Inaugural speech on LGBT Workplace Inclusion

On April 6th, I held my inaugural speech to mark my appointment as Professor on LGBT Workplace Inclusion at Leiden University. It was a festive occasion and I was very pleased to see how much interest there is in the topic. Besides family, friends and colleagues, the audience consisted of interested parties from industry, government and civil society.

Read the speech here (in Dutch): "Naar een Inclusieve Werkvloer: Seksuele Orientatie en Gender Identiteit op het Werk."



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Toward effective and evidence-based diversity policy

The Dutch Inclusivity Monitor (NIM) has been launched!

With the aim of bridging science and society, my research group at Utrecht University has teamed up with the National Integration Fund in developing an instrument to monitor organizations' diversity and inclusion practices and their impact.

The National Integration Fund is an initiative by CEO's of big corporations to contribute to a better and more integrated society through an evidence-based approach to diversity. We survey its D&I policy and employee perceptions, screen our findings in light of the latest scientific insights, and identify where progress can still be made. By repeating this annually and by benchmarking between organizations, we can monitor the progress and determine best practices.

See the press release (in Dutch) for more information or go to


Special Chair for the Workplace Inclusion of LGBT

I am excited to announce that starting January 1st 2017, I will be taking up a new position as the Workplace Pride Chair at Leiden University!

The Workplace Pride Chair is instituted by the Workplace Pride Foundation and Leiden University with the generous support of KPN and provides a focused and scientific approach to studying and improving LGBT inclusion in the workplace both domestically and internationally.

As the Chair, I intend to work on three broad and interrelated lines of research. A first focus will be to identify the factors that influence the workplace inclusion of LGBT+ people and to examine their dynamics. A second aim will be to contribute to evidence-based solutions to workplace inclusion by examining what are (and aren’t) effective types of policies and interventions. A third focus will be on how diversity policy is best communicated and implemented in order to mitigate resistance and enhance both majority and minority members’ support for it.

I will be combining it with my position at Utrecht University so am unlikely to get bored :)

Read more here


Introduction for new employees

This morning I and other UU newbies received a formal introduction to our new place of work including a tour of University Hall, the university's public face and ceremonial heart. According to the website "It was here that the Treaty of Utrecht was signed in 1579, an event that is generally viewed as marking the origin of the Dutch nation. When Utrecht University was founded in 1636 it was given the Auditorium by the city." The building sure breathes history!

 Photo credit: Rutger Hermsen (Creative Commons)

Photo credit: Rutger Hermsen (Creative Commons)

What makes authorities legitimate in the eyes of citizens?

I had the pleasure of serving on Honorata Mazepus' dissertation committee and receiving the answer to this question first-hand. In her dissertation, Honorata investigated which factors contribute to perceptions of political authorities as legitimate by individuals socialized in different political regimes. She found that citizens care about the outcomes they derive from governing (e.g., material welfare and stability), but are even more so are concerned with the fairness in which goods and services are distributed across society. Results were surprisingly consistent across regimes, thus challenging the notion that there may be something unique about the expectations about political authorities that citizens in non-democratic regimes have.

Honorata did a fabulous job at her defense and very deservedly goes by Dr. Mazepus now!

Exciting new collaboration

This summer I had the pleasure of welcoming Efraín García-Sánchez to our lab. He is a PhD student at the University of Granada, supervised by Profs. Rosa Rodríguez-Bailón and Guillermo Willis. Efraín has an interest in understanding the legitimization of economic inequality and researches how people map their perceptions of the ideal level of inequality in society to their perceptions of the existing level of inequality (naturalistic fallacy). During his research stay, Efraín and I analyzed and interpreted studies that he had conducted earlier this year and outlined several research papers. In addition, we worked on a large-scale multi-level analysis including publicly available data from over forty countries to replicate previous research findings from the Spanish context. I was impressed by how quickly he acquired this new technique and was able to put it to use. Efraín's research is novel and exciting and I couldn't have wished for a more fun and productive collaboration! Looking forward to continuing our work together

See this paper for earlier work on this topic: Willis, G. B., Rodríguez-Bailón, R., López-Rodríguez, L., & García-Sánchez, E. (2015). Legitimacy moderates the relationship between perceived and ideal inequalities. Social Justice Research, 28, 493-508.

Another successful PhD defense!

Today, Marlon Mooijman successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled "On the determinants and consequences of punishment goals: The role of power, distrust, and rule compliance" at Leiden University. My intelligent and critical questioning as opponent on his committee didn't throw him off one bit!


This dissertation focuses on the determinants and consequences of leaders’ punishment goals. I investigate how and why leaders rely on certain punishment goals, and how and why leaders’ reliance on such punishment goals affects punishment effectiveness. Specifically, in this dissertation I demonstrate that—with increasing power over others—leaders rely more on punishment goals that are actually suboptimal in promoting rule compliance. I demonstrate that power fosters a distrustful mindset towards people, which increases reliance on deterrence—but not just deserts as a punishment goal. Using deterrence—as opposed to just deserts—as a justification for punishments, in turn, decreases people’s willingness to comply with rules because they feel distrusted by the leader. Finally, leaders' reliance on suboptimal punishment goals can be explained by their motivation to maintain power over others. Although power may thus increase leaders’ reliance on punishments to deter rule-breaking behavior, paradoxically, this may at times decrease the effectiveness of the punishment.