A Time for Innovation, General Topics

T-minus one month: Making the case for the 2012 Multicultural Forum

By Sue Plaster, M.Ed., Owner, Sue Plaster Consulting

The 2012 Multicultural Forum for Workplace Diversity is now six weeks away. Have you registered, or are you still working on how you’ll approach your supervisor to ask for the money and time to attend?

I’ve worked in both corporate and nonprofit settings and know how recession and budget problems can make conference attendance seem “nice to” rather than “must do.”

Some thoughts for you if you are making your case this week for Forum attendance:

  • Make use of the Forum’s program tracks to plan your attendance. Think about your organization’s needs, as well as those of the clients and ERGs you work with. Crossing over tracks may be your best strategy, based on your needs profile.
  • Dig into not just the keynote speakers, but Institute and workshop presenters. Read their program descriptions and bios. Once you get the go-ahead to attend, you may want to contact a couple of speakers to arrange to meet them while at the Forum. Build even stronger connections in our field by seizing the opportunity.
  • Maybe you can’t attend every session you want to.:)  Find a colleague from your organization or another one, arrange which sessions you will attend, and brief one other in person afterward. Speaker handouts are often available in session or on the Forum Website.  Your supervisor will be able to see that you are getting greater value out of your ticket by “super-attending” the Forum.
  • Create your “share plan.” How will you personally ensure that what happens at the Forum doesn’t stay at the Forum?  Create your list of those with whom you can share key insights, data, tools and inspiration from the Forum. Plan how you will share so it is meaningful and timely for them. When is the next meeting of your Diversity Council or ERGs, or your HR department?  How many people can you reach? What channels will work best for them?
  • Don’t forget your supervisor. Find a way to distill a “Best of the Forum” package for your supervisor in whatever medium she or he will find most useful.  Make it easy for your supervisor to see the value of your attendance by sharing the value.  One of my staff members briefed me thoroughly, with handouts, after attending major national conference. We both gained from her attendance.
  • With your supervisor’s support, you may also prepare an “executive briefing” for leaders and diversity sponsors in your organization, to share a few key insights from the Forum and tell what impact they had on you or what they could mean for your organization.

Have I helped you prepare for your conversation about your Forum registration? Post your reactions or questions, or email me at plaster.sue@gmail.com.  I am excited to be presenting at 3:30-5:00 on Thursday, March 22 in Session W6G.  Our topic is “Creating Space for That Learning ‘Moment’:  A Practicum for Diversity Educators.” Our attention will be on one of the most exciting and fulfilling aspects of diversity work:  facilitating and leading diversity education.

Can’t wait to meet you at the Forum!

Sue Plaster

Register today at http://www.stthomas.edu/mcf/

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