Diversity as Opportunity

In the year 2017, the word “diversity” is a long-established concept, and “equal treatment” is on the agenda of many companies. And yet, in the everyday workplace, many employees – male and female alike – face an invisible wall.

To this day, women earn around 20 percent less on average than men do, and women in executive suites often find themselves alone in a crowd of men. People who come from a different cultural background or belong to a minority due to their sexual orientation also frequently find it difficult to get by in a business environment. Taunts, little innuendos or adherence to stereotypes often work to force employees to conceal or mask an important part of their lives in the workplace. And yet researchers have long since agreed that employees can unleash their full potential at work only if given an opportunity to develop their own personalities as freely as possible. 

The question of how companies can promote and make the most of potential of employee diversity was the theme of WHU’s second Diversity Day. The motto for varied program, which consisted of a round table, workshops and group supper, was “Managing Diversity – Leveraging the Full Potential.” The event was hosted by Professor Dr. Miriam Müthel, whol leads the Chair of Organizational Behavior at WHU. “Studies show that all of the courses business offer on the subject of diversity have no effect at all,” the scientist explained. “Instead, companies need to bring people with diverse backgrounds together to work in teams. Direct contact is the only way to overcome prejudices and stereotypes.” Today’s manager must be trained to involve every team member in the work in a way that offers an opportunity to prove him- or herself, and to be a full-fledged team within the group – because of their individual background, not despite it. 

Representatives of Oliver Wyman, McKinsey, Axel Springer and the “Ladies@WHU” Alumni association offered exciting impressions of their personal experiences, providing some 40 participating students an opportunity to share ideas in three workshops devoted to diversity and inclusion. 

Diversity Day was organized by WHU’s Diversity & LGBT Group. Current and former students at WHU come together for a shared exchange and general promotion of diversity at WHU.