By Niki Wheeler, director, Edelman Amsterdam,
As an expat who has worked in the Netherlands for a few months, it’s been surprising to see how the country, famed for its ‘polder model’ (consensus based economic and social policy-making), has fared in The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer.
Fresh off the boat from Blighty and despite what I’ve read in the British press about Mr Wilders, it’s hard to believe that there’s a growing sense of inequality in The Netherlands with double digit gaps in institutional trust between informed and mass publics – particularly the government. In this collaborative culture, it’s also startling that over half of people also worried about losing the respect and dignity they once enjoyed.
Seriously? Everyone I speak to here seems happy to pay one of the highest rates of tax in Western Europe and no-one, however successful, seems to be overtly ‘flash’ either. There also seems to be far less obvious income inequality when you walk the streets of Amsterdam (dodging bikes and trams) after work than there is in London.
Worryingly, nearly a third of people feel pessimistic / neutral about whether they and their families will be better off in the next five years – despite the fact The Silicon Canals are seemingly booming.
Our pipeline here at Edelman Amsterdam seems fueled by international brands seeking an English speaking, but not Anglo-Centric approach to EMEA storytelling, or Dutch businesses wanting a commercially driven marcoms view as they scale up.
Visits from my UK contacts and friends hopping over to Amsterdam and Rotterdam for private equity conferences or meetings with family offices, banks, private equity houses or groovy fintechs are also frequent – which is great. Bars and restaurants are also buzzing with all kinds of tasting menus on offer.
Worryingly and despite famously employee centric Dutch labour law, 68% of people still worry about losing their jobs. When innovation is rife and hipsters are everywhere, it’s also interesting that the gig economy (sorry – I’m probably Uber’s best customer in the NL) is apparently posing the biggest threat.
However, there are some things in the barometer which won’t be a surprise to expats working here.
In a work environment where the talent is world class, doors are open, hierarchies seem non-existent and people are direct but collaborative in any of the ninety or so languages they speak (fluently), it’s hardly a surprise that 71% of straight talking Dutchies believe their employer should be doing more to change the future of society.
Two thirds (67%) also expect a prospective employer to involve them in the planning and the majority say they are obliged to retrain them against the threats of automation and innovation.
Perhaps the Dutchies will stem the tide of inequality after all.