On March 28-30, 2017, over 1,300 people from all over the world gathered in Minneapolis to engage in global conversations about building more diverse and inclusive workplaces. At its 30th annual conference, The Forum on Workplace Inclusion brought together cross-sector leaders to connect, share best practices and discover big ideas.

At a time when our communities are experiencing charged dynamics around societal events, political shifts, and racial and religious polarization, it is more important than ever that leaders have the mindsets, skillsets and tool sets necessary for responsive leadership that drives strategies for advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Throughout the conference, Make It. MSP. partners hosted sessions and advanced the key issues and ideas coming out of the Make It. MSP. Professionals of Color Retention work.

Local leaders from The Forum on Workplace Inclusion have been key partners in the Make It. MSP. Professionals of Color Retention work. In 2017, The Forum is deepening its partnership with the Make It. MSP. initiative to align strategic priorities and work towards the shared vision of creating a more diverse and inclusive environment for professionals of color in Minneapolis-Saint Paul.

Steve Humerickhouse, Executive Director of The Forum on Workplace Inclusion, reflected on this year’s conference and shared some learnings that can be applied to the work of the Make It. MSP. Professionals of Color Retention Team.

What is the vision of The Forum on Workplace Inclusion?

Engage people. Advance ideas. Ignite change.

How has The Forum on Workplace Inclusion evolved since its inception?

The Forum started as a two hour telecast with 75 local people in attendance and no staff in 1988. Today, it is three full days of diversity and inclusion in the workplace content – with 81 sessions, five keynotes, exhibitor booths, numerous receptions and breakfast meetings, and ten monthly webinars. In 2017 we welcomed 1300+ people from 40 states and 13 countries.

What are key takeaways from The Forum on Workplace Inclusion 2017 conference?

We are all in this together. Everyone has a relevant voice and a point of view. Everyone should be able to bring their whole self to work. Diversity and inclusion work has never been more important or more difficult. It is up to all of us to reach across to those who are different from us to make connections and to understand a different point of view. To paraphrase Van Jones…a bird needs both its right and left wings to fly.

I have come to realize that participants attend for two reasons: learning and community. By working together and getting to know each other, we create a unity of purpose and a community of action.

Are there global themes or ideas emerging that indicate pathways towards collective regional action in MSP? How can they apply to the Make It. MSP. Professionals of Color Retention Team?

The MSP region is a microcosm of what is happening in the country and around the world. It takes all of our citizens being included in the growth of the region for the region to be successful. The economic impact is only greater (the pie is bigger) when everyone can participate to their fullest.

Continue the Conversation

Each month, The Forum on Workplace Inclusion hosts webinars featuring significant diversity and inclusion topics. Learn more.

Main photo, left to right: Miles Davis – Shenandoah University, Howard Ross – Cook Ross Inc., Van Jones – CNN, Caroline Wanga – Target, Tinna Neilsen – World Economic Forum, and Jacob Rascon – NBC News.

Steve Humerickhouse
 is the Executive Director of The Forum on Workplace Inclusion. Humerickhouse has been with The Forum for more than fourteen years. During that time he has expanded The Forum from a one-day event into the leading international global conference for Diversity, Inclusion and Equity. Steve is also an active freelance instrumentalist in the Twin Cities.

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