This Saturday, in the wake of International Women’s Day, some of WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management’s most driven women took the (virtual) stage to discuss the topic of gender equality in the workplace. FEM. – The WHU Female Leadership Initiative (FEM) put on an event titled after “The Queen’s Gambit”, a popular Netflix miniseries whose namesake originates from a chess opening in which a pawn is sacrificed to make way for the queen. With more than 300 registered viewers, the online audience was treated to a series of ambitious and passionate personalities running interactive dialogues. From ex-military advisor to Angela Merkel, Erich Vad, to entrepreneurial powerhouses like Doreen Huber and Miriam Wohlfarth, and conversation topics from boosting female innovation to methods for thriving in a male-dominate domain, participants were provided with a variety of perspectives and thought processes.
FEM. co-founder and WHU student Eva Hohn (BSc 2022) greeted guests and viewers, saying, “I am not a feminist. Well, maybe not in the way that some people think about feminism. I am the kind of feminist who believes that creating equality between men and women should be on all our agendas. I am the kind of feminist who wants to empower women, not idealize them,” (00:05:21). Shortly thereafter, Prof. Dr. Nadine Kammerlander, Director of Diversity and Equal Opportunity Officer took the time to address the attendees, commenting, “At WHU we really endeavor to educate students of all levels to work in a diverse world and to promote diversity wherever they are,” (00:14:10).
Viewers were encouraged to take part in one of two interactive workshops, Accenture’s "Make success global - how to be successful in an international diverse business environment" and EY’s “Biases – Awareness in the Queen’s Gambit”. The workshops covered topics like the danger of affinity biases, the pros and cons of gender-based quotas in the workplace, the presence of inherent and subconscious prejudices, ways to handle workplace bias, and how to thrive in diversity.
In a segment entitled “Recruiting Dilemma – the Next Generation of Hiring” with Sophie Rendl, Tiaji Sio, and Janina Mütze (04:04:30) participants discussed the idea of gender inequality in the workplace as a structural problem, which has resulted in an environment in which there is a discrepancy between the qualifications of women and the positions they hold. Solutions to overcoming this structural barrier were discussed, and many concluded that it is vital not only to speak up for yourself but also for others when you witness injustice in the workplace. Of course, participants agreed that this was much easier said than done, but events like FEM.’s Female Leadership Summit aid in spreading awareness and gaining the confidence to speak out for equality.
During the discussion “Boosting Female Innovation” held by Claudia Vogt, Doreen Huber, and Miriam Wohlfarth (01:15:10) the importance of high-quality upper management was established in that leaders, both male and female, should impart a higher degree of confidence to their subordinates to encourage growth and development. Here, too, it was agreed that companies should address both conscious and unconscious biases through company-mandated training, and that the issue of gender inequality in the workplace will not be solved unless it is discussed and actively combatted. The importance of men joining in the movement for equality was also addressed as an integral piece of the puzzle as not only do unconscious biases affect men negatively, but everyone benefits when equality is established in the workplace.
The overwhelming consensus of the event was that women must have a seat at the table if equality is ever to be reached. It is abundantly clear that WHU’s student body, as evidenced by the establishment of innovative initiatives like that of FEM., is ready and willing to tackle the big-ticket issues plaguing the business world and to continue to promote equality in all facets of life.