Be Bold. Be Courageous: Shaping ‘The Future We Choose’

Omar Badawy (He/Him) introduces the People of Colour (PoC) Community during the conference.

On Friday, June 14, 2024, The Hague, Netherlands, hosted the highly anticipated 2024 International Conference “The Future We Choose: Practical Steps and Global Perspectives.” With over 300 delegates, 22 hours of content, 14 breakouts, and countless hours of networking, this conference marked one of the past year’s most successful and meticulously planned events.

The conference was a convergence of voices, ideas, and unwavering commitment to shaping a more inclusive future. Highlights included:

  • The launch of the new People of Colour community.
  • The welcoming of new Advisory Board member Lisa van Ginneken.
  • The creation of a dedicated quiet zone for delegates to recharge.
Rob Jetten (He/Him), Minister for Climate and Energy and Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands, delivers his keynote address.

Executive Director of Workplace Pride, David Pollard encapsulated the conference’s spirit, saying, “Our community is incredibly diverse and wonderful. We can achieve great things, but finding balance is required. We must listen to all perspectives and strive for a middle ground. Today, we are actively shaping our future. This is The Future We Choose.”

The conference buzzed with energy and purpose, drawing diverse participants from business, government, and civil society. It catalysed change, fostering connections and igniting ideas with the potential to ripple far beyond the conference walls. Keynote addresses by leaders such as Rob Jetten: Minister for Climate and Energy / Deputy Prime Minister of The Netherlands,  highlighted the challenges and triumphs of LGBTIQ+ inclusion, sharing personal stories that underscored the need for courage and empowerment.

Siobhán Martin, PhD, Global Executive, NED, & Driver of Cultural Change, at Aegon emphasised, the importance of securing sponsorship at the highest levels and promoting active allyship. “Be Bold. Be Courageous,” she urged, advocating for efforts that go beyond the status quo to push boundaries and foster true equity and belonging for everyone.

Pictured left to right: Michiel Kolman (He/Him), Siri Nomme (She/Her), H.E. Ambassador Asi Mamanee (He/Him), Margot Slattery (She/Her), and Boris Dittrich (He/Him) during the panel discussion “The Challenging Global Landscape: Public & Private Sector in the Crosshairs.”

The first-panel discussion, led by Michiel Kolman, Co-Chair of Workplace Pride, titled “The Challenging Global Landscape: Public & Private Sector in the Crosshairs,” featured lively debates and reflections on significant milestones, such as the 9th anniversary of marriage equality in Ireland and Thailand’s commitment to LGBTIQ+ rights. Thailand’s example was highlighted as a potential model for other Asian countries to follow.

Throughout the day, 14 breakout sessions explored topics such as Rainbow Washing, Transgender Inclusion & Safety in the Workplace, Impactful Strategies for Bi+ Inclusion at Work, Neurodiversity in Pride, creating environments where diversity and inclusion are living values, and the importance of bold leadership. Rachel Solway, Chief HR & Corporate Officer at Shell, highlighted the importance of addressing invisible barriers to achieving true workplace inclusion. Her message resonated deeply, underscoring the necessity for workplaces and multinationals to stand together and learn from each other to foster a genuinely inclusive environment.

Workplace Pride launched the People of Colour community, spearheaded by Christine Holtkamp, Director of Communities at Workplace Pride, and Omar Badawy, Relationship Manager at Workplace Pride. The new community leaders, Tamer Zikry from CSC and Dr. Ajay Jagadeesh from TU Delft, outlined their goals and expressed their enthusiasm for their first event. Omar, reflecting on his journey, emphasised the importance of creating a safe space for discussions on race and ethnicity, addressing issues like racism and ethnic profiling.

This year’s conference also saw a shift in how speakers and moderators were appreciated. Instead of traditional gifts, David Pollard presented a generous donation from Workplace Pride to Edith Molemans and Frank Aalderinks from the Give a Damn Foundation which supports LGBTIQ+ organisations worldwide.

As the conference drew to a close, reflections echoed through the main plenary room. Conversations about self-identification and the business case for diversity were punctuated by introspection. The Quiet Zone, a new addition this year, offered a sanctuary for those needing a break from the vibrant atmosphere, showcasing Workplace Pride’s commitment to inclusivity.

Lisa van Ginneken (She/Her) Advisory Board Member, Moderates her Breakout on ‘Transgender Inclusion & Safety in the Workplace’  during the Workplace Pride Conference.

With over 3 billion people expected to vote in 2024 and 2025, the future holds significant potential for change. The conference emphasised the importance of resilience and collective effort in shaping The Future We Choose—a future where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.Thank you, Ikenna Azuike, for moderating the conference and to the staff, board, volunteers, and everyone who attended. We look forward to seeing you next year. For now, feel free to browse through the photos and recap the full opening and closing plenaries available online. See you next year!