CBS Diversity Day is (still) a valuable event

Skrevet af Jannick Friis ChristensenJesper Snedker Adamsen, (versioning) - Foto: Thomas Flensted-Jensen - 25. marts 2015 - 18:430 kommentarer
A flash mob took center stage at the Diversity Day, but the mob disappeared in a flash after just 30 seconds of dancing. However, it was more than enough to gather a large crowd of enthusiastic spectators. (Click for more pictures from the event).

The focus of this year’s edition of CBS Diversity Day was the question of whether or not attention to diversity and variety pays off. Spoiler alert: it does! This was most certainly the conclusion the panel debate spawned, but this conclusion was also helped by the many impressions gathered from the colorful and diverse crowd that made up the 'Human Library’.    

…But does it pay off?

Focus on diversity is unquestionably a solid investment. That is the opinion of the project manager of Diversity Day, Gunvor Granerud, as she reflects on last Thursday’s event at Solbjerg Plads.

- Take for example the eight volunteers who helped plan this year’s Diversity Day; they were recruited from eight different undergraduate programs and combined they represent four different nationalities, says Gunvor Granerud and continues:

- I have no doubts that a large portion of the success we experienced today is the direct result of our collaborative efforts.

However, despite the project manager’s firm belief, the tagline of this year’s Diversity Day was: “Does variety pay off?”

Diversity for the sake of diversity

The panel debate was moderated by CBS’ Equal Opportunities Officer, Lynn Roseberry, and the four debaters agreed that focus on diversity is a solid investment for businesses.

However, one of the debaters, Sara Louise Muhr, Associate Professor, the Department of Organization, questioned the alleged benefits of diversity from the perspective of dividend focus.

She consistently argued against the notion that women are able to contribute something unique to the corporate sector just because they are women and thus allegedly possess a variety of extra special feminine qualities.

And, as Sara Louise Muhr argued, if you accept the discourse that women have something extra special to offer, you consequently contribute to widening the distance between the genders as you, in this specific example, stigmatize women as a group that has access to extra special “feminine” qualities, which can be exploited financially.

In other words, she argued, you become blind to the possible gender-specific expectations to management in general and to individual colleagues in particular; she then proceeded to illustrate her point with an example involving a transgender woman, who experienced a shift in her colleagues’ attitudes towards her after her sex change operation.

Take out a fate from the 'Human Library'

One of the main objectives of this year’s Diversity Day was to show that the debate on diversity embraces much more than just gender equality.

In the 'Human Library’ you could get a glimpse of just how embracive the subject of diversity is. In the library attendees had the opportunity to meet ‘live books’, i.e. individuals, who, provoked by their lifestyle, ethnicity, handicap, sexuality, or social status have experienced discrimination as a consequence of people’s prejudices and biased views.

The “dyslexic” and the “rape victim” were both ‘on loan’; however, the “long-term unemployed” had just been returned and thus was able to engage in conversation with CBS OBSERVER. And wouldn’t you know it; it turns out that the person behind the title was in no way lazy or indolent, contrary to what many might be tempted to believe.

Actually, he is not unemployed either because, as he puts it; being jobless is hard work. His name is Jens Andersen and he is an MA. He hopes that his participation in CBS Diversity Day will help people understand that different people make different choices and have different sets of circumstances.

A major success and still a priority area

Judging by the number of registered participants on Facebook, this year’s edition of the Diversity Day outdid itself compared to last year’s edition as 338 students registered for this year’s event, which is more than twice as many as last year.

- My ambitions before the Diversity Day were that this year’s event should be even bigger, more festive, and have twice as many participants, says Gunvor Granerud and concludes that:

- Before knowing the results of the evaluation forms we collected during the event, it already looks like we managed to fulfill our goals.

Whether or not the event will return next year is still uncertain as Lynn Roseberry has decided to resign from her position as Equal Opportunities Officer. However, she assures us that sufficient efforts will be devoted to finding a solution; and Gunvor Granerud is certain that diversity pays off and that CBS will benefit from continued focus on diversity and inclusion.