The HNU International Conference

The 'HNU International Conference' enables the Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences (HNU) to emphasise its global perspective and intensify its partnerships with international professors as well as with regional partners from politics, society and corporations.

The 'HNU International Conference' is dedicated to diverse topics of international academic and corporative interest. One of the special aspects of the series of conferences: the event is organised by HNU students within the framework of a compulsory subject in the degree programme Information Management and Corporate Communications together with incoming students of the ERASMUS programme.

The HNU Diversity Conference 2011

Diversity in corporations and institutions was the subject of the 'HNU Diversity Conference' at the HNU. On 28 and 29 June 2011 corporate representatives as well as professors from international partner universities presented aspects of diversity and discussed challenges and chances involved.

Peter Trube, member of the workers' council at Thyssen Krupp Steel, reported on how employees coming from different cultures work together. After the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center the corporation appointed one hundred 'Cultural mediators'. They have the task of accomplishing mutual respect and curiosity for the different cultures, solve friction in everyday business life and thus promote trust amongst each other.

Barbara Bergmeier, head of production at BMW, showed how companies can be responsive to an ageing workforce. She described how health care, design of the work environment and assigning people tasks suiting their abilities can increase quality and productivity.

Prof. Dr. Christiane Funken is a communication and medical sociologist from the Berlin Institute of Technology (TU Berlin). Her talk dealt with communication behaviour of men and women in business life. She presented the results of her study: "Women tend to pursue an information policy based on performance and relevance of the issues. They prefer to share their knowledge in written reports or via emails, or formalised in panels. Whereas men prefer a personalised information policy by e.g. informing seniors in personal discussions." Based on the findings gained from the study, media-suited instruments to equally support and advance careers of men as well as women can be developed.

The participants of the panel discussion agreed that corporations with diverse managements make better decisions than homogeneous teams. However, it is still a great challenge to improve diversity in corporations: "Senior managers tend to appoint employees who are similar to themselves", reported the President of the HNU, Prof. Dr. Uta M. Feser. "This is why the management board must be in charge of diversity management", urged Prof. Dr. Ulrike Reisach. She objected to the policy of many corporations to delegate that task to managers who are already under a lot of stress. Prof. Dr. Julia Künkele said that training senior managers was decisive for diversity being put into practice at all levels of a company. Ulrike Hudelmaier relies on a quota to regulate the ratio of men to women; and this quota can be used to bring in more men, e.g. in veterinary medicine, where 80% of vets are women.

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