Studies show that a diverse workforce benefits the entire company. But “diversity and inclusion” is a phrase used so often (it even has an acronym: D&I) that it can be easy to forget that the phrase represents objectives many workplaces are still struggling to achieve.
Diversity encompasses more than gender, race, age or religion; it also includes a consideration of skills, competencies, philosophies and life experiences. And inclusion is about more than simply meeting hiring goals, it’s about bringing diverse people into the decision-making process and allowing their experiences and perspectives to guide the direction of an organization.
The University of St. Thomas recognizes that diversity needs to be reflected not just in our curriculum, but also in our student, faculty, administrative and staff populations, in our culture and in our organizational structures. As a way of broadening the conversation, the Forum on Workplace Inclusion at the Opus College of Business hosts an annual conference to advance ideas and ignite change around the topics of diversity, inclusion and equity. This comprehensive experience, which is the largest conference on diversity and inclusion in the nation, is designed for business executives, leaders and managers of diverse workforces, employee resource group members, organizational development practitioners, and training and development staff. It's also open to anyone who wants to know more about how they can positively impact diversity and inclusion initiatives in their workplace.
This year's conference, held March 29-31, features keynote speakers who are at the top of this field, 58 sessions on a variety of topics, a marketplace and a career fair. Some of the conference highlights will include:
Professional Career Fair, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., March 30
Minneapolis Convention Center
Progressive organizations know that there is no "one size fits all" solution for hiring and retaining a diverse workforce. Whether discrimination and bias is conscious or unconscious, it's likely to have a negative impact on the organization and the performance of those who work there. The Forum's Career Fair is a professional-level event with free coaching for candidates featuring workshops, tools and more than 40 progressive organizations recruiting career-minded professionals. Register to attend.
Special Focus: Business Impact, March 31
The third day of the conference will have the unique focus of "business impact". Speakers on this day include:
Impact with Caroline Wanga, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, Target
What does it take to make a difference? Meet five panelists from the advertising, tech, sports, retail and financial industries who take risks with their reputations and move their organizations forward with a "no regrets" attitude in order to take their diversity and inclusion work to the next level. This general session will be moderated by Caroline Wanga, vice president of diversity and inclusion for Target and featuring JD Michaels (BBDO); Lisa Hotran (Intel); Billy Bean (Major League Baseball); Tony Byer (Starbucks); and John Lake, Wells Fargo. The panelists will share their stories and describe both the impact they've made and the controversial feedback they've received.
Lunch and General Closing Session: Bill George, Former CEO of Medtronic, Senior Fellow at Harvard Business School
Where are you on your journey toward authentic leadership and how will you use your unique skills to address D&I issues at your organization? Bill George, former chairman and CEO of Medtronic and a senior fellow at Harvard Business School, will discuss how to find your "true north," the internal compass that sets one on a path toward their fullest potential as a leader and a concept he first presented in his book, Discover Your True North. All registered attendees will receive a free copy of the book. Don't miss this inspiring call to action!