ADI spoke to Nafize Sener, director of Inter-Focus Intercultural Expertise Centre BV.

‘(In)equal access to internships and work for college graduates with a migration background’ says a report From Maastricht University. “With us, it’s the other way around! In fact, at Inter-focus, we find it precisely interesting if you bring a non-Dutch language and culture with you, in addition to a professional specialism. After all, that increases the range of services we can provide to our clients and customers.”

“We are a partner for insurers in the personal injury industry in the field of reintegration and absenteeism for employers, advocates and health and safety services. Because we have multicultural, certified employment experts, reintegration specialists, occupational social workers and other professionals, we can offer customised services.”

How did the need for the existence of Interfocus arise? Was there a trigger
? “Interfocus was born out of an idealism: wanting to contribute to society thanks to innovative entrepreneurship. For example, we saw that companies, insurers and (personal injury) victims could not find tailor-made services in recovery and reintegration, because the expertise from intercultural service providers and professionals was missing. Of course, there were intercultural experts, but they were not united and had no platform. Moreover, many companies saw that more ethnic-cultural diversity in the workplace does not automatically lead to a more inclusive corporate culture. After all, a climate in which everyone feels valued and heard does not arise automatically, and we foresee that in the next 50 years there will still be a great need for intercultural services in the labour market.”

What does it mean for your services that your specialists speak the (cultural) language of clients and customers?

“By having a diverse team, we literally and figuratively speak our clients’ language, allowing us to flexibly adapt our services to them. By tailoring guidance and communication to the client (and taking into account specific cultural characteristics), the assignment runs more smoothly, less miscommunication occurs, people can get back to work faster… In other words, less hassle.” “So with us, HRM, marketers and legal staff who speak other non-Western languages in addition to Dutch are really sought-after talents. Because how can a company resolve a situation or conflict if all perspectives are not properly heard and understood? For example, we have an HRM trainee from Zimbabwe sitting next to Jan, our Dutch HRM trainee, and both bring their own expertise, ideas and knowledge. I can also name a few examples from our daily practice: – A Somali young man who says he feels better understood by his Dutch-Sudanese recovery coach, and can better describe his symptoms. As a result, he recovers faster and can return to work sooner; – An older Dutch-Turkish employee who cannot keep up with the fast-changing technology in the workplace and also has difficulty with the Dutch language. Thanks to a Turkish-speaking reintegration specialist, he has a confidant (and translator) with whom he can make a plan that he himself also supports 100%. – A Syrian employee who speaks only Arabic and is involved in an industrial accident. After a period of ambiguity and miscommunication, we provided a specialist who understood (and therefore understood) this employee, enabling him to clearly explain to the employer what exactly had happened and what his role in the accident had been. Companies that knock on our door have often already been through an entire search. They feel they have finally got hold of the right party. Their client is coming home to roost.”

Can you say something about Amsterdam as a place to work?

“Amsterdam is a city the whole world falls in love with. Just like Istanbul, Casablanca, Hong Kong … We are proud to have this our office in this beautiful city and to carry out our services from here. Recently, here at Osdorpplein, close to our office, a man with a cart is selling chestnuts and corn cobs, just like in Taksim Square in Turkey! This man stands there fraternally between next to the fishmonger and the exotic fruit and vegetable peddler. When the sun is shining or not, I go for a walk around there. In the ‘shopper hall’ there is all kinds of food: Oriental; Indian; Western; something for everyone. It takes some self-discipline to go easy on all that delicious food….

Many different cultures come together in Amsterdam, but the ‘big picture’ only gains value when the intercultural parts are connected. How cool is it to illuminate people from all cultures and use talents? This can only be done by connecting. We are specialists and bring with us a multitude of languages and cultures, which I think is really characteristic of Amsterdam. This great city offers a great diversity of multicultural potential and we also grant this to companies throughout the Netherlands. We feel completely at home!”

Back To Top