For WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management, a German business school with a strong international orientation, diversity is an extremely important topic. It is one of the key words of our time. But how is diversity defined? When we talk about diverse teams, we are not just referring to a balanced gender ratio. Employees of different origins with different ethnic backgrounds are also valued in terms of diversity.
Greater variety in teams can lead to a significant increase in overall company performance. "Diversity," says Professor Dr. Fabiola Gerpott, Chair of Leadership at WHU, "can be an asset because it carries the potential to increase the variety of knowledge discussed at meetings.”
However, current research results show that diversity does not come automatically and that there is more to its successful implementation. It is not enough to just employ diverse people. Diversity must be actively managed, whether by offering unconscious bias trainings to help break down unconscious prejudices and stereotypical thinking patterns or by implementing a safe and respectful working environment where there is no risk of employees ridiculing extraordinary ideas.
Diversity is one of WHU's fundamental values. "We prepare students for working in very diverse teams", says Professor Dr. Nadine Kammerlander, Chair of Family Business and Equal Opportunity Officer at WHU. "It is important that they learn to work in such an environment." Furthermore, a diverse work atmosphere encourages creativity and attracts the best employees and the best academic staff in the world.
The great importance with which the topic of diversity is approached at WHU is reflected in numerous activities on the campus in Vallendar and in Düsseldorf, including the transparent application and admissions process, which ensures unbiased decisions, and the research department, which not only deals with the topic but will soon appoint a junior professorship for diversity. The range of courses offered are diverse on several levels: On the one hand, all degree programs contain international components in the form of modules, semesters, and/or internships abroad, while on the other hand, all of them and the majority of the Executive Education programs are taught in English. In addition to the Equal Opportunities Officer, Wolfgang Staus ensures a diverse and inclusive work culture in the responsibility of Disability Officer. Professor Kammerlander also refers to the cooperation between the Institute for Family Business at WHU and the State Women's Council, which honors talented women in medium-sized companies every two years. As a member of the Diversity Charta, WHU has also been striving since 2017 to promote the recognition, appreciation, and inclusion of diversity in the world of work. Furthermore, the business school is a partner of the initiative "BeyondGenderAgenda". Finally yet importantly, students and alumni are committed to a more diverse present and future of the world of work. The former are involved in the student club "Diversity at WHU" which organizes the annual Diversity Day, and the latter help to organize a series of lectures on diversity for the students and launch initiatives such as the mentoring program "Initiative Women into Leadership".
Diversity is not just a trendy word that a company or institution should adorn itself with. At WHU, it is valued and lived. It is seen as an opportunity to better educate students and as a chance to create a better working atmosphere for the employees of the business school.
More insightful research and WHU expertise on diversity can be found here