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The Benefits of Diversity

The Hague, The Netherlands, July 14, 2014

Many countries have strict rules about non-discrimination. But the arguments in favor of a more diverse workforce go much deeper than legal requirements alone – something Aegon is benefiting from right across its business.

Employing a diverse workforce – in terms of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and disability – that reflects the societies in which we operate, provides the company with a much clearer understanding of its customers.

This isn't just theorizing. According to research, minorities' purchasing power in the US, by 2014, will have reached $4 trillion. That's a considerable amount of money. In many parts of the US, minorities are the new mainstream.

Diversity at Aegon

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Understanding Customers

"Customers today are more likely to relate to companies that reflect their values and experiences than ever before," says Marc van Weede, Aegon's Global Head of Strategy & Sustainability. "And that's not only good for our brand and our reputation. It could be good for our sales too, particularly if it helps us serve new markets."

In 2013 Aegon introduced a global Diversity and Non-Discrimination Statement. This was supported by diversity days for employees to raise awareness about the importance of inclusion in the workplace.

A number of employee-led diversity communities are also active across Aegon, helping to foster a greater awareness of diversity. Aegon Proud, the company's online LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community, is one of the company's most active, with members spanning the US, UK, Mexico, and the Netherlands. The community offers a resource and support for LGBT colleagues, as well as raising awareness and stimulating discussion about LGBT issues and diversity in the workplace.

Attracting Talent

"At Aegon we've created an environment where people are respected as individuals and people feel they have the room to bring their unique perspectives to the table," says Rebekka Tijsterman, Aegon's Global Head of Recruitment. "This leads to a more engaged and effective workforce, which in turn leads to lower turnover, better customer service and improved overall performance."

In June 2014, Aegon's operations in the Netherlands joined Workplace Pride, an non-profit organization that strives for greater acceptance of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people in the workplace and in society.

"By making our support for LGBT inclusion in the workplace public in this way, our message is that Aegon is not just an inclusive place to work, but that we also strive to understand the needs of all of our employees and clients in today's ever changing society," adds Marc van Weede.

Driving Innovation

Customer centricity is at the heart of Aegon's strategic focus, and digital technologies are playing a key role in helping the company achieve this. Marc van Weede explains that: "Diversity is a clear driver of innovation – a more diverse workforce means new perspectives and new ideas, and that means new business opportunities. It creates better decision-making and a higher awareness of both risk and opportunity – precisely because diverse teams look at business from different angles."

Rebekka Tijsterman adds: "Embracing diversity, in the broadest sense of the word, is key for us to attract this type of creative talent."

Still not convinced? Then consider this: In terms of company performance, there's persuasive evidence. A recent study found that, over a ten-year period, the most diverse companies in the US outperformed the S&P 500 stock index on average by 25%. The point is not that diversity drives performance, but that the highest-performing companies make diversity part of their everyday management.

Written by: Aegon