“The question of whether there are enough suitable women available should never again be asked”

"Make noise and bang the drum"

"The fact that women's progress to the top is lagging behind has a lot to do with perception. The idea still dominates that there are not enough women available for a top position. Stichting Topvrouwen wants to reverse this assumption. What is needed to achieve this? Visibility, above all for the women themselves. The topvrouwen.nl database has the power to persuade companies and board members both that there are sufficient women and that the candidates are of high quality. It must become the most natural thing in the world for companies to place women on longlists for vacancies. Together with my fellow board members and the planners of Topvrouwen.nl, I want to shout, knock and hammer on the doors of all networks and all meetings that we attend in order to draw attention to the existence of this potential."

Progress to the top is too slow for Turkenburg's taste. "You would have to recruit a woman to fill almost every vacancy from now on to reach the overall target of thirty per cent in two years' time. That isn't realistic. I don't feel irritated about it, but I do feel a lot of urgency to focus on the long-term view. If we don't work hard for diversity now, it will take an unnecessarily long time. We have to break habits and create awareness now, because then the mechanism will start running and time will do its work. In that case, a quota won't ultimately be necessary.

There are great examples of companies that have already fully embraced this. They can help us, as well as the rest of the 'the Netherlands Ltd.'. They can share their best practices and inspire others by being a good role model.

I want to call on all potential top women to make themselves known, even if they don't immediately want to enter the transfer market. The power of numbers disproves the claim that women can't be found. Registration is good for your own career, but also for 'the Netherlands Ltd.'. In this way, we can ensure together that the question of whether there are enough talented, ambitious women will never again be asked. Help us to change impressions."

Turkenburg knows from personal experience how difficult it can be to get a foot in the door of the boardroom, as long as it is still a male bastion. She was once the first female partner at Loyens & Loef. "You need someone on a selection committee who'll go into bat for you and who'll take a serious look at your qualities and added value, independent of gender. Otherwise you won't make it."

But obtaining a top position begins with making yourself visible. "You must realise that you're joining an existing game. It's often necessary to bang your drum a bit, as otherwise you'll be drowned out. So ladies: make some 'noise' – by which I mean announce your qualities loud and clear – and wear steel toecaps to get that foot in the door. After that, we can change back to our kitten heels, because once we're in, we can make our mark through our quality work and individuality."

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