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Diversity and inclusion symposium comes to the convention center

Thomas O'Neil-White

A day full of deep dives into workplace diversity and inclusion took place at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center Monday. The symposium was presented by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. National experts on the subject were on hand to lend their knowledge on subjects like implicit bias, building an inclusive culture, and the best practices for inclusion implementation.

“Diversity is just the mix that we have, inclusion is making that mix work,” said Mary-Frances Winters, one of the featured speakers. “How do you take all of those differences, different ways of thinking, different cultures, and how do you make it work. That’s how I distinguish diversity and inclusion.”

Winters is the Founder and CEO of The Winters Group, which works with business leaders on diversity and inclusion strategies for their companies. She said implementing inclusive measure in the work force needs to be seen through a social justice and business lens, and other cities can learn from what is happening in Western New York.

“What is going to make the difference is going to be communities recognizing they need to take a holistic approach and not be siloed,” she said. “The corporate community has had a way of talking about diversity and inclusion which is basically about the bottom line. The social justice community has had a way of talking about this work which is really about ‘this is the moral thing to do.’”

She said it is imperative to bring those two concepts together.

Credit Thomas O'Neil-White

As an employer, there is no better way to promote your business than with a representative work force.  Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo CEO Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker said.

“You want to drive your bottom line mission, however you define that,” she said. “Be it profit, be it change. However you define it.”

She said representatives from major employers, non-profits and government leaders across the city were taking part in the symposium.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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