The topics of responsibility and sustainability have been an integral part of the University of St. Gallen for several decades. We frequently refer to the “triple bottom line”: Companies must act economically, ecologically and in a socially responsible way. The recently published “Report on Responsibility and Sustainability” demonstrates the wide range of engagements at the University of St. Gallen in these areas. Our chair for environmental economics dates back to the year 1969, and since then we have launched a variety of institutes, centers and initiatives in the pursuit of sustainability and responsibility. We would like to highlight two examples from this report, both of which have a special focus on increasing the number of women in management positions.
The topics of «diversity and inclusion» and “gender equality” are key areas of the UN Principles. The Competence Centre for Diversity & Inclusion (CCDI) and the executive education programme “Women Back to Business”, which was launched more than 10 years ago, make significant contributions to these areas. Both initiatives were developed by Prof. Dr. Gudrun Sander.
More innovation and sustainability thanks to diverse teams
The Competence Centre for Diversity & Inclusion (CCDI) is part of the Research Institute for International Management (FIM-HSG). Besides conducting innovative research in the area of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I), CCDI also supports companies in developing and implementing D&I strategies and measures, delivering training sessions on the topic of unconscious bias, and analysing D&I key performance indicators.
Studies show that more diverse teams are frequently more innovative, which is a key success factor for many companies. Yet many of these companies are increasingly having to deal with a lack of qualified professionals in the market. Managers depend on facts in order to successfully recruit and retain qualified personnel and ensure the long-term success of their companies. CCDI has been setting the standard in this area for many years with the St. Gallen Diversity Benchmarking, which enables participating companies to compare themselves with industry peers. The St. Gallen Diversity Benchmarking answers questions like, how attractive are we as an employer? Do other companies recruit and retain more successfully than we do? Do we have a fair promotion process? Do women and men receive equal pay for equal work in our company? The anonymised HR-data of all participating companies are compared, providing accurate and conclusive results. Each company receives an individual report identifying strengths and weaknesses as well as concrete areas for action.
The St. Gallen Diversity Benchmarking not only enables individual companies to determine where they stand in comparison to other firms and where action is required, but also helps entire industries or sectors of the economy to make progress in the areas of gender equality and D&I. This has been demonstrated in the Gender Intelligence Report , which is commissioned annually by ADVANCE Women in Swiss Business for its member companies. The goal is for these companies to achieve greater diversity, which can lead to more innovation, better collaboration in teams and ultimately to greater economic success. The St. Gallen Diversity Benchmarking is a best practice example of how the University of St. Gallen brings together research and practice for maximum impact.
Building bridges “back to business”
There are more than 50’000 women in Switzerland who have a university degree and have either left the workforce due to family responsibilities or are working below their qualifications. Many of these women express having difficulties returning to work or advancing to a more challenging position. The “Women Back to Business” programme was developed specifically with these women in mind. Participants are updated on the lastest management topics and actively prepare their own career relaunch through coaching sessions, interview trainings and special workshops. The programme was designed for compatibility with family and part-time work, which is why modules last a maximum of 2-3 days at a time. Many renowned companies have partnered with the “Women Back to Business” programme, and participants complete an internship or project assignment in either a partner company or other organisation, thus ensuring a bridge between education and practical application.
Step by step to more women in management
These two very successful initiatives are just two examples of the manifold engagements of the University of St. Gallen for more responsibility and sustainability. They aim to help reduce the shortage of qualified professionals and managers in the job market and to keep the Swiss economy innovative and competitive through greater diversity.
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