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Non-Profit

The Forum on Workplace Inclusion Celebrates Magical 30th Anniversary

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By Melissa Lowery

Over three days in April, the Minneapolis Convention Center will host the 30th annual Forum on Workplace Inclusion, the legendary conference focused on diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. To celebrate this milestone, this year’s opening keynote speaker is a “magical” guest.

“We are so excited to have Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson as our opening keynote speaker,” said Steve Humerickhouse, Executive Director. “He, along with our other keynote speakers—Michelle Norris and Shiza Shahid—bring such incredible depth to our main stage.”

As Chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises (MJE), Johnson is utilizing the skills that brought him success on the basketball court in a variety of arenas, including his recent role as President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. Johnson made history in 2012 when he became co-owner of MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers. He also co-owns WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks and MLS’s Los Angeles Football Club. Johnson continues to expand his influence through businesses including EquiTrust Life Insurance Company, ASPiRE television network and SodexoMAGIC. He is also one of the leading investors in a number of minority-owned tech companies that include Unchartered Play, ShotTracker, Jopwell, Walker & Co. Brands, and MiTú. His keynote is sponsored by two-time recipient of the BEQ Business Equality Excellence Award, Target.

Global Perspective

In addition to the keynote speakers, the three-day conference will feature 96 different presentations by more than 185 presenters from as far away as Australia and South Africa. New this year is the Global Inclusion Forum—for people working and living outside the U.S.

The Marketplace of Ideas continues its transformation with one-on-one learning labs, wellness spaces, art installations and documentary presentations, all embedded around a great collection of exhibitors.

Unique to the Forum is the Diversity & Inclusion Coaching Center. This resource is free to all conference attendees and offers opportunities to engage with expert coaches on site.

The Forum has grown and evolved over three decades, thanks to the people involved, Humerickhouse said.

“In the world of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), sustainability is a watchword—how do we maintain good things and continue to progress?” he asked. “Sustainability has come about because we have been able to—with some skill and much luck—bring together people from all over the world to find community and a space to learn from incredible presenters and, importantly, from each other. Every added voice changes the outcome for the better.”

Just as relevant after 30 years

At 30, the Forum is as relevant as ever. Perhaps even more so as a new generation matures and technology transforms our work, home and personal spaces. Humerickhouse foresees challenges as the global community becomes even more connected—even as some groups try to push us apart.

Rather than be reactive, it is the job of DEI to get ahead of potential divisiveness and conflict, Humerickhouse said.

“Recently on my Facebook page I shared a post about our conference and received a comment back from someone I do not know: ‘diversity equals white exclusion’,” he related. “Our challenge: how do we bring in the disaffected white person for whom this is a zero-sum game, who believe if some win, others must lose? These are real people who are also part of the DEI equation, deserving of our attention and concern. They cannot be seen as the enemy. This is the conundrum presented by the political/ideological divide in our country and so many others around the world. We must solve this.”

The Forum on Workplace Inclusion takes place April 10-12 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The Forum is part of the Office of Diversity & Inclusion at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

For more information or to register for The Forum on Workplace Inclusion, visit www.stthomas.edu/workplaceforum.

Business Equality Pride (BEQPride) is the first publication from the BEQ family of national print and digital magazines exclusively addressing the needs of LGBTQ small-to-medium sized businesses, entrepreneurs and professionals.