(left) The Creative Strategy Agency CEO Alfonso Santaniello and Griffin Staffing Network President Nicole Griffin.
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Diversity & Inclusion Conference: Afternoon Recap

The second round of breakout sessions at the Baystate Health Diversity & Inclusion Conference was just as powerful as the first.
Juli Thibault - Lioness Magazine
Juli Thibault of Baystate Health

The second round of breakout sessions at the Baystate Health Diversity & Inclusion Conference was just as powerful as the first.

Dr. Samuel Betances, of Souder, Betances & Associates in Chicago, brought Inclusion Insights to the lunch-hour with a moving talk about his childhood, opportunities for advancement and faulty assumptions.

Nuggets from Dr. Betances talk:

  • “When you reach a [certain] level of success economically … even if you don’t have children but are likely to adopt, the more successful we are the less children we are likely to have,” Betances explained.
  • Every organization has two faces – our public face and our private face. Diversity helps our private face match our public face.
  • Diversity is about demographic shifts.
  • Women are seen as inferior in popular culture. The perception is some of us are handkerchiefs and some of us are flags. If someone who is perceived as a handkerchief gets a flag position, others may have a problem with it.
  • Faulty Assumptions: Diversity initiatives must be led by women and/or minorities? False.
  • Faulty Assumptions: It’s better to know what type of disease a patient has than what type of patient has a disease. False.
  • Minorities are more likely to fail in technical areas because they are not as intelligent. False, but they are most likely to fail. Why? They don’t have the same support system.

Breakout Sessions

(left) The Creative Strategy Agency CEO Alfonso Santaniello and Griffin Staffing Network President Nicole Griffin.
(left) The Creative Strategy Agency CEO Alfonso Santaniello and Griffin Staffing Network President Nicole Griffin.

By 2:30 p.m., guests were leaving Dr. Betances talk inspired and were already filing into their next sessions. The four afternoon sessions:

  1. Creating a D&I Strategy
  2. Inclusive and Strategic Leadership
  3. Quibbling Over Q
  4. Tackling Barriers to Success

Myra Smith, of Springfield Technical Community College, moderated the Tackling Barriers panel. Panelists: Kirk R. Smith (YMCA Greater Springfield), Yami Madho (Big Y), Susan Fentin (Skoler, Abbott & Presser) and Cheeneah M. Armstrong (Northeast Utilities). The purpose of the panel discussion was to explore ways to maintain focus and passion and strategies for engaging middle managers.

Nuggets from the panel:

  • “When you’re tackling change there are things that come to place that make it difficult,” Smith said.
  • Things that are important to tackling barriers: Partnerships, communication, consistency, knowledge of your organization and sharing your information.
  • Me recalling Kirk Smith's fun declaration after his panel discussion. - photo courtesy of TCSA
    Me recalling YMCA of Greater Springfield CEO Kirk Smith’s fun declaration of his own sexiness. His underlying message: love who you are.
    – photo courtesy of TCSA

    “Continue to prove return on investment. You have to show the value. My folks that are here [from Big Y] – it’s not just a day off of work. There is an expectation when they get back to work,” Madho explained.

  • Kirk Smith of the YMCA said, “You have to learn how to be visible. Learn how to get some pride in who you are. You heard me say I was sexy,” he added with a laugh. “I didn’t say it because I thought that you thought that I was sexy. I said it because I think I am sexy.”
  • Armstrong described what it was like tackling tough issues with employees. “People sit in front of you and they cry and you know it’s wrong. And you know there is going to be a substantial uphill climb to make it right.”

About the author

Natasha Zena

Around age eight Natasha Zena was told it was a woman’s job to take care of the home and since then she has built a career out of telling women they can do whatever the hell they want to do. She is the co-founder of Lioness, the go-to news source for everything female entrepreneur. Natasha was recognized as an emerging leader in digital media by The Poynter Institute and the National Association of Black Journalists. She has mentored women entrepreneurs and moderated panels at a number of national accelerators, Startup Weekends and conferences such as The Lean Startup Conference, the Massachusetts Conference for Women, Women Empower Expo and Smart Cities Connect. Natasha is also the author of the popular whitepaper, "How To Close The Gender Gap In Startup Land By 2021." In her spare time, she writes short fiction and hangs out with her son, Shaun.

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