Management Principle 5

Create a safe working environment

A safe working environment is one in which all employees feel recognised and valued, regardless of age, gender, cultural background, faith, physical condition, etc. It is also a place where both deliberate and unintentional exclusion and barriers are actively countered. As manager, you play a crucial role in creating this.


Tips for creating a safe work environment

  • Ask staff about their personal experiences and insights – also in the context of their philosophy of life.
  • Focus on matters that stand out and which (may) relate to philosophies of life.
  • Avoid stereotyping. Don’t repeatedly put the same questions to the same people.
  • Be on the alert for covering – this takes place when people conceal certain aspects of themselves in order not to appear (too) different
  • Create space for the voices of minorities. It is neither intended nor feasible that everyone should agree on everything.

More tips?
Download the collected insights on inclusive leadership in printable format



a talk with

Fanny Matheusen

Deep democracy expert and founder of Hummus

According to this expert, managers definitely function as role models when it comes to creating a safe working environment – a place in which all employees feel that they can mention tensions and address differences of opinion, within the known structures of the organisation.

‘Many managers and leaders don’t dare to enter certain conversations, because they are afraid of failing. However, daring to reveal yourself to others, which means displaying your differences, allows other people, in turn, to dare to show themselves. And this contributes to a greater sense of safety in the workplace.’

Don’t judge. Do appreciate differences of opinion.
‘If a difference emerges in a conversation, don’t associate that difference with one person, but see the single different voice as representing what needs to be discussed collectively. Just see it as a dissenting vote. And ask whether there are others who identify with that vote. Avoid premature judgements during conversations. Observe situations and explore how to deal with them as an organisation.’

Read the full interview


Tools to facilitate a safe working environment

These freely accessible, online tools (in Dutch) help you determine your organisation’s current level of diversity and/or inclusion:

Adopt an inclusive leadership style

Create broad acceptance and support

Adopt an inclusive leadership style

Create broad acceptance and support