Maria Campbell, director of diversity for SC Johnson
It is hardly a secret that demographics in the workplace in the United States are rapidly shifting. And Wisconsin is not immune to that shift. With that in mind, the deeper conversation on workforce diversity will be happening at the Urban League of Greater Madison's 2012 Workplace Diversity & Leadership Summit and Awards Luncheon May 16 at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center.
The event, now in its second year, will provide a valuable shared learning experience, networking opportunities, and ideas for employers and professionals who desire to advance workplace diversity, grow their businesses, and have a positive impact on the community at the same time.
“We knew that we were going to do one this year after last year's event because of all the great feedback we received. We've been in the planning stages for this event since late November.” says Mark Richardson, vice president of economic & workforce development for the Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM).
“Some of that feedback from last year's event helped us develop this year's summit,” Richardson adds. “Last year, it was more about creating awareness. This year, because of the feedback... [the summit] is more instructional. It's more 'how-to.' Last year, we heard from a lot of HR [Human Resources] directors that said, 'We didn't even know that there were these [African American and Latino] people around.' When they go to hire people they didn't see these people's names or their faces coming through the door. What they didn't know, and what they asked us to help them with this year, is to introduce them to the networks that can get them connected with these individuals — the Madison Network of Black Professionals, Centro Hispano of Dane County, the Latino Chamber of Commerce, the 100 Black Men of Madison, The Madison Times, etc.”
Last year's Workplace Diversity & Leadership Summit and Awards Luncheon
The Workplace Diversity & Leadership Summit will be a showcase of the what’s, why’s, and how’s of building, retaining, and growing a diversified workforce.
“We have professionals who are doing great work in the city but they may not be on the radars of HR professionals and hiring managers because their networks never intersect,” Richardson says. “This year, we are stepping it up beyond just 'awareness' and we are all about the how-to's.”
Networking is always a key to success in the workplace. “This particular type of networking is crucial to what this marketplace looks like going forward and what kind of opportunities are available for professionals of color and young professionals,” Richardson says. “Because we are, in effect, throwing together markets that don't generally intersect.”
People find out about jobs through their networks and if you don't network with people who don't look like you, Richardson says, then you're never going to start to build relationships with professionals of color. “We're essentially taking the Dane Dances philosophy of bringing people together,” Richardson says of the very popular multicultural event on the Monona Terrace Rooftop on Fridays during the month of August. “This is the Dane Dances for professionals.”
But why is workforce diversity so important?
“You walk into big companies and generally you don't see a lot of faces of color with a lot of the big employers,” Richardson says. “Diversity is important for the well-being and the quality of life in this city to make sure that all parties and all parts of the city get opportunities and [are] involved with what it means to make a living here — to have a job with advancement opportunities, to get involved with volunteering, etc.. There are a lot of things that make Madison great, but everybody needs to be able to participate in that.”
And from an economic stability and growth standpoint, diversity is one of the major things that young professionals look for when they look for a job. “They don't necessarily want to jump into a workplace where everybody looks like them,” Richardson says. “They want to see diversity. And if we're going to attract talent to this market and retain talent in this market then we're going to have to get serious about making sure this is a place that young professionals will want to come to.”
The face of the world is changing and advancing Madison’s cultural competency is vital to its growth as an economic market, both in providing opportunities for the emerging workforce and in retaining world-class talent. More often than not, successful organizations and their managers are watching, learning, adapting, and making plans with that in mind.
“A lot of horsepower, a lot of great minds, a lot of talent, and a lot of great energy leaves this region because once they leave the campus, they don't have the same feeling of being welcomed, the same feeling as far as having opportunity, and they don't see the same quality of life that they would like to. So they go to Austin or they go to Atlanta or they go to Chicago ... or even the Twin Cities,” Richardson says. “They look for a place that values diversity. This Summit one of the ways that we can attack the brain drain.”
Expanded from a half-day event in its inaugural year, the full-day summit will offer workshops, presentations, and networking opportunities for everyone from young professionals to CEO’s. Topics will range from diversity planning and best practices, to understanding the next generation of employees and finding, developing, and retaining diverse talent.
“We will be seeing more breakout sessions this year because it's a full day,” says Janet DesChenes, marketing consultant for ULGM. “We're looking at pushing up to 400 people. Last year, we had just under 300 people. People can register online right up to that weekend and they can also register on site.”
There will be panel sessions on “The 2010 Census — A Madison Area View,” “Hot Topics in Human Resources,” “Cultural Competence vs. Compliance,” “A Real-Life Treasure Hunt: Finding and Keeping Diverse Talent,” “Breaking Through Bias,” “The Business Case for Mentoring and Retention,” and more. In addition to the educational and networking sessions, the Summit will include the presentation of the 2012 Workplace Diversity Awards and the Urban League Whitney Young Jr. Award for Public Service.
“This year, we're finding that there are a lot more registrants coming from other than sponsored companies,” Richardson says. “In other words, folks that will be there because their company sponsored it is one thing — and we love to have those folks — but we're seeing a big push of people whose companies aren't sponsoring it but they want to be there for the format and the content.”
Interest in the event is already higher than it was last year.
“That tells us that the subject matter is getting traction in the market ... that there is value in what we're doing and that people enjoyed the last one,” Richardson says. “The word traveled and connections were made. That's what this is all about.”
ULGM has gathered some of the most notable leaders and innovators in the Madison area as presenters, as well as nationally recognized experts. There will be four general session speakers including Kwame Salter, a retired senior vice president of human resources at Kraft Global Supply Chain and author of “Striving While Black… In Corporate America.”
“We're happy to have Kwame back. A lot of people here know Kwame,” Richardson says. “He's living proof of what can be obtained if given an opportunity. Just an incredible man. The work that Oscar Meyer does now on the diversity side they do in large part because of Kwame.”
Oscar Mayer was the winner of last year's summit's large business diversity award.
Once again, one of the distinguished speakers will be Madison native Maria Campbell who serves as director of diversity for SC Johnson, a family-owned and managed business dedicated to innovative, high-quality products, excellence in the workplace and a long-term commitment to the environment and the communities in which it operates. The event will also feature Rebecca Ryan, founder of Next Generation Consulting and author of “ReGENERATION — A Manifesto for America’s Next Leaders” and Terry Ludeman, who was the chief economist of the Governor’s Office of Economic Advisors.
Mark Richardson, vice president of economic & workforce
development for the Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM)
“All of these folks will paint us a picture on why diversity matters,” Richardson says. “We're coming at it from an economic standpoint, a generational standpoint, [and] a communities of color standpoint. We have sessions dedicated to people with disabilities and also the LGBT community.”
Diversity is not just about African Americans and Latinos. “It's all the communities that would be considered to be small or inconsequential added together,” Richardson says. “They are very significant when you are looking at attracting young talent to a market. The 55-and-older workforce couldn't look any different than it does from the 25-and-under workforce. The question is: Is this market — and the individual companies — prepared for what is coming? The answer, in some cases, would be 'we're getting there.’ In other cases, the answer would be, 'not even close.'”
The 2012 Workplace Diversity & Leadership Summit and Awards Luncheon is a keystone event to support ULGM’s Workforce Development programs and is a major fundraisier for the Urban League helping to provide the revenue to fund many of its programs.
“We will continue to broaden the conversation,” Richardson says. “Success for us is more people talking about this and creating more opportunities for diverse professionals and for a diverse workforce in general. The elevation of conversation is great for the community and the region itself. It will get us in the position that we need to be in which is starting to attract talent here.”
The Urban League of Greater Madison will host the 2012 Workplace Diversity & Leadership Summit and Awards Luncheon Wednesday, May 16, 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center.
To sign up or to find out more information, contact Janet DesChenes at firstname.lastname@example.org or (608) 729-1208 or visit www.ulgm.org/summit.