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Breaking free from the boxes of conventional thinking

Sjoerd Hendriks channels his creativity as a UX designer at Visma Circle, working to make sure that their software is accessible to all. Passionate about diversity and inclusion, he discusses his personal journey, the importance of inclusive design, and what celebrating Pride really means.

Since March, Sjoerd has been putting his creativity and expertise to work as a UX designer at Visma Circle, making their software accessible to everyone. He ensures the software is easy to navigate by maintaining and expanding the design system, ensuring compliance with WCAG guidelines, and incorporating user feedback.

Sjoerd started working as a student software engineer at Visma Circle while still attending Zuyd University of Applied Science. He concluded his graduation project here, conducting research and tests for user analytics, which served as a valuable foundation for his role as a UX Designer. Outside of work, Sjoerd loves spending quality time outdoors and enjoys adventurous sports. He lives in the Netherlands with his partner and their beloved cat. Being openly gay, he’s a passionate advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion – both in the workplace and beyond.

Hi, Sjoerd! So, what inspired you to pursue a career in UX design?

I find UX design really interesting for a few reasons. If the design is well-executed, the work behind it is almost invisible to the user. Sometimes it’s even underappreciated. But, if something isn’t well-designed, it sticks out like a sore thumb. I also find it fascinating how different kinds of users interact with technology in their own ways.

UX designers also have a super varied workload, which is quite important to me. One moment I’ll be working on maintaining our design system, and in the next I’m looking into possibilities for improved user insights or working with customers in a co-creation session. I really appreciate that variety.

What do you think is important to ensure inclusive user experiences?

Creating inclusive user experiences involves more than just universal accessibility. We have to ensure that our products are respectful of our diverse users through inclusive language, imagery, and themes. The better our understanding of our users is, the better their experience will be when using our products.

What drives your commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion?

My commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion is pretty personal to me. It mainly comes from my own experiences as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, combined with a fundamental and genuine belief in equality and fairness for everyone – regardless of their age, life experiences, sexual orientation, beliefs, educational background, and physical and mental abilities.

What do you think is important to ensure an inclusive work environment?

I think that to have a truly inclusive work environment, you have to dismantle the boxes of conventional thinking and emphasise the value of diverse perspectives. We need to embrace open communication and actively listen to each other, implement ways to educate coworkers on diversity and unconscious bias, and ensure representation across all levels. By challenging stereotypes and embracing the unique contributions of each individual, it’s possible to create a workplace where everyone feels valued, heard, seen, and respected for who they are. 


How do you perceive Visma’s commitment to working with diversity and inclusion?

I see that Visma’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is well integrated within our company culture. You see this commitment not only at the higher leadership levels but also in smaller Visma companies like ours. It’s clear that diversity and inclusion is a high priority in the organisation, which I appreciate.

As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, what does Pride mean to you?

I think many people tend to misunderstand what Pride is really about. While Pride is about celebrating who you are, let’s not forget what it originally was: a riot and a protest. It was a protest for LGBTQIA+ rights, or, more accurately, human rights. Rights that we may take for granted in some parts of the world but which a shocking amount of people still don’t have. I think it’s important that we don’t forget that we unfortunately still have a long way to go, and we still need to fight for that.

What steps do you think we can take to encourage more open conversations about LGBTQIA+ issues and inclusion in the workplace?

To encourage more open conversations about LGBTQIA+ issues and inclusion in the workplace, it’s essential to move beyond stereotypes and unconscious bias. This can be achieved by creating safe spaces, having training about inclusion, and having clear equality policies. I think it’s also important that leadership visibly support these efforts.

Learn more about diversity, equity, and inclusion at Visma