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Diversity Conference Will Help Leaders Prepare for 21st Century

By Rebecca R. Hastings, SPHR  6/25/2010

Leaders grappling with the changing dynamics of the global workplace will have the opportunity to learn from noted thought leaders from business, consulting, academia and the nonprofit sector during the 2010 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Diversity Conference & Exposition, to be held Oct. 11-13 in New Orleans.

The lineup includes Ted Childs, who retired from IBM in 2006 after 39 years with the corporate human resources team, including 15 years of executive responsibility for global workforce diversity programs and policies. Childs believes that organizations must pay close attention to changing global demographics and emerging issues, and must embrace them as opportunities for growth in order to succeed. Captivating and eloquent—and passionate about workplace equality for all—Childs gets straight to the bottom line and proves that a healthy diversity policy is essential to achieving the ultimate competitive advantage.

Cross-cultural intelligence will be an essential competency for HR professionals working in global organizations in the coming years, according to more than 2,000 SHRM members and other HR professionals from around the world who responded to SHRM’s Senior HR Leadership Competencies Poll in 2009. Howard J. Ross’ consulting and training firm, Cook Ross Inc., is well-known for its expertise and cutting-edge research in this area. As an advisor to major global educational, corporate, philanthropic and governmental organizations, Ross’ lively and interactive approach has helped foster breakthroughs in mutual understanding between people of different races, religions and lifestyles. He has emerged as one of the most influential voices on diversity issues such as the impacts of structures and systems and unconscious bias.

As a professor of management in the Villanova School of Business at Villanova University, Quinetta M. Roberson, Ph.D., helps prepare the next generation of business leaders for the challenges of the 21st century workplace. Her research focuses on fairness in work teams, building climates for diversity and inclusion, and linking diversity management initiatives to bottom-line outcomes. She worked with SHRM’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion to design, launch and facilitate SHRM’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Leadership Program, which debuted at last year’s Diversity Conference with sold out registrations. She approaches the subjects of diversity and inclusion in a warm, funny, no-nonsense way and receives high marks from participants.

Leadership development is a key priority for the fourth keynoter, Alma Morales Riojas, president and CEO of the oldest national pan-Latina membership organization in the United States—MANA, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. Its mission is to empower Latinas through leadership development, community service and advocacy. Riojas served on former President Ronald Reagan’s transition team and in the White House Personnel Office specializing in recruitment and placement of Hispanics and women.

Those with less than three years of experience in the diversity & inclusion field should make plans to attend a one-day preconference workshop called “The Diversity Practitioner of the 21st Century,” to learn what kinds of knowledge, skills and competencies they will need to be successful in the field. This course will be taught by SHRM’s own Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. Shirley Davis. There is additional fee for this program.

During the conference, each attendee will customize his or her learning experience by selecting from a wide range of concurrent sessions dealing with the most pressing diversity and inclusion topics of the day.

But the learning continues before and after sessions, in the corridors, and over meals as participants take advantage of numerous opportunities to network, including the popular Meet to Eat dinner option. And what better place for that kind of learning than New Orleans—a city known for its cuisine, music, architecture, and multicultural and multilingual heritage?

The conference will be held at the Sheraton New Orleans, conveniently located on historic Canal Street, just a few steps from the French Quarter and plenty of shopping venues, restaurants and live music clubs.

Learn more about this conference at

Rebecca R. Hastings, SPHR, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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