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2012 Diversity Awards Winners Announced

Four champions of workplace diversity will be honored during the 24th annual Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity, the nation’s leading conference on diversity and inclusion, taking place March 20-22 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

The forum is designed for professionals who manage a diverse workforce, are responsible for diversity within their organization or work with a multicultural clientele. The Diversity Awards are given to individuals or organizations that show exemplary effort in addressing workplace diversity issues. Recipients will be honored during a special luncheon on Thursday March 22 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Recipients include:

  • Emily King (Wings of Change, Individual): King is a nationally recognized expert in the transition of military veterans to the civilian workforce and author of the first ever guide for civilian organizations, “Field Tested: Recruiting, Managing & Retaining Veterans.” She is a highly sought after speaker who has been featured in segments on CNN and NPR and sits on the board of advisors for the G.I. Jobs Military Friendly Employers Top 100. King’s passion for veterans and the challenges they face as they return home and to work is palpable and she is clearly the trendsetter for introducing companies and organizations to this pressing issue.
  • ConAgra Foods (Wings of Change, Organization): ConAgra has had department and staff dedicated to inclusion for just five years, but during that time, there has been significant work accomplished, including a rapid and strong implementation of highly engaged employee resource groups and a more inclusive benefits package for employees; an increase of women in management positions from 19 to 30% and minorities from 7 to 10%; development of a summer camp for minority high school students focused on creating a pipeline in science, technology, engineering and math; and in partnership with local Bellevue University, the creation of a D&I certification program, inviting professionals from around the U.S. to participate.
  • The City of Brooklyn Park’s Human Rights Commission (Wings of Change, Organization): At a time when volunteer human rights commissions are taking a beating from elected officials and paid staff of cities through the state, the City of Brooklyn Park’s Human Rights Commission has the full support of city government. In a diverse city where just over 50% of citizens consider themselves white, the Commission challenges city government in recruitment, engagement and retention policies and practices to ensure that city workforce demographics mirror those of city residents. The Commission also promotes active engagement in governance by residents with individual commissioners working to build inclusivity and break down barriers in race, ethnicity, country of origin and language. The Commission’s strategic plan focuses on education, community building, public policy, accountability and handling of complaints.
  • Lyle H. Iron Moccasin (Friend of the Forum): Iron Moccasin is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation of South Dakota. After growing up in Minnesota and New York City, serving in the U.S. Navy and the New York City police force, Iron Moccasin returned to Minneapolis to put his life experiences to work for the Native community by joining American Indian Opportunities Industrialization Center (AIOIC). During his employment at AIOIC, he has worked in juvenile justice, ex-offender, employment and education programs addressing the issues the Indian community faces. Since 2003, Iron Moccasin has been the Forum’s guide for addressing the issues of displaced communities, the Native community and youth education and employment. He is the go-to person to get things done, whether moving crowds of people or multiple heavy boxes.

Registration is still open for the conference, including the diversity awards luncheon. Participants can choose to attend either the full three-day conference from March 20-22, 2012, or single conference days. Special rates for travel and accommodations are available. For more information and to register, visit


General Topics

Changing the Game: Innovative Strategies For Harnessing the Power of Female Talent

By Trudy Bourgeois, president and CEO, The Center for Workforce Excellence

The first question that may come to mind when we read this title is:  WHY?  Why change the game?  Why now?  Why women?

The answer to those questions is based on boatloads of research and factual data surrounding us today.  Research found in the book by Bridget Brennan entitled, Why She Buys, reports that women in America make over 80% of the buying decisions and spend approximately $5 trillion annually – over half the U.S. GDP. In addition, in 2010 women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history.  For every two men that got a college diploma last year, three women did the same. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that women now hold 51.4% of managerial and professional jobs—up from 26.1% in 1980. They make up 54% of all accountants and hold about half of all banking and insurance jobs. About a third of America’s physicians are now women, as are 45% of associates in law firms—and both those percentages are rising quickly.

In addition, research proves that organizations that are intentional about building a workforce from top to bottom that reflect the face of the consumer (the majority of which are women as we saw above) are more profitable.

A recent Pepperdine study ( tracked the performance of Fortune 500 companies with a strong record of promoting women to the executive suite and compared their performance to that of other firms in the same industries.  The results were astounding.  For every year between 2001-2007, the companies identified as being the best at promoting women outperformed the industry median on all three profitability measures  (i.e. overall profits 34% higher when calculated for revenue, 18% higher in terms of assets and 69% higher in regard to equity).  Furthermore, the 10 firms with the very best records of promoting women showed greater profit results than the firms that were merely very good.

After studying these facts, the question in our minds must now be:  HOW CAN WE?

HOW CAN WE harness the representative power and value that women bring to the equation?   HOW CAN WE authenticate gender talent management strategies and thrive in today’s global business world by fully leveraging the majority workforce available to us?  HOW CAN WE experience greater profit results by doing so?

Join me for a highly-interactive and fast-paced session on March 21st from 10:15-11:45 a.m. as I share insights and in-the-trenches strategies on HOW TO harness female talent – and fully reap the results of doing so.

My featured guest will be the Chief Diversity Officer of General Mills, Kenneth Charles.  General Mills is a 2011 recipient of the cherished ‘Best Places to Work’ award.  They are a leading global company that is achieving breakout results because they have been intentional about deploying meaningful talent management strategies.  This includes being deliberate about leveraging their female talent.

Come collaborate and learn how your organization can build new talent management strategies that are guaranteed to create newfound success.

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  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