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07 December, 2021

More diversity on stage thanks to Inclusive Panels

Inclusive Panels is an initiative that strives for a better mix of gender, origin and age in panels at all kinds of events in Belgium.

  • It is the result of a unique collaboration between Women in Finance, Women on Board, DMAB-members (Diversity Managers Association Belgium) and various gender experts, with Febelfin as supporting partner.
  • Both companies and individual speakers can sign a charter in which they commit themselves to pay more attention to balanced panels.
  • In addition, there is also an overview of databases with various experts and speakers in Belgium and Europe.
  • More than 120 companies (including some leading international players) and speakers from both the academic and political world (federal and regional) have already signed the charter.
  • You can read more about the initiative on https://inclusivepanels.be/en.

Inclusive Panels

More diversity in the composition of panels, in terms of gender but also in terms of age and background. That is the goal of Inclusive Panels, an initiative of Women in Finance, Women on Board, DMAB members (Diversity Managers Association of Belgium) and gender experts from the north and south of the country, with Febelfin as supporting partner. They united for a year in a virtual working group to come up with solutions that emphasise the importance of gender diversity but also of a mix of ages and backgrounds, in all kinds of panels.

"A debate that includes multiple perspectives is usually much more interesting and engaging. It also prevents a one-size-fits-all approach to a subject."

Why inclusive panels are important

Research shows that only 30% of panels at corporate events are gender balanced. Yet balanced panels offer numerous benefits:

  • A mixed panel makes for richer and more open debates, with more innovative ideas.
  • Mixed panels send a strong signal to the participants and to the outside world.
  • If, in the role of expert, you can identify with people like you (in terms of gender, origin, language, etc.), it will be easier for you to pursue your ambition to become an expert. You cannot be what you cannot see.
  •  A survey by ProFacts in 2020 clearly showed that Belgians prefer mixed and more diverse panels.

Balanced panels are certainly a win-win for everyone. Therefore, the organisations at the basis of Inclusive Panels do not only want to convey a message, but also provide concrete propositions and solutions to achieve more diverse panels in practice.

Sign the charter

The initiative is written in a charter that contains a concrete commitment: the signatories (companies and individual speakers) will systematically pay attention to panels with a diverse composition. 

For example, organisations will always invite a mix of experts for panels or speeches at company events, while speakers who sign will consider the composition of the panel they are part of. By way of illustration, they can propose to share their seat or suggest for a replacement. 

The initiative also offers an overview of existing databases where you can easily look up underrepresented speakers from Belgium and Europe. 

You can find the charter and the overview of the databases on https://inclusivepanels.be/en

Since the launch of the charter, more than 120 large companies and speakers (a balanced group of women and men) have signed the Inclusive Panels Charter. Several ministers are also already convinced of the importance of diverse panels and support the initiative.

>> Read here who already signed the Inclusive Panels charter >>

"A debate that includes multiple perspectives is usually much more interesting and engaging. It also prevents a one-size-fits-all approach to a subject. For me, this is about more than just sufficient gender diversity. It also means including people of different ages and backgrounds. If we don't want to leave anyone behind in our society, it is important to hear everyone's voice."

 Alexander De Croo, Prime Minister

 “AB InBev strives to be as diverse as the communities we serve. As the world's largest brewer, we lead by example - including when invited to panels. We've signed the Inclusive Panels Charter to have richer and more open debates by ensuring that panels are as diverse as the topics they cover and the communities they inform.”

Jason Warner, Zone President Europe, ABInBev

“At Vlerick Business School, we inspire the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs. Naturally, this means showing the diversity of leadership, so that diverse talents can follow in the footsteps and believe in their own potential.”

Marion Debruyne, dean at Vlerick Business School

The Inclusive Panels Charter is an important initiative for more equality in society. It is a combination of awareness-raising and action. At the political level, we must set an example and take into account the representativeness of the population, and therefore the diversity in age, origin and gender of the participants in panels to which we are invited. If the panels are not sufficiently diverse, we must make the organisers aware of this and, if necessary, turn down the invitation. I am convinced that this initiative will give rise to ideas and points of view that we are not used to hearing. I am pleased that so many people and organisations are supporting this initiative."

Sarah Schlitz, Secretary of State for Gender Equality, Equal Opportunities and Diversity