The Dutch National Human Rights Institute has established that The Hague University of Applied Sciences has disadvantaged staff members with a non-Dutch background by imposing a strict language requirement in an internal vacancy. With this message, we would like to let you know how we have learned from this and what improvements we are implementing in consultation with the affected colleagues.
The complaint was prompted by a language requirement in an internal vacancy announcement for a Senior Lecturer at International Public Management (IPM). Despite the fact that this degree programme's language of instruction is English, one of the job requirements was an excellent command of the Dutch language. This was because of its close connection with the Dutch-language degree programme in Public Administration/Government Management (BO). After staff members expressed their dissatisfaction about this, THUAS announced by email that the language requirement would no longer be a hard requirement and that applicants would be offered the opportunity to develop in this area. However, the requirement was not removed from the vacancy announcement, which eventually resulted in a complaint being filed. The Dutch National Human Rights Institute ruled that staff members with a non-Dutch background were indeed unfairly disadvantaged by this requirement, because their command of the Dutch language may not be excellent.
We have taken the ruling of the Dutch National Human Rights Institute to heart. As an inclusive university of applied sciences, we want to do everything possible to prevent any form of exclusion. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case here. We offer our sincere apologies for this.
Points for improvement
We discussed with the staff members who filed the complaint that we would take the following actions together:
- The internal recruitment and selection manual already contains a reference to the instructions of the Dutch National Human Rights Institute. We will request an update of these instructions from the Board and include these in the manual so that the proportionality of language requirements is clear when consulting templates for vacancies;
- This point will explicitly be included in the update of the current Recruitment and Selection Policy. This update is scheduled for the coming academic year.
We have also found that the internal complaints procedures regarding recruitment and selection are not sufficiently known. Therefore, we will make our Recruitment Code of Conduct easier to find and will further promote the information.
Our vision document describes THUAS as an inclusive community, with equal opportunities for all. We explicitly take a stand against discrimination and actively work towards a climate of zero tolerance and an environment in which any experienced discrimination can be discussed.
However, sometimes we are also confronted with 'unconscious or deliberate incompetence' in this area, which presents us with a structural and joint challenge. That is why we are actively working on inclusive education and research, inclusive HR policies and inclusive business practices in different areas. We have already taken several steps in this area, such as participation policies for people who have been out of the labour market, a focus on inclusion in trainee programmes, the gender equality plan, supporting initiatives such as Purple Friday and research within our Inclusive Education research group. We will continue to do so and invite everyone to think along with us.