Amsterdam's diverse, highly skilled population

Amsterdam's diverse history and its breadth of cultures explains why more than 2,900 foreign companies have chosen the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area as their European location, which in turn draws talent from all over the world. Very few places in Europe compare to Amsterdam in terms of the sheer volume of its highly educated, highly skilled, and highly diverse workforce. Learn more about Amsterdam's diversity on our international profiles page, which explores what life in Amsterdam is like for many of the city's migrants, including Joyce from CanadaFrench-born Nicolas and Theodora from Greece.

The Netherlands is among the world’s most open cultures: according to the latest IMD World Competitiveness survey, the country ranked fifth out of 61 countries in terms of being open to foreign ideas. Likewise, the Netherlands came in at eighth place worldwide in the Human Capital Index (World Economic Forum, 2016) and fourth place in terms of labour productivity (IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2016).

Corporate diversity in Amsterdam

Amsterdam's wealth of diversity can clearly be seen in the international companies based in the Amsterdam region. The city has roughly 50 companies that each employ people from 25 nationalities on average, with the top 10 most-diverse companies employing people from more than 35 different countries (according to a new report commissioned by IN Amsterdam and the City of Amsterdam). At the top of the list, some of the companies have people from almost 80 different nationalities working for them in Amsterdam.

A telling example is Booking.com, whose headquarters is based in the centre of town. This market-leading company for online bookings employs more than 1,200 employees in Amsterdam from more than 70 countries, and the talent pool that Amsterdam offers is unsurpassed in terms of diversity. “It's crucial for our type of business to attract talented people from all over the world,” said former Booking.com CEO Darren Huston in AMS Magazine. “Amsterdam is a great asset for us,” he added. “Especially for young people, the work-life balance of this city is a unique experience.”

TomTom, the world’s leader in navigation products, is also headquartered in central Amsterdam, a choice that was made to attract the brightest engineers from all over the world. TomTom employs people from more than 30 nationalities in Amsterdam. Another frontrunner is Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, which counts about 25 different nationalities among its performers. The orchestra advertises its jobs around the world, and their conductors also come from many different countries. “We play music from all around the world every day, so we deal with diversity through our music,” the orchestra’s head of PR Anne Christin Erbe told AMS.

Celebrating Amsterdammers from 180 countries

To celebrate this diversity, the City of Amsterdam is mapping out its different nationalities in a project called 180 Amsterdammers, in which representatives from each of these 180 countries have been interviewed and photographed. These portraits will be displayed throughout the city to remind the people of Amsterdam just how rich in cultures their city is.

The celebrations will take place throughout the city; for example, in an exhibition in Amsterdam’s Central Library beginning in December. Another event is a special dinner in which these 180 Amsterdammers will celebrate with the mayor, making it a truly international diner and celebration of diversity.