Diversity in Firm and Ethics

ETI451 Diversity in Firm and Ethics

Autumn 2021

  • Topics

    Societies as well as firms increasingly become diverse in terms of the composition of the workforce. Equality is high on the political agenda and more and more firms acknowledge that in order to recruit the best workers they need a profile inviting diverse groups of workers and offering attractive careers. Firms must follow anti-discrimination laws but also increasingly integrate equality and business ethics as part of their corporate management strategy. The goal of the course is to study the relations between discrimination in labour markets and the business ethics of organizations. The course discusses related questions and cases with an emphasis on gender, but also include diversity with respect to race, sexual orientation etc.

    The course starts with a general introduction to managing business and ethical values. What do we mean by ethical values in business and why are those important for management? How are decisions made on a sound ethical basis? What is corporate social responsibility? We then turn to diversity in firms and ethics. We introduce the topic by discussing whether there is a business case for diversity. Do firms perform better if they have more women in the management or on boards? We learn about the challenges to treat everybody equal in terms of work and pay in organizations. We discuss ethical issues that arise related to discriminatory behaviour in a legal sense. The course uses empirical studies to train students to get an understanding of discriminatory behaviour. Students use cases to learn to identify ethical dilemmas in gender diverse businesses and find solutions taking the position as a corporate manager or as an employee. The case discussions take place in groups during the lecture sessions.


    The course outline is:

    1. Introduction: Managing business and ethics

    2. Discriminatory behavior and business ethics

    3. Ethical issues inside the organization and anti-discrimination legislation

    4. Managing ethics in gender diverse organizations

  • Learning outcome

    Upon completion of the course the candidate:



    • Has an understanding of diversity management and ethical issues with particular emphasis on gender and discriminatory behavior
    • Has broad knowledge of the laws of anti-discrimination legislation
    • Has knowledge of empirical evidence in this field
    • Has knowledge on core issues related to how to manage diverse businesses



    • Can apply academic knowledge and relevant results of research to practical problems and make well-founded choices
    • Can reflect upon his/her own academic practice and adjust it during the dialogues with co-students in group discussions of case studies
    • Can find, evaluate and refer to information and scholarly subject matter and present it in a manner that sheds light on the problem



    • Has insight into relevant professional issues of discriminatory behaviour in the workplace
    • Can communicate important subject matters such as models, problems and solutions, both in writing and orally
    • Can exchange opinions and experiences with others with a background in the field, thereby contributing to the development of good practice

  • Teaching

    This course is 2.5 credit points and meets five times (three hours each) during January to March. It is case based, supported by lectures and guest lectures. Two of the cases require more extensive reading and students are expected to come well prepared to the case discussions. These discussions will take place in class both in smaller groups (4-6 students) and larger groups (at most 40 students). The term project is to write a short-term paper (approx. 5-7 pages), which is a group assignment, due in March. The student teams will also present the term project in March 2021. For a detailed course outline, see canvas.

    We follow NHH guidelines related to the COVID 19 health crisis regarding teaching during spring 2021.

    Lectures will be held in the auditorium. Lectures will be filmed or supplemented by videos, but case discussions will NOT be filmed. If teaching in the auditorium is not possible then we move to zoom or alternative platforms.

  • Recommended prerequisites


  • Required prerequisites


  • Requirements for course approval

    Since case discussions are essential for learning in this course, is class attendance mandatory. Students should attend every class, also those with visiting speakers. While I may grant permission to miss a class for personal reasons, you need to ask for permission in advance. A student missing more than one class without prior approval will fail the course.

    Case discussions and lectures can be organized digitally for those who cannot meet physically.

    This course will be closed for registration after the first lecture.

  • Assessment

    The grade is based on a portfolio consisting of class participation (approximately 40%), a written term paper and the presentation of this term paper (approximately 60%). One grade is given for the entire portfolio. Grading scale A-F.

    Class participation is individual effort. The evaluation of class participation will mainly be based on the case discussions in small and larger groups. It will reflect the quality of a student's comments and insights, as well as the intensity of participation. There is no makeup for a missed class.

    The term project is a group assignment, with a written term paper and a presentation as deliveries. The term paper can be written in English or Norwegian. The presentation takes place in English.

    The assignment is to identify and discuss a current ethical dilemma related to diversity in business. Students can choose a topic from a list of suggested topics by the course instructor or find their own. In order to prepare for the term project, students need to work through the course material including the relevant book chapters, cases and articles from the reading list. The assignment essay should be 5-7 pages, and 2000 to max. 2800 words in 12pt times new roman. Students work in a group of 2-4 students*. They are expected to develop in the group the topic, link it to the course material, discuss the solution and write the paper.

    Students decide on the topic and list of group members of the termpaper during the course (approx. end of January). Deadline for submitting the written termpaper is in March. The specific dates will be announced at the beginning of the semester. The submitted termpapers will be graded A-F and returned to the students. Afterwards, students hold short presentations of their findings in the assignment papers, which are followed by a discussion. Students will again work in groups. After the presentations, the final grade for the written term paper will be formed. This grade makes up for 60 % of the total grade.

    Case discussions and lectures, as well as presentation can be organized digitally for those who cannot meet physically.

    The grades awarded may not be appealed due to the nature of the assessment.

    This course will be closed for registration after the first lecture

    *The size of the group may be adjusted depending on how many take the course. 

  • Grading Scale

    Grading scale A-F.

  • Computer tools


  • Literature

    Core reference:

    Trevino, Linda K. and Katherine A. Nelsen (2017): Managing Business Ethics - Straight talk about how to do it right, Wiley. Available as e-book.

    There will also be a list of cases and articles that will be announced in class.


ECTS Credits
Teaching language

Spring. Offered Spring 2021.

Course responsible

Professor Astrid Kunze, Department of Economics.