What challenges does the current pandemic pose for the integrative learning and working environment at our university? And what lessons can we learn from this time? On the occasion of the German Diversity Day, CBS equal opportunities representative Julia Daufenbach discussed these and other questions with CBS employees and students for the first time in an online conference. Prof. Dr. habil. Lisa Fröhlich, President of the CBS International Business School, emphasised the great value of diversity within the CBS in her welcoming address: “This event is a kickoff for us. We are determined to further promote diversity and inclusion on our campuses – also within our research activities. Let us make diversity one of the key topics to which we feel particularly committed at the CBS!
CBS research project gives new impulses
As a first keynote, Angie Ewenz and Antonia Göbel, Master students of the study programme “Business Psychology”, presented a research project on this theme. As part of their business project on the topic of “Diversity and Inclusion at CBS”, they investigated the question of how the CBS would stand in comparison to other universities and companies in the areas of diversity and plurality. They also wanted to find out what the students think about this topic: Do they feel welcome at the CBS and included in the community? Through individual discussions with German and international students as well as a large, anonymous survey, they gained exciting insights on the basis of which they developed various suggestions for improvement. For example, the project team recommends that the signs in the canteen are consistently bilingual and that the professors are regularly sensitised with regard to cultural and language differences. The survey also revealed that almost none of the students know that there is an equal opportunity officer and who she is. Therefore, the project team recommends introducing her during the introductory week and thus emphasising the importance of diversity and inclusion.
“Our idea for the Bachelor’s and Master’s Nights was also developed from feedback from the survey. The majority of the respondents had indicated that they would like to have more contact with students from other disciplines or countries. We could understand this very well because we feel the same way. Unfortunately, however, from our point of view there is a lack of contact opportunities and therefore our idea for a monthly event organised by students for students. In this way the students can get to know each other more intensively and expand their network outside of their everyday student life, e.g. at barbecues, gaming nights or business speed dating,” says project manager Angie Ewenz.
An annual Diversity Week highlighting various aspects of diversity, such as culture, gender identity and religion, could also raise awareness among staff and students. “This kind of theme week can help us to identify and question unconscious biases in ourselves. We could also once again emphasise the advantages of an international campus, which we experience every day,” Antonia Göbel explained her event idea. Furthermore, the two students recommend intercultural trainings by international students who could give the participants an understanding their culture.
Panel discussion: “What does inclusion mean in the Corona period?”
The current times raise new questions about inclusion: How can comparable participation and integration be achieved via online formats? “My biggest challenge this semester was communication via digital tools. It’s unusual for me to be in front of the computer all day. I also miss the direct in-class interaction with my students. Some students may have found it difficult to get involved in the online lectures. We should make special efforts to involve all students during these online lectures,” says Prof. Dr. Laxmi Remer, Vice Dean of International Business and Professor of Finance. The host Julia Daufenbach then found the appropriate closing words for the first event “[email protected]”: “Diversity is about inviting people to the party and inclusion is about asking people to dance”.