Meeting the Challenges of Diversity Management at Frankfurt School
FS Life / 3 February, 2015
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Freelance Trainer and Interim Manager
Freelance Trainer and Interim Manager

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As the Diversity Manager at an international business school, my main priorities are not just forming a framework for embracing and celebrating cultural diversity on campus, but also to tackle a full range of institutional and organizational issues that are constantly in shift as our campus attracts more international students as well as staff. Over the past years, the university has made a conscious, strategic effort to become more internationally orriented. This has presented specific organizational challenges that we are ready and willing to meet. As more and more of our Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes are being offered in English, we have had to augment our English speaking staff, especially in Study Advisory. Our website, marketing materials, and teaching materials also needed to be produced in English. Our staff, which was once entirely German speaking, now represents many different cultures and linguistic groups. This can at times be a delicate situation, since many employees have been with Frankfurt School for dozens of years, long before anyone imagined being an internationally renowned business school. We have met this challenge, however, by providing important communications and documents in both English and German. In addition, we offer German and English language training for employees who wish to further develop in these areas. A diverse staff and student body presents a broad set of challenges, including learning, working and communication styles. By being mindful and respectful of cultural differences, we have been able to create a cohesive environment in which to learn and work.

Being aware of diverse cultural identities is OK, but we choose to celebrate diversity at Frankfurt School. In 2014, we demonstrated this commitment by signing the Charta der Vielfalt (the Diversity Charter). To mark our celebration of the 3rd annual German Diversity Day, our international student body hosted the annual FS International Day, featuring food and drinks from dozens of countries around the world. In addition to International Day, students host cultural events on campus like smaller dinners in our FS Dorms to celebrating Diwali to last year’s Land of Fire: Experience Azerbaijan evening. What’s more, we now offer scholarships that explicitly provide funding for young people from migrant backgrounds (START Stipendien), helping to make a top education at our business school a possibility. We choose to make diversity an important part of everyday life at Frankfurt School and in the past years it has been enriching, to say the least. One diversity issue that is faced by all administrators at business schools is how to increase the female student population. For one reason or another, a degree course at a private business school is generally not the first choice for young women across Germany as they start to plan their professional careers. We are taking various steps to break down the many preconceptions that continue to dog social expectations in this respect, all while attempting to make the whole idea of a business school education more attractive to women. Our participation in Germany’s nationwide Girls’ Day continues to inspire large numbers of girls to find out more about our degree courses and research work. 2013 saw another first: on one of our Bachelor Days, we organised a session entitled “Women in Business and Management – Off to a Flying Start” that was open to women only – the feedback was encouragingly positive. In addition, our Career Services team hosts a special series of events entitled “Ladies First” for all female students, which focuses on advancing women in business.

Girl's Day, 2014

Girl’s Day, 2014

As we strive to continue to position ourselves amongst the top international business schools of the world, it is our duty to embrace these principles, creating an inclusive campus, where diversity is celebrated. This is not just about changing the language and visuals used in our brochures or posters or hosting events for specific groups. First and foremost, we must inspire all members of staff with our vision of a truly international business school. Diversity must become a part of the everyday Frankfurt School experience – a celebrated aspect of our daily work and a positive feature of our shared workplace for every single member of our community.

Ladies First Event, Okt. 2014

Ladies First Event, Okt. 2014

——- Update 06.02.15—— This year I am also pleased to that we are able to announce that we offer generous scholarships to support female students in our Executive MBA programme. More details are available on our Homepage.