The project "DNA – Using and Accepting Diversity" is a joint research project with participants from IKOBE gGmbH, Institute for Competence and Talent, and the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences. As project coordinators, Dr. Edwin Semke and Prof. Dr. Petia Genkova are conducting a comparative study of the application of culture-fair recruitment and assessment procedures in business enterprises.
The aim of the project is to investigate the extent of cultural diversity at the universities of Osnabrück and Munich, further universities and nationwide companies over a period of twenty-four months, as well as the transition of MINT graduates into employment with different diversity characteristics.
An application for funding was submitted within the framework of the Innovation and Technology Analysis (ITA) of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
IKOBE gGmbH - Institute for Competence and Talent - offers companies and individuals objective test results and a basis for decision-making through measuring instruments and test procedures.
Dr. Edwin Semke is the managing director of the institute for competence and talent gGmbH in Munich and lecturer at the university of applied sciences Munich with the emphasis “personnel guidance and communication techniques”, as well as “perception psychology”. His activity as a Coach refers to the emphasis “occupation orientation”, “personnel development”, “guidance behavior”, “Interculturality and diversity” and “test development”. After studying psychology and biology, Mr. Semke worked for 15 years in adult education for various training providers in management positions. During this time, he developed training and education formats, mainly in the field of intercultural competence and communication, conflict resolution and moderation, which were used by various target groups, such as young people, adults with and without a migration background, employees of companies and authorities and managers.
Prof. Dr. Genkova is Professor of Business Psychology (W2) at the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences at Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences, where she holds seminars and lectures on topics such as diversity, gender, and business psychology. In addition to her teaching activities, Prof. Dr. Genkova has been involved in several research projects since 1994. Her main focus was the in-depth research of intercultural competence, intercultural communication and diversity. More information on the publications and research projects of Prof. Dr. Genkova can be found at her website.
The applicants receive support from the Bavarian State Ministry of Economics and Media, Energy and Technology, as well as from the Bavarian State Ministry of Education and Culture, Science and Arts and the IHK Munich and Upper Bavaria.
The DNA research project focuses on the topic of cultural diversity. The research project relates to the investigation of different diversity characteristics of working people in Germany.
The employment of a person plays an important role in different areas of this person's life. Especially for migrants or people with a migration background, employment is necessary for a successful social integration. Successful integration into the labor market leads, apart from material resources, to integration into social networks and ensures a positive self-esteem (Gestring et al., 2006).
This is a negative aspect, considering the fact that the number of employed people without a migrant background greatly exceeds the number of those with a migrant background. Of 15.3 million migrants, only 1.7 million were employed in 2012 (microcensus, 2012), although 78.3% of men and 60% of women with a migrant background were available to the labor market (ebenda). Many different factors are cited as the cause for the low employment rate among migrants, but these alone are not sufficient. It is possible that the selection process may play a role in the distribution of studies and jobs. The selection makes it considerably more difficult for people with a migration background to gain access into a labor market (Imdorf, 2010).
In order to counteract this problem, companies try to make the labor market fairer by applying culture-fair recruitment procedures.
The aim of the DNA research project is to investigate the methods and tools of personnel selection in host companies and to establish connections between the readiness for application of culture-fair procedures and various aspects such as different regional situations, company size and other non-culture-specific characteristics such as gender and age.
The project coordinators have formulated questions to the aims:
- Which form of cultural diversity becomes visible at Bavarian colleges and universities in MINT subjects and how can it be reliably recorded?
- What is the quantitative relationship of groups with cultural diversity characteristics in the studies?
- How successful is the transition of graduates with cultural diversity characteristics into employment?
- Which systemic and operational characteristics (company size, markets, internationality, respect for diversity, demand for specialists and managers) favor the transition, which aggravate it?
- What measures are taken in companies to observe, enable and use cultural diversity?
- How can the effectiveness of these measures be proven? Are there examples of best-practice-examples and generalizable recommendations?
- Is the effectiveness of measures taken different from cultural diversity groups in terms of age and gender?
The achievement of the research goals is determined by a structured approach to the questions and their clarification in the following milestones. These represent the course of the project.
The first section examines the extent of cultural diversity at universities in Bavaria in MINT areas using three different data sources. The evaluation is based on the enrolment data of the students, the specially collected data and the data of the 21st Social Survey of the Deutsches Studentenwerk. In addition, the data from the survey of MINT graduates regarding their application success is used. The IKOBE Institute and the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences will carry out the survey at different university locations. The first section thus represents the prerequisites and the starting point for the following aims.
The publication of a status report with the results concludes the first milestone.
The study of cultural diversity at universities in Bavaria is followed by the selection of economic clusters and the classification of these companies according to their size into large, medium and small enterprises. Subsequently, the application of culture-fair methods and procedures within the personal selection is quantitatively recorded. The use of such so-called cultural fair methods serves the strengthen of cultural diversity and the improvement of the cooperation of a company with a target group.
In addition, the transition of certain diversity groups into employment is recorded and examined in relation to the size of the company and the economic regions. This is restricted to MINT sectors.
This goal serves the verification of a connection between culture-fair procedures and the hiring of people with a migration background. The direct relation between culture-fair selection procedures and the actual application success of people with different diversity characteristics will be examined.
Within the framework of a research project, it is necessary to document the progress and results both completely and correctly. This is an important so that all project participants and interested parties have access to current and relevant information. Therefore, this milestone includes the documentation of the results as a status and a final report. Working papers are supplemented by presentations and lectures at congresses, as well as publications in journal articles. The publications of the results include the statistical recording of groups with cultural diversity characteristics at universities and the readiness and effectiveness of the cultural-fair procedures. At the end of the DNA project, a high-profile conference will be held in Munich, at which partners and participants of the project will participate.
As a complementary objective to the three core goals, aim 4 is the continuous presentation of the project and its results. Within this milestone, the public relations, the sustainability and the promotion of young academics will be taken on. Preliminary reports, blogs and newsletters serve to arouse attention and ensure that it is maintained.
Within the framework of the research project "DNA – Using and Accepting Diversity", a large amount of data is collected. This data provides information about cultural diversity at colleges and universities as well as information about cultural diversity in business companies. The insights gained from this data not only fill a research gap concerning the transition to employment of graduates with cultural diversity characteristics, but also provide information on the design and dissemination of procedures for intercultural personal selection.
The obtained results lead to the uncovering of numerous interrelations. The personal migration background may have an impact on the intercultural quality and thus on the type of the used selection instruments. This in turn has an impact on the application success of persons with a migration background.
The DNA project also investigates many connections between different company characteristics, different regional situations and the readiness of application of cultural fair procedures. After the completion of the project, there will be a basis for more in-depth research with further differentiations and the investigation of further interrelationships. The results provide a good starting point for further future research, both in terms of other economic sectors and other regions.
Within the research project, business enterprises are included and addressed directly. The selection mechanisms and the procedures in these companies will be improved due to the increased attention and sensitization and will be designed more culture-fairly. Just the consideration of the nature of a selection procedure can lead to an improvement. That is a so-called action research.