From Diversity Management to Diversity & Inclusion?

From Diversity Management to Diversity & Inclusion?

By Gabriele Schambach
September 2, 2019


As already 10 years ago, the conference and scientific networking meeting of diversity researchers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland took place from 26 to 27 August 2019 at the University of St. Gallen. 

In eight sessions, 26 contributions from research and practice were presented and used as a starting point to discuss how diversity and inclusion can be (better) implemented in companies and organizations. The contributions dealt with questions of how diversity and inclusion can be anchored conceptually and theoretically, as well as questions about change, learning, contradictions and exclusions. Moreover, the latest empirical results from organizations, administration, universities and non-profit organizations were unveiled. Over and above geographical and content boundaries, the focus was again and again on how we can make it possible to create more diversity and facilitate inclusion. The diverse nature of contributions showed in how many different contexts diversity and inclusion are addressed and dealt with. The wealth of information stimulated reflection as well as lively discussions about the contributions during session breaks.

Three fantastic keynotes were the anchor points of the conference: Prof. Maddie Janssen from the University of Leuven in Belgium offered a review of the development of diversity research and presented a truly exciting dance project, which represents a potential opportunity for further sustainable research in the field. No less inspiring, and particularly exciting for our project, Prof. Elisabeth Kelan from the University of Essex in the UK presented her research and illustrated how (male) managers can promote equal opportunities (we will give you more details in a separate post!).

Serving as a transition from the academic conference to the practitioner-oriented St. Gallen Diversity and Inclusion Conference on August 29, 2019, PD Dr. Thomas Köllen from the University of Bern presented his research findings on LGBT* in organizational and management research.

Titled "Inclusion means cultural change - or what male executives can do for the advancement of women in the company", Prof. Dr. Julia Nentwich and I submitted a paper from our project "Leaders for Equality - equality needs men".
For our presentation, we started by giving an overview of the status quo of international research on the topic of men, male executives and gender equality in organizations. While there have been several interesting projects and some advancements have been made indeed, research is scarce on this topic to date. On the one hand, this is regrettable because we would like to build on existing work in our project. On the other hand, it makes clear how urgently our research contribution on the role of male executives is needed if diversity and inclusion in companies are to prosper.
For the second part, we presented our professional experiences in working on that topic with male managers in companies. Like this we were able to show that some of the practical examples are more far-reaching than current research. For us, this is also the confirmation that our project will create a close link between academic and business practice.
In the coming months, we will now gradually fill the gaps in research and link them to activities in our project companies. In any case, we will also present our findings at next year's specialist and networking conference for diversity researchers in German-speaking countries at the Bern University of Applied Sciences.