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 Maura Belliveau, Ph.D.
Maura Belliveau, Ph.D., is the inaugural director of the Center for Diversity Innovation at University at Buffalo. The Center generates, translates, and diffuses empirical research on diversity, inclusion, and inequality and utilizes that research to design and communicate best practices through educational materials, trainings, and consultations throughout the Buffalo community and region.
Dr. Belliveau has been a business school faculty member at leading universities including Emory University, Texas A&M University, and Duke University, where she was named one of the outstanding business school faculty members in the U.S. by Business Week. Her research, teaching, and public speaking focus on structures and processes that promote diversity and inclusion in organizations and reduce bias. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Business Week, Fortune, The Economist, Boston Globe, Washington Post, and on NPR.
Prior to earning her doctorate, Dr. Belliveau was a strategy consultant and senior manager for Cambridge Technology Group, a successful start-up that went public in 1993 and continues to spawn many other entrepreneurial ventures in technology and consulting.
The biggest challenges to fostering diversity and inclusion
According to Dr. Belliveau, one of the biggest challenges to fostering diversity and inclusion is misinformation – that somehow diversity and inclusion efforts undermine, rather than promote, excellence. Another is a lack of access to the social science of diversity and inclusion which leads to investment in flawed diversity practices and misunderstanding key facts related to attitudes towards diversity, etc.
“The big innovation in D&I work is for leaders to actually do what we, as social scientists, already know works,” explains Dr. Belliveau. “I’m committed to remedying the ‘knowing-doing’ gap and working with great partners like the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.”
Dr. Belliveau also points out that business leaders often do not recognize diversity and inclusion as a major organizational change effort which requires sustained, deep commitment—a view that often leads them to underestimate the importance of their role in continuously emphasizing the diversity and inclusion mission and goals as integral to business success. She notes there is no “one-and-done” training or program that will achieve the depth of change that is typically required.
Taking a systemic view
Some organizations focus on recruiting numbers but fail to think beyond initial staffing, Dr. Belliveau says. In that scenario – which is remarkably common – a “revolving door” phenomenon results where the organization is hiring well, but the climate leads those new employees to exit after a short tenure.
Dr. Belliveau said that diversity, equity, and inclusion require a comprehensive examination of an organization’s practices and climate. Even if a company is separately doing many things—such as recruitment, selection, and onboarding—well from a diversity and inclusion standpoint, they can and will lose talent if their competition is doing better systemically. Dr. Belliveau said that companies need to evaluate the organization’s entire system—and consider the competitive context of their actions.
The importance of the Diversity & Inclusion Symposium
Recent research has shown that implicit, or unconscious, bias continues to contribute to behaviors and decisions in the workplace. At the Diversity & Inclusion Symposium, Dr. Belliveau will present on disrupting implicit bias as a key step in advancing an inclusive workplace culture.
“The Symposium will foster a high level of knowledge exchange and support for leaders engaged in organizational change around diversity—both of which are critical,” Dr. Belliveau said. “Our city and region are an ecosystem that can be – and are being – cultivated to facilitate the success of individual firms in promoting their diversity and inclusion strategies. I see the Symposium as an important part of that ongoing effort and I’m very pleased to be a part of it.”
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. Delivering the keynote address is Mary-Frances Winters, a renowned expert in the field who has worked with organizations like Disney, Pixar, LinkedIn, Twitter, Domino’s, SunTrust, Kaiser Permanente, and Ingersoll Rand. 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.