'It’s great that Pride Month gets so much attention but, at the same time, that implies that we’re not there yet. There is work to be done until it becomes a non-topic.'
‘Effective diversity is being able to lead the life you want, as normal,’ says Huib Vermeulen matter-of-factly. ‘Being gay and living with a man isn’t impacting me in any way; I don’t have to deal with any gay-related issues – and that’s a good thing.’ Of course, Huib, who has lived with his partner in Amsterdam for over 20 years, realises that not everyone within the LGBT community is as fortunate. ‘Many in the gay community or those who are diverse in other ways are in a different situation and I fully understand that. It’s great that Pride Month gets so much attention but, at the same time, that implies that we’re not there yet. There is work to be done until it becomes a non-topic.’
Born in Indonesia, Huib grew up in a village in east Holland with ambitions of becoming a diplomat. He studied for his master’s in International Relations at the University of Groningen, which involved spending time in Montreal and at the United Nations in Santiago. ‘I knew I was gay but it was only when I graduated in the late 1990s and moved to Amsterdam, living in my own place, that I felt it was the time to come out. As it often goes in life, something can be a huge issue in your own mind but when you start sharing the news, it turns out not to be a big deal. On the contrary to anything I had imagined, people were very welcoming and supportive,’ he recalls.
'The financial and corporate sectors are often seen as tough environments where you might think that being gay wouldn’t be easily accepted but my personal experience is the opposite.'
A definite advantage, Huib says, has been living in a city that is progressive in its thinking. 'That’s probably helpful,’ he confirms. ‘I have a second home in the rural north of Holland and being gay is also never part of the conversation there.’ Having concluded at the end of his studies that he didn’t want to pursue a diplomatic career, his first job was working for the stock exchange. He began specialising in marketing within the financial sector and eventually took a job as Head of Marketing at Theodoor Gilissen (which became InsingerGilissen in 2017).
‘The financial and corporate sectors are often seen as tough environments where you might think that being gay wouldn’t be easily accepted but my personal experience is the opposite. I have never felt the need to keep the fact that I am gay a secret or be hush-hush about it,’ says Huib who is now Head of Marketing Special Projects at Quintet Private Bank. ‘A company doesn’t necessarily need to have an explicit diversity programme; what’s more important to me is that having a diverse profile doesn’t inhibit one from being effective in his or her job. At Quintet, we have started to put more emphasis on this in our recruitment process. It’s a specific point of attention that we want to be diverse, both in terms of the clients that we serve and the profile of our staff.’
'Being able to live a regular life with a loving partner; that’s the essence of a Richer Life.'
In fact, the only situation where Huib has had to deal with stereotyping is when people ask probing, overly personal questions at dinner parties. ‘Sometimes they assume that I’m in an open relationship or ask whether we want to adopt children. They would never ask those kinds of questions to a heterosexual couple but they do if you’re gay. I’m not offended but it surprises me.’
Although he and his partner of 21 years wear rings that resemble wedding bands, they aren’t formally married. ‘It’s mainly because of me that we’re not married; I wouldn’t want to have all the attention focused on me for a whole day,’ admits Huib. ‘My partner is the biggest blessing in my life; he is really the foundation of everything. Being together for so long has given me enormous happiness and I’m grateful for that. Being able to live a regular life with a loving partner; that’s the essence of a Richer Life.’