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Meeting Convened in Paris with Key Accounts Managers: What Contribution Can a Business School Make to Enhance Corporate Diversity?

Publié le October 31, 2012, Mis à jour le June 24, 2014

EM Strasbourg Business School organized a meeting with Key Account managers in Paris on 17th October. The theme of the event focused on "Sourcing and Training: What Contribution Can a Business School Make to Enhance Corporate Diversity?". The occasion provided an opportunity for the school to both showcase its endeavours in this field and to actively listen to companies' needs.

For the past decade, diversity issues, including diversity management, have aroused sustained interest among academics and practitioners alike. Allowing a conversation between the two groups of experts was the very purpose of an event specifically geared to companies (1) and entitled “Sourcing and Training: What Contribution Can a Business School Make to Enhance Corporate Diversity?”, which was organised by EM Strasbourg Business School in Paris on 17th October. EM Strasbourg Dean Isabelle Barth together with Diversity Project Manager Sabrina Pérugien and Disability Project Manager Sarah Richard delivered a presentation on all the initiatives undertaken by the school in a little more than three years. As a testimony to its efforts, the school was awarded AFNOR's diversity label in 2012.

The forum allowed participants to identify some corporate expectations as regards what diversity-enhancing actions can be implemented by a business school, such as, in particular, ensuring that its future graduates are sensitised to diversity issues and act responsibly. In a globalised economy, according to a corporate executive, "managing diversity is a normal thing to do. Business schools must teach their students how to manage diverse people so as to more closely meet the needs of a global market".

Corporate participants also expressed their wish to recruit future managers who are fully familiar with the whole regulatory framework on non-discrimination in the workplace. In addition, they insisted that training programmes should not selectively focus on some discrimination criteria inasmuch as "there is no competition between criteria". In effect, too many students are still not cognizant of the fact that discrimination was made punishable by French law in 2001.

Difficulties in Recruiting Disabled Students

Two main hindrances for recruiting students with disabilities concern our ability to create a real breeding ground for disabled students and to better connect them with managers. What is at stake here is to facilitate onboarding and integration for this student population so as to allow their smooth induction into the workplace in the long run.

AFMD (French Association of Diversity Managers) President Bruce Roch summarised the mission of EM Strasbourg Business school in the following terms: 'First to offer managerial facilitation by imparting hard skills and then to allow its "workers", i.e. its students, to appropriate such knowledge'.

All in all, the diversity policy implemented by EM Strasbourg Business School was deemed to be a challenge for the future involving a radical shift in mindsets. What is required now is to ponder the best way to measure such a shift: what indicators should be used and how can student cohorts be followed up over time? Such are the areas for improvement that the school has identified.

(1) Participants included among others such companies as BNP Paribas, Bull, BPI Group, HP, La Poste, Médiamétrie, Ubiposting, Unilever France and institutions like Sciences-Po, Passerelle and Institut pratique du journalisme

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