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Standing against racism - Black Pete statement

At Arcadis, like many global organizations, we are on a continuous journey towards becoming a more diverse and inclusive company. Last week, when I launched our 2021-2023 strategy, I expressed that our aim over the next three years is to introduce other targets that create a diverse, inclusive company where all Arcadians feel like they truly belong.

In this moment, I would like to reaffirm our commitment as a company that stands against racism and all other forms of discrimination. We strive to create a work environment where all Arcadians are treated with fairness and where every employee is safe to come to work and empowered to be themselves and achieve their goals. We are also committed to integrating this ethic in our work with clients and within communities. We are developing a companywide, training module on inclusion, as one of our key cultural pillars, as part of our new strategy.

A crucial step in our journey

We feel that it’s particularly important that we learn from past mistakes, continue to broaden our understanding of what our values mean and assess our progress in becoming more inclusive and integrating diversity. We realize that we have not always gotten this right. One of these areas, as an example, has been the Sinterklaas celebrations in some of our European offices which has in the past incorporated the role of Black Pete. 

I want to be clear that the role of Black Pete in these celebrations does not align with our commitment to stand up against racism and for inclusion. This is why we have made changes to remove this inappropriate caricature from our Sinterklaas celebrations. Instead, with the support of Gert Kroon (CEO, The Netherlands) and Kristof Peperstraete (CEO, Belgium), we are encouraging sharing, learning, and insights with each other to better understand perspectives of all colleagues.

The power of listening and sharing perspectives 

The response from fellow Arcadians to date on my statement standing up for equality and against racism (3 June 2020) has been powerful. Many have shared personal experiences and perspectives, which has been essential in helping us build a better understanding of and appreciation for each other – leading to this particular action. 
As a result of consulting with our people, we will be appointing a Global Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging leader who is charged with realizing our diversity, inclusion and belonging strategy.

This leader will be tasked with creating a clear global governance structure aligned to five global affinity groups, each led by an Executive Leadership Team member, under my global leadership. This will ensure focus and alignment on our diversity, inclusion, and belonging strategy and its implementation in policies, guidelines, and targets. Our initiatives such as our #ProudToBeMe, International Women’s Day and our mental health & wellbeing programs will also be anchored in this structure.
These steps are an important part of how we continue to pursue our passion for improving quality of life. 

Yours Sincerely,

Peter Oosterveer
Global CEO, Arcadis

Gert Kroon
CEO Netherlands, Arcadis

Kristof Peperstraete
CEO Belgium, Arcadis


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