“Leading diverse and inclusive workplaces is not just important but imperative for organizational success and societal progress”

In this course leader interview, we asked Associate Professor and course leader Minna Paunova about her journey in the field of leadership and diversity. Additionally, she shared insights about the upcoming online course “Leading Diverse and Inclusive Workplaces.”

Background and interest in the field

I am an international academic and consultant whose tapestry of experiences, over the last twenty years, have nurtured strong interest in diversity and inclusion. Currently, I serve as Associate Professor at Copenhagen Business School (CSB), Denmark, but I was born and raised in Bulgaria. I pursued important parts of my higher education, including my doctorate in Spain, with short stints abroad, including the United States.

“My work extends beyond geographical boundaries, reflecting a blend of insights gained from interactions within a truly global network of scholars and professionals.”

My journey is not only academic but also a deep dive into diverse cultural perspectives. My work extends beyond geographical boundaries, reflecting a blend of insights gained from interactions within a truly global network of scholars and professionals. For example, in addition to my full-time job at CBS, I am simultaneously active as Global Chair in the largest professional association in organizational behavior and management (the OB division of the Academy of Management) and as advisor and coach in a small Danish consultancy, Connecting Cultures. My professional passion for diversity and inclusion mirrors my multicultural and multilingual family life, which certainly enriches my understanding of diverse life perspectives and the importance of inclusive environments.

Growing up with several academics in my family has undoubtedly also played a role in shaping my intellectual curiosity and research ambitions. My life experiences introduced me to the challenges and opportunities presented by working in diverse teams across countries. The complexity of fostering equitable workplace dynamics in a globalized world, combined with my personal navigation through various landscapes, drove my passion to understand and enhance the relationship between leadership, collaboration, innovation, and equity in diverse organizational contexts.

I completed my PhD in Management, writing a dissertation on leadership in multinational teams. The dissertation was well-received and even won several awards, which convinced me not only of the academic but also of the practical relevance of studying the nexus of leadership and diversity. Over time, my research interests have broadened to encompass various dimensions of difference, such as age, gender, sexuality, and parenthood, influenced by both my professional encounters and personal evolution.

Career highlight and the importance of Diverse and Inclusive Workplaces

The highlight of my career has been the recognition of my work on the effects of nationality diversity on leadership in multinational teams. This acknowledgment, alongside seeing my research applied in real-world settings – public and private organizations in sectors as varied as healthcare, the arts, higher education, and financial services – underscores the impactful convergence of academic inquiry and practical application, emphasizing the relevance and necessity of addressing diversity and inclusion in today’s work environments.

In an era marked by rapid globalization and increasing awareness of social injustices, leading diverse and inclusive workplaces is not just important but imperative for organizational success and societal progress. The global spread of digital technologies and the interconnection it brings do not simplify D&I efforts; rather, they introduce new layers of complexity and highlight the tensions and trade-offs inherent in implementing these initiatives across diverse cultural landscapes. By engaging in open dialogues and leveraging our varied insights, we can work towards innovative and equitable solutions that respect cultural differences while promoting inclusivity and diversity across all levels of organizational life.

“I strive to contribute to the development of inclusive practices that not only enhance organizational performance but also promote a sense of fairness and belonging for every individual, irrespective of their background.”

I aim to understand and foster equitable workplace dynamics and outcomes in an increasingly complex, globalized world. My research aims to provide actionable insights that enable organizations to harness the full potential – and serve the needs – of their diverse workforce. By exploring the intersections of leadership, innovation, and equity within complex organizational contexts, I strive to contribute to the development of inclusive practices that not only enhance organizational performance but also promote a sense of fairness and belonging for every individual, irrespective of their background. Recognizing the gradual nature of research impact, I find great value and satisfaction in engaging with students and practitioners in my classrooms, learning alongside them.

About the upcoming online course

As we prepare to dive into the course on “Leading Diverse and Inclusive Workplaces”, I am excited to not only serve as course leader, but also to collaborate with five other exceptional scholars who bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to our discussions: Astrid Huopalainen and Laura Kangas-Müller (Finland), Radu Harald Dinu and Timur Umans (Sweden), and Miguel Morillas (Denmark).

Drawing on our collective expertise, the upcoming course is a unique blend of Nordic, European, and indeed, global insights, combined with practical strategies aimed at fostering meaningful change within organizations. Our collective expertise spans a broad range of contexts and together, we bring a wealth of knowledge from across different domains of D&I.

Together, we will explore the complexities of creating inclusive environments in a way that respects and leverages differences, preparing you to become a catalyst for positive change in your organizations and communities.


Course:  28th – 30th of May 2024 Online course

More informationCourse web page | Course registration | Last registration date: 6.5.2024

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