At the Mannheim Business School (MBS), the Diversity@MBS event series reinforces the proposition for participants that diversity isn’t other people – diversity is everyone.
“In the Diversity@MBS series, we want to give voice to different groups,” says Sven Stromann, career development and diversity manager at MBS. The series kicked off in 2022 with Black@MBS, which presented the experiences of three different black participants and alumni.
The series also plans to take a detour from a traditional view of diversity by exploring ideas for sessions on a range of topics, such as Dads@MBS to discuss dads and business, childcare, and division of labor at home, Asian@MBS, Veterans@MBS, First-Time Academics@MBS, and Athletes@MBS as a few possibilities.
“What we’re trying to do at Mannheim Business School is make sure diversity is not limited to gender, not limited to whatever minority you might be part of, but diversity is actually every single one of us,” says Stromann. “We want people in the MBS network slowly – it’s not a matter of one day to the next – but slowly realize I have diversity in me. I’m a part of diversity.”
Mannheim also reinforces diversity through its multi-competence teams (MCTs), which it assembles with diversity criteria in mind. “They learn within their teams to appreciate the contributions of others and that everyone approaches topics differently,” he says.
“Students value their experience in MCTs,” says Bettina Meltzer, MBS marketing & communications and diversity manager. “When you ask alumni about their most memorable experience in the program, they often point to working in the MCTs,” she says.
Stromann and Meltzer collaborate on diversity initiatives within the school, which also offers students a Diversity Club with two communities, the Woman in Business Community and the Pride@MBS Community for LGBT+ and Straight Allies. The communities help promote networking among students and invited speakers.
Much of the diversity initiative involves what Stromann terms a push strategy, with MBS organizing events, bringing in speakers, or ensuring safe spaces for conversations.
Sometimes the opposite pull strategy happens, such as when an MBA class told administrators they wanted a diversity workshop. As a result, MBS developed an inclusion champions workshop, which received great feedback from class members.
MBS will continue to add to its diversity portfolio of activities and encourage the pull strategy as well.
“That’s what keeps us going, when we see these pull moments, when people are coming to us and needing or wanting something, when we see we are actually doing something that impacts people’s lives,” says Stromann.