments during debates on the topic in my own institution: these women simply do not want a high position in medicine. But were the arguments of these department chairs based on observation, or on their perception of the problem? ...Read more

The River

Dear ECWO Readers,

Events that have happened to us in the past and the feelings we carry about these past events can impact our state of mind, our actions, and even our health. Yet many of us carry emotional baggage with us for days, weeks and even years without being conscious of this truism. Last month I addressed a group of women and asked them if they would share an event from their past... Read More