63.8 F
Los Angeles
Wednesday, Jun 19, 2024

Diversity & Inclusion Summit: A Closer Look at the Discussions

Here’s a closer look at some of what was covered during the panels and discussions.


Sahar Andrade from Sahar Consulting captivated the audience with an interactive and informative presentation focusing specifically on human capital and how important the Millennial population of “Generation Y” are to future business developments. As Andrade pointed out in her presentation, Millennials are continuingly marking their presence in the work force and can no longer be marginalized or ignored as they are debunking negative myths about their work behavior and commitment. Despite this, Andrade explained that a negative connotation is still prevalent when it comes to Millennials and it’s not until we overcome the myths surrounding them and understand why they do what they do that business and industry will fully benefit from their potential talent.

It is projected that by 2030, 75% of employees will be Millennials (according to Soo Key group) and that the 80-million-strong baby boomer generation will exit the work force within the next 10 years. The beauty of the diversity of the Millennials is that they come with a whole new toolbox of skills, talents and strengths. In order to lead Generation Y, businesses must start showing them accountability, give exposure to senior leaders, and utilize feedback and assessments. Andrade drove home that giving Millennials the accountability they deserve will progress into creating a more diverse and inclusive culture.


The event’s supplier diversity panel kicked off the Diversity and Inclusion Summit by helping define supplier diversity and the strategies used by successful businesses to procure minority contracts and secure access to capital. Representatives of Skanska (Mel Jones), PCL Construction Services (Priscilla Chavez), and California State University, Northridge’s David Nazarian College of Business and Economics (Lois Shelton) each shared their thoughts on the matter and how their specific organizations use supplier diverse organizations to enhance their businesses. The conversation was moderated by Kymberly Garrett, President and Principal Consultant of GarrettSpioni Group, who encouraged the panelists to talk about ways in which their business’s revenue and supply chain have shifted by using minority owned businesses, and also what resources are offered to small business owners.

Highlights of the discussion included Lois Shelton’s description of the positive aspects of supplier diversity aside from job creation. She outlined that supplier diversity is a strategic choice that provides both business and social benefits in that it builds a base of current and future customers and increases the flexibility of a supply chain; and that it is also promotes stable, safe, and thriving local communities and engages some of our fastest growing population groups.


Executives and CEOs shared what issues need to be considered when building a diversified team and how that correlates to productivity, profitability, business growth and morale. Moderated by Kimberly D. Jones of Kelton Legend, and featuring panelists Stacey Gordon (Rework Work), Tony Lee (Dickerson Insurance Services), Joe Keenan (New Avenue Marketing) and Lisa Bennet Wrench (Language People), the group touched on topics that involved how the different backgrounds and experiences from diverse employees ultimately have an impact on their overall career and performance.

It was discussed how with diverse upbringings, employees can bring different ideas and solutions into the work force and create a collaborative environment within themselves. Also explained was how diverse employee bases can use problem-solving tactics that include advocates and resources, along with tools that support them. Stacey Gordon spoke about how inherently biased the hiring process is, which causes a huge impediment on diversity. This issues inspired Rework Work to configure a platform to highlight skill over and above degrees, which focuses on what a candidate can do in reality, rather than in theory.

Joe Keenan added important insights about the LGBTQ community. For example, he shared that “…In most cases, it is tough to walk into a company and know how welcoming they are to LGBTQ employees. Open and out professionals want to be able to bring their full and authentic selves to work each day and studies have shown that this boosts productivity and retention. Knowing what organizations a company supports, if they have an LGBT ERG, what events they participate in, if they have a ranking on the HRC Corporate Equality Index, etc, all add to how inclusive a company is and how welcoming to top talent. Remember, current and future employees are also consumers. The LGBTQ segment pays attention to who supports the community.”


With a dynamic panel represented by Jessica Kimball (Mattel), John Iino (Reed Smith), Danone Simpson (Montage) and moderated by the Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion of USC Marshall School of Business, Debra Langford, these different organizations shared their views on challenges and opportunities that arise when building and measuring a culture of diversity and inclusion within their organizations; and the effects it has on productivity.

Jessica Kimball specifically explained how it is important to define Diversity and Inclusion in a way that is authentic to company culture and true to its DNA.


Featured Articles

Related Articles