Campus - 14.09.2017 - 00:00 

First Diversity & Inclusion Conference at the HSG

On 12 September 2017, the first Diversity & Inclusion Conference was staged at the HSG. Experts from research and practice discussed the benefits and challenges of personal diversity from the perspectives of management and social policy. Dana Sindermann reports.

14 September 2017. The conference hall of the Executive Campus HSG with its 140 seats is filled to capacity by representatives of academia, publicly owned groups, SMEs and non-profit organisations. All of them have something to do with the issue of diversity in their everyday working lives, i.e. with the question as to how social diversity can be put to constructive use in the organisation. The issue is highly topical in times of manifold social changes: streams of migration, new technologies, demographic change, an increase in the number of women in gainful employment and intensified inclusion of people with disabilities are changing management and cooperation in many aspects.

"These are really burning issues which occupy business for one thing, but to which we must also find solutions as a society and as universities in order to deal with them well," says Gudrun Sander. The Adjunct Professor of Business Administration with special focus on Diversity Management is the initiator of the conference.

Pooling competencies at the HSG and making them visible

At the University of St.Gallen, a great number of institutes, centers and chairs deal with issues of personal diversity and inclusion. They range from business administration, law and political science to sociology, organisation psychology and gender studies. It is these competencies that Gudrun Sander wants to pool and make visible with this conference. "The motivation really was to show what we do at the HSG in this field. After all, it’s not normally the key topic which the HSG stands for in the outside world. But many different institutes and centers are conducting great research on this issue and, above all, have been working with practitioners for years. And this conference is like a display window, as it were, that makes this cooperation between research and practice visible."

Researchers discuss things with practitioners

This transdisciplinary claim was translated into practice in six lively panel discussions. HSG academics discussed the latest research results with practitioners: What benefit derives from diversity? Who should actually be included and how? Where are the great challenges of inclusion? And what makes sense in terms of social policy?

How important these questions are for organisations was not only demonstrated by the flood of registrations from executives, HR managers and equal opportunities officers for the very first edition of the conference; rather, the University itself is facing challenges in this regard. HSG professor and patron of the conference, Winfried Ruigrok, searched his own conscience: the HSG, too, has room for improvement in the field of diversity and inclusion. And Franz Schultheis, Professor of Sociology at this University, points out that the Student Union is largely run by men. Thus there is a great deal still to be done. The Diversity & Inclusion Conference is now intended to be run on an annual basis but focusing on different topics.

Dana Sindermann is a research assistant at the Institute for Business Ethics.

photo: photocase / Ahkka

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