According to the Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s 2018 Member Pulse Report, half of those who responded to our annual member survey said they struggle to achieve a diverse workforce. We hope our upcoming Diversity & Inclusion Symposium, hosted with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, will help employers launch or advance diversity and inclusion initiatives.
We’re profiling the best practice experts who will share their experience and offer real-world advice at the Diversity & Inclusion Symposium, which is set for June 10 at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. Click here to get tickets for yourself or for a group. Hurry—the early bird ticket rate is good only through May 29.
Meet Mary-Frances Winters
Ms. Winters is founder and CEO of The Winters Group, Inc., a 35-year-old global organization development and diversity and inclusion consulting firm that has partnered with leading companies such as Pixar, LinkedIn, Twitter, Domino’s, SunTrust, KaiserPermanente, and Ingersoll Rand, among others.
Pointing to diversity and inclusion work as her passion and calling, Ms. Winters says companies with more diversity can reap many benefits, including greater engagement and innovation.
“Studies by Gallup show that engagement and inclusion are highly correlated, at the same time diversity and inclusion generate more ideas that lead to greater innovation,” she said. “In addition, diverse teams are more likely to understand the unique needs of different demographic groups among clients, customers, and other stakeholders.”
Ms. Winters brings her thought-provoking message to the Diversity & Inclusion Symposium, and will discuss her approach to diversity and inclusion that has impacted hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals. She is a master strategist with experience in strategic planning, change management, diversity, organization development, training and facilitation, systems thinking and qualitative and quantitative research methods. She has extensive experience in working with senior leadership teams to drive organizational change.
Among her many awards and distinctions, Ms. Winters was named a diversity pioneer by Profiles in Diversity Journal in August 2007 and most recently received the Winds of Change award from the Forum on Workplace Inclusion in 2016. She was also featured in an issue of Forbes which honored some of the DC Metro area’s most powerful women. She has served as a torch bearer for the Olympics and has previously been recognized as an ATHENA Leadership Award® winner from the Chamber of Commerce for her contributions to women and the community.
Ms. Winters is also the author of four books:
- We Can’t Talk about That at Work!: How to Talk about Race, Religion, Politics, and Other Polarizing Topics
- Only Wet Babies Like Change: Workplace Wisdom for Baby Boomers
- Inclusion Starts With “I”
- CEO’s Who Get It: Diversity Leadership from the Heart and Soul
Ms. Winters also authored a chapter in the book Diversity at Work: The Practice of Inclusion and has written numerous articles on diversity and inclusion.
Overcoming obstacles and making it happen
Asked about the biggest challenges to fostering diversity and inclusion in the workplace, Ms. Winters noted a few: “Often there is a lack of cross-cultural competence in the workplace and lack of exposure and experience across diverse groups. This leads to fear and polarization, and our unconscious biases.”
The Winters Group envisions a world that values, respects and leverages our similarities and differences. Thus, the organization’s mission is to make this vision a reality by creating transformative, sustainable solutions for organizations in support of their own efforts to create more equitable and inclusive environments.
Ms. Winters noted that there are several steps a company or organization should take in getting started with diversity and inclusion. The first is to assess the culture.
“Start by asking how inclusive the employees think the culture is currently,” she said. “Then assess the level of cultural competence in the organization – the capability to effectively bridge across differences.”
From there, the organization should put together a senior leadership group – including an executive diversity council – to spearhead diversity and inclusion and monitor progress.
“There has to be accountability for diversity and inclusion to be successful,” Ms. Winters said.
There is plenty more to learn from Ms. Winters in her keynote address at the Diversity & Inclusion Symposium on June 10. The Partnership is pleased to help bring her expertise to Buffalo Niagara as part of an ongoing effort that continues to strengthen throughout the business community.
“The Symposium is a very important event in the Western New York business community,” Ms. Winters said. “Business leaders who attend will enhance their knowledge, contribute their expertise to the conversation, and will be able to take key actions back to their organization for implementation.”
Attend the Diversity & Inclusion Symposium
The business case for diversity and inclusion is clear. What isn’t so clear is the roadmap for getting started. Learn how at the Diversity & Inclusion Symposium, Buffalo Niagara’s premier event on the topic. In addition to the keynote address by Ms. Winters, you’ll also hear from best practice experts and corporate leaders in diversity and inclusion. Individual and group tickets are available, along with the option to book a room at the nearby Hyatt Regency Buffalo.