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Bridging the Bridge to Belonging Part 1 Recap


On November 12th and 13th, I had the opportunity to attend the Conference Board’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Conference. This year’s theme was “Bridging The Bridge To Belonging”. This is a recap of my experience of the event on the first day.

Over 1.5 days, we had over 10 speakers including myself. My presentation discussed common types of privilege and various ways to approach the conversation (i.e. the PIE Method). Feel free to reach out to me about the method.


The first day started with Laura Sabattini a principal researcher at the Conference Board. She welcomed us and shared her perspective on how belonging is at the core of D&I.

Lisa Gutierrez from Indiana University Health held a session on “Dimensions and Connections” focused on defining the IT when it comes to diversity and inclusion. She emphasized that, to truly belong in the workplace, we need a common language and buy in from the top executives. Lisa had the audience perform a word challenge exercise. Each person had to come up with 10 words associated with the word diversity. At my table of seven, no one had the same 10 words!


Amy Cappellanti-Wolf from Symantec shared the firm’s 3-pillar approach to D&I. The focus was on defining D&I and amplifying it at the top, identifying business processes where bias creeps in and develop inclusive leadership practices. Symantec spent their energy on recognition and within one year there were over 38,000 recognition moments. New hires were 3x less likely to leave in the first year when they were recognized. This shouldn’t be a surprise as recognition is one way to ensure individuals are seen and valued. The effort to recognize someone is not difficult and can be as simple as acknowledging her/his work or mentioning him/her in a team meeting. In 2018, I sent over 2100 recognition awards at SAP to thank people who had taken our D&I training. Each one of those was also seen by the person’s manager. I am proud to say that out of 96,000 SAP staff, I am the 2nd person to send the most awards in our organization.


Michelle Fang’s session from Turo was impressive. She is Turo’s Chief Legal Officer and she shared her “aha” moment when she noticed an image that illustrated who was being promoted as partners. The image included only white male lawyers. Michelle shared how Turo partnered with the Diversity Lab to focus on measurement and tracking, developing the pipeline, mentorship, and sponsorship.


Intuit’s Chief D&I Officer is Scott Beth. His session was called “What are you hiding?”. He mentions that belonging brings out the best in people. Intuit has 4 focus areas: Objectivity, Belonging, Voice and Growth. Objectivity is focused on consistent hiring criteria to prevent the “I don’t know I just don’t think they are a good fit” comment. Belonging focuses on building a diverse team and fostering 1:1 with managers and employees. Voice focused on interrupting bias and giving feedback when people are behaving exclusively. The Growth area discussed making feedback part of the norm and talking openly about mistakes and failures. I think this is so important because we still, in 2019, do not share full failures.


In Reuben Miller’s session he discussed two topics: how Intel created an Allyship program called Ally Nation and how they solved a retention problem through Warmline. Their ally program focused on specific behaviours such as: demonstrate empathy, build trust through active listening, point out bias, and advocate those who feel marginalized. I was extremely impressed with Intel’s Warmline program because a few years ago they realized they were losing employees, so they created an anonymous hotline for employees to reach out. A case manager (who was part of the D&I team) would be assigned and work with the employee through the issue. The results: 82% save rate. This meant 8 out of 10 employees were retained. This is fantastic considering there is a “war for talent” and the cost to replace talent is expensive.


Our day ended with a topic we don’t discuss typically in corporations: religion. Farah Siddiqui from Salesforce shared her journey on the creation of Faithforce, an employee resource group focused on all religions. Farah shared how, in the beginning, she would have to pretend she wasn’t hungry during Ramadan and pray quickly in stairwells. Her manager was very supportive, and she was able to create Faithforce to acknowledge, support, celebrate and foster understanding of global faith. Since 2017, it has grown to 13 chapters with 3000 members. It made me reflect on my session where I spoke about religious privilege and asked the question why is Christmas (Dec 25th) a statutory holiday? What about Hannukah or Diwali or...?


That’s it for Day 1. Stay tuned for my Day 2 recap.



@conferenceboard #tcbinclusion #inclusiveleadership #diversityandinclusion #conferenceboard


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