I was invited to attend Bloom Innovative Solutions for Inclusion by the Wake Forest’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.  It was a one-day seminar held in Greensboro on Thursday, October 3 and hosted by Social Designs Consulting.

The seminar took a broad-based approach to issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion in a variety of industries.  Attendees represented a variety of fields that included government, law enforcement, for-profit companies, K-12 education, and higher education.  Groups were mixed and matched several times during the day, allowing for networking opportunities at their respective tables.  These conversations often led to a series of common threads and information sharing that served to reinforce the meaning of the larger discussion.

The speakers were just as varied and dynamic in their presentations, with local and national names featured.

  • Dave McIntosh, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for Wake Forest Baptist Hospital, gave a keynote address about building inclusion through authenticity and trust. Dr. McIntosh used several examples of statistics regarding diversity and inclusion issues during his talk which touched on matters such as housing, criminal justice, education, and public health.
  • Zitty Nxumalo, CEO of Deftable LLC and Natalie Sanders, CEO of Professional Business Cultures, led an exercise about respectful communication and compliance to create positive working environments.
  • A lunchtime panel that included Chief Catrina Thompson of the Winston-Salem Police Department discussed efforts to introduce equity, diversity and inclusion issues within their respective places of business.
  • Host Jada Monica Drew of Social Design Consulting presented on how “Sharpen the Inclusion Edge” with strategies regarding the return on investing in inclusion by advancing it in hiring, on-boarding, branding, and public relations.
  • Finally, Eric Polite, CEO of Eric Polite & Associates. and Jorge Zeballos, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Michigan, spoke about inclusive leadership and its value in high-performing organizations by using data to develop qualifying tools for commitment and education along with quantifying data to measure those results.

In all, this was a seminar that was informative to me to see how the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion has progressed through many industries outside of higher education.  It was also valuable to meet more people who want to see it grow within their workplaces and how it can apply to create an atmosphere where these concepts are not just celebrated but championed as well.

As a bonus, I learned that Ms. Drew is a very good friend of our own Monesha Staton-Fluker!  Since she’s local, she would be an excellent speaker for a future event here at ZSR!