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 Being a Champion for Inclusion 1:15 pm - 2:00 pm

While diversity is a worthy goal in the workplace, it is only the starting point for inclusion. We must embrace varying viewpoints and perspectives and cultivate a variety of voices. But are we going beyond simply representation to building relationships between groups, creating excitement rather than obligation? If we find ourselves in the majority, we should take a moment to ask ourselves, are we part of the problem?

What can the majority do in the workplace to include the minority? Often non-minorities feel like diversity discussions are not for them. It is only with the cooperation of everyone that true inclusion is possible. What can you do to make a person feel more included? Is my behavior making a team member feel excluded? Building a strong, collaborative team means creating an environment in which people can build upon each other’s strengths.

Being a champion of inclusion requires a significant amount of creative thought, deliberative effort, and execution on behalf of leadership. You must be willing to admit that conscious and unconscious biases currently exist. And unless all members are full participants instead of minority representatives, an inclusive work environment is not possible. If we find ourselves in the majority, it is our responsibility to include the minority for the betterment of everyone. Anything less than active participation toward inclusion is a distraction from progress.

"I believe in a passion for inclusion." - Lady GaGa, singer, songwriter and actress

"Our diversity of faiths, and colors and creeds - that is not a threat to who we are, it makes us who we are." - Michelle Obama, American writer, lawyer, and university administrator who served as the First Lady of the United States

 Deborah Chandler  Holli Conway  Anita Sharma

Dr. Deborah Chandler
Director of Choral Activities, Associate Professor of Conducting, ULM

Holli Conway
Miss Louisiana 2018

Dr. Anita Sharma
Associate Professor, Program Coordinator Gerontology, ULM


 Pillars of Professionalism 2:15 pm - 3:00 pm

Being professional extends beyond the workplace. How we present ourselves on social media, in verbal exchanges, and even how we spend our free time, reflects our reputation. In a business/workplace culture, appearance is the first impression, followed by one’s interaction with colleagues. While wardrobe choices are personal and vary by profession, we can all agree that looking put-together, clean, and neat is essential. Carrying oneself with honesty and integrity and adhering to a personal code of ethics is expected. How important is one’s demeanor, competence, reliability, and how can one improve in those areas? How can we self-analyze our verbal communication and the impressions we leave with others?

Written correspondence within the workplace can quickly identify an employee as a valued company asset or a distraction. Thoughtful articulation of ideas and overall clarity in email exchanges, memos, etc. illustrates one’s level of communication. Avoiding inappropriate language and dialogue is key to maintaining collegiality with coworkers and is conducive to a drama-free environment. We know we should be direct when speaking, but what if others perceive that directness as rudeness? Should we be concerned with how we are socially received, or is it the recipient’s problem?

Our online footprint is permanent, and while social media promises freedom of expression, it comes with repercussions—both personal and professional. How can we remain authentic online without it coming back to haunt us? Is a private social media account always private? Some professionals avoid posting altogether for fear of miscommunication or persecution. Is this a good example to follow or should we be ourselves, no matter how radical our opinions and posts may be? Where is the line, and should we be trying to move it?

"Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." — Helen Keller, American author and political activist

"Most professional women I know - myself included - long since gave up looking for a rulebook or roadmap; we make it up as we go along. Every day presents a new choice, a new challenge, which makes long-term career planning seem like an especially abstract exercise." - Nancy Gibbs, former editor of TIME Magazine

 Robinan Gentry  Alberta Green  Julia Letlow

Dr. Robinan Gentry
Toxicologist, Ramboll


Alberta Green
CEO, ABG Professional Development Solutions

Dr. Julia Letlow
Executive Director of External Affairs and Strategic Communications, ULM


 Fostering a safe work environment 3:15 pm - 4:00 pm

In the era of the #metoo movement, some of us are more aware of sexual harassment, on guard for unwanted advances, more likely to report incidences of misconduct, and rebuke crude jokes. We all know it happens. Most of us have a story. As accusations and reports become more commonplace, the knowledge of what constitutes misconduct and how to handle it can become gray. How do we know if we’re being verbally harassed? And how do we know our job will support us if we come forward? Do all companies have a policy in place? What does the law say? We should inform ourselves about these issues and improve our understanding of how to proceed after an incident occurs.

Power dynamics can be used to build productive relationships, but they can also result in limited thinking, bullying, and ultimatums in the workplace. How do we recognize our role in positive and negative power dynamics, and how do we shift that role if needed? We understand the law, but when it comes to harassment, knowing our rights is only one component. The law matters, but so does power. How do we handle power distribution within an organization? What if the perpetrator is a CEO, for example?

What is our role as bystanders? We are sometimes aware of misconduct in the workplace. Is this a time to mind our own business or speak up on behalf of someone who is being victimized? What does the law say? Knowing what to do with information is paramount for a safe, productive work environment.

"We must have zero tolerance for sexual harassment, even if the perpetrator is somebody we like and admire." - Ana Navarro, political strategist and commentator

"It’s so unbelievable that almost every single woman has a story about sexual harassment." - Gretchen Carlson, author

 picture of Jane Brandon  picture of Meredith Hayes  picture of Debbie Horstmann
Jane Brandon
Chief Operating Officer

The Wellspring
Meredith Hayes
Senior Counsel of Ethics and Compliance

Debbie Horstmann
Human Resources Director

St. Francis Hospital