Erik Schäfer is a luminary at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management: As a graduate of the first diploma class, he co-founded the InPraxi – WHU Alumni Association e.V. and is now part of the Dean's Advisory Board and WHU Ambassador. During his studies in England and France, Schäfer quickly understood the importance of diversity and experienced how much there is still to do to create an inclusive work environment. So when he founded his first company after graduating from WHU, he actively started to promote Diversity and Inclusion (D&I).
"The more colorful and diverse the stimuli are, the more enriching the solutions." This is how Schäfer recently described his early experience with D&I in an interview with the BeyondGenderAgenda initiative. In his opinion, not only is it more fun to work in diverse teams, but the results are also better compared to those of homogeneous team settings. As of this summer, Schäfer is now part of the advisory board of the BeyondGenderAgenda on behalf of WHU. The initiative was launched at the beginning of the year by Viktoria Wagner and is devoted to creating equal opportunities for managers and strengthening D&I in German corporations. The aim is to act as an umbrella organization for various projects and initiatives to collectively secure the long-term competitiveness of the German economy.
Disability, ethnicity, and LGBT+ are three of eight categories in which the jury will select a winner for the award. Together with more than 30 other representatives from business, science, and politics, Schäfer selects the winners according to various criteria. "Who stands for [D&I] in an outstanding way?" is the key question to be answered. It is a matter of identifying who has deserved the award in particular, either with his or her commitment as a diversity ambassador or by other means such as founding a diversity project.
The winners of the German Diversity Award will be announced digitally. WHU alumna Lina Maria Kotschedoff is among the nominees for the award in the category "Disability". Erik Schäfer, however, would prefer not to need diversity representatives at all at some point. We are well on the way to an inclusive work environment in Germany, but there are still many steps to be taken. The German Diversity Award is such a step.