Confidential Counseling

Number of confidential counselors has significantly increased in the past five years.

The total number of confidential counselors in the Netherlands has significantly increased over the past five years. At the beginning of 2018, there were 199 confidential counselors registered with the Chamber of Commerce (KVK). In the fourth quarter of 2023, this number has almost quadrupled to 889 confidential counselors.

Number of Confidential Counselors in the Netherlands (2018-2023)

Inge te Brake, chairperson of the National Association of Confidential Counselors (LVV), the professional association of confidential counselors, recognizes these figures. “Since the original American #MeToo movement, we have seen an increase in the number of confidential counselors, but after the events at the TV show ‘The Voice of Holland’ and everything that became known afterward, the number has increased enormously. The MeToo movement brought some awareness to organizations here, but it could still be dismissed. After all the misconduct in the Netherlands, there’s no denying it anymore, and the awareness that we have a societal problem is growing, and we know that it occurs in all organizations.”

Confidential counselor Henriëtte Wijnen (Wijnen Coaching & Consultancy) agrees and also sees that organizations are more aware of the impact of unwanted and unethical behavior. “A lot has been said and written in the media over the past year, also following a number of other cases such as the TV program ‘De Wereld Draait Door’. On the other hand, I also notice that a large number of organizations still think that the unwanted behavior ‘isn’t too bad’ and they turn a blind eye to it. This is remarkable, because research shows that a (psychologically) safe and pleasant working environment yields a lot, such as: work happiness, more innovation, increased productivity, and less absenteeism.”


Te Brake observes increasing diversity within the LVV. “Initially, we were an association with many female members, but now we are seeing more and more men, young people, and people from diverse backgrounds becoming confidential counselors. We are, of course, very pleased with this.”

However, Wijnen emphasizes the importance of companies having an LVV registered confidential counselor. “This can be an internal or external counselor, or a combination of both. A confidential counselor can provide initial support and be a ‘listening ear’ for those who need it, and explore possible solutions with the reporter. This can have a de-escalating effect, and the reporter retains control. The confidential counselor can also translate signals to management, HR, and/or the board so that action can be taken. For example, by advising policy changes or making issues discussable.”

Number of Confidential Counselors in the Netherlands by Province (2018-2023)

Most Confidential Counselors and Largest Increase in South Holland

The province of South Holland not only has the most confidential counselors (180) in the last quarter of 2023 but also experienced the largest increase in the number of confidential counselors over the past five years, more than six times as many.

According to Wijnen, having a confidential counselor is far from just a ‘box-ticking exercise’. “It’s really about the intrinsic motivation from the management/board to create a (psychologically) safe working environment. And not just because the law requires it. It’s about an organization genuinely wanting to understand its current state in this regard and actively working on it,” says Wijnen.

Te Brake agrees and earnestly hopes that cases are handled appropriately without always opting for an investigation. “That’s not always necessary. Having conversations about the way we interact with each other remains the key pillar in enhancing safety in the workplace.”

Confidential Counselor in SMEs: How Do You Arrange This?

Read our FAQ Frequently Asked Questions, and visit the article below for advice on the Chamber of Commerce.

Top Ten Most Frequently Asked Questions Received by the Chamber of Commerce (KVK) Advice Team

Source: KVK, 18 December 2023