The Multicultural Forum was held April 10-11, at the Minneapolis Convention Center with a spring snowstorm adding another dimension to the conference, especially for out-of-state visitors from warmer climes.
The Forum celebrated its 25th anniversary, culminating with a name change to The Forum on Workplace Inclusion. This new moniker reflects societal changes and a refocusing of the Forum’s agenda. Inclusion leads to engagement, innovation, productivity, and employee retention. Does your workplace value these variables? If not, what is the cost of not including, valuing, and listening to “others”? Considering business’ focus on financial outcomes—follow the money. Organizations and businesses are recognizing the economic benefit to the bottom line when they value and practice inclusion.
I was able to attend a variety of sessions. Highlights:
On Wednesday June 13 General Mills CEO Ken Powell made a brief announcement that General Mills as a corporation is in opposition to the marriage amendment that will be on the Minnesota ballot this fall. His decision is explained and discussed in this blog post written by Ken Charles, Vice President of Global Diversity and Inclusion for General Mills.
While, General Mills doesn’t normally take positions on ballot measures, this is a business issue that impacts our employees.
I am proud to see our company join the ranks of local and national employers speaking out for inclusion. We do not believe the proposed constitutional amendment is in the best interests of our employees or our state economy – and as a Minnesota-based company we oppose it.
We value diversity. We value inclusion. We always have … and we always will.
While we all have our own beliefs and feelings about this issue, and we all need to respect the beliefs and values of each other, but what makes the decision of General Mills significant is that they are basing it on the business case, saying that for them to continue to attract and retain the best possible talent of all cultures and orientations, it is imperative that everyone feel valued and included in the society where they live. By constitutionally excluding any group from fully participating in the local society, General Mills believes they will not be able to continue attracting and retaining the best people to make their corporation succeed.
The 24th annual Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity, A Time for Innovation, was held last month at the Minneapolis Convention Center. More than 900 participants joined by over 750 exhibitors and career fair candidates filled the convention center halls and meeting rooms to hear presentations by diversity experts and to interact with each other. Attendees came from 26 states and more than 300 organizations. The 162 presenters in 64 sessions represented more than 114 corporate, educational, government, legal and nonprofit organizations.
Highlights included keynotes by Carol Evans, president of Working Mother Media, Steve Frost, head of diversity and inclusion for the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics and Sergio Rial, CFO of Cargill. Each had a unique perspective on the global implications of diverse and inclusive workplaces and the impact that has on innovation.
Conference director, Steve Humerickhouse, along with OCB Dean, Christopher Puto, welcomed the assembly on the first morning. In his address, Humerickhouse spurred on participants with these words:
Workplaces are one of the few places in society where we don’t get to choose who we associate with. With this in mind, understanding different backgrounds and viewpoints is important for being successful in business. Each person’s background defines their world, said Howard Ross. When we hear “diversity,” for many it brings up a “them v. us” feeling, rather than one of inclusion.
Over the past 20 years, we have seen a steady polarizing trend in our country…a movement toward a “them vs. us” way of thinking and acting. The resulting impact on our organizations, our political structure, our economy and our communities threaten the foundations that we hold most dear. A recent Diversity Insights Series conversation brought Howard Ross to campus to discuss why this dynamic happens and what we can do to begin to bridge these gaps in our lives.
Howard Ross is one of the nation’s leading diversity training consultants and a nationally recognized expert on diversity, leadership, and organizational change. He founded Cook Ross in 1989 as a consulting firm dedicated to developing and implementing innovative solutions in diversity and inclusion. In his 90-minute talk, to a (diverse) group of business people from around the Twin Cities, Ross explained how our culture has changed and provided 8 ways to impact our unconscious reactions to “us vs. them.”
This guest post from Richard Friend, Ph.D., Friend and Associates originally appeared on the Multicultural Forum blog.
If leadership involves the use of self to influence others, and leaders at their best are lifelong learners, this is the perfect time of year to commit to the ongoing self-development required to enhance YOUR diversity and inclusion (D&I) leadership potential. Below are 12 statements to ponder, one per month, over the next year. Explore each statement in writing then discuss them and solicit feedback from your colleagues, trusted friends, family members and from those whose followership you are trying to inspire and mobilize. Pay attention to the themes that emerge each month as you contemplate each of the statements, and notice the patterns that surface during this year long self-reflection process.
Since people follow people before they follow plans, leadership development at its core is a journey inward. The first set of statements focus on knowing yourself, building authenticity and aligning your actions with your values. The remaining few focus more outward on the leadership resources required to influence others.
Well over 1000 registered attendees, speakers, volunteers, and exhibitors from 35 states and Canada gathered at the Minneapolis Convention Center last Wednesday and Thursday for the 22nd annual Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity.
The highlight for me this year was hearing Craig Herkert, CEO of SUPERVALU tell his personal journey of discovering the business imperatives of understanding and including diversity in the grocery business.