The Conference Board uses cookies to improve our website, enhance your experience, and deliver relevant messages and offers about our products. Detailed information on the use of cookies on this site is provided in our cookie policy. For more information on how The Conference Board collects and uses personal data, please visit our privacy policy. By continuing to use this Site or by clicking "OK", you consent to the use of cookies. 

14 Dec. 2016 | Comments (0)

Join us for our 21st Annual Diversity and Inclusion Conference, from June 6-7, 2017, and learn more about the knowledge D&I practitioners need to make a difference in their organizations while exploring effective D&I practices that link to the needs and results of the business..


Contemporary Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) leaders are challenged to be innovators. Although we have achieved important successes, current practices are insufficient. Progressive leaders know we need new ways of thinking and working to deliver on D&I’s full potential. To fulfill the D&I business case, we must design transformative strategies to elevate meaningful results.

Taking on this innovation challenge, 120 forward-thinking leaders representing a mix of industries, nationalities, functions, and identities gathered in San Francisco for Diversity and Inclusion: Design the Future of Your Practice. Focusing on connections among diversity, inclusion, and innovation, these leaders became collaborative catalysts for breakthroughs. Unleashing their collective genius, they explored advanced insights and co-designed prototypes of new D&I practices.

A Path to the Future

In contrast to conventional conferences, participants were welcomed into a guided interactive process, an incubator specifically designed to help them shed familiar constraints and work together to co-create their own innovations for D&I transformation. Building on insights and empathy-building perspectives from progressive leaders in both D&I and Innovation, participants inspired each other with their boldest aspirations for D&I. Learning the processes and tools of human-centred design, small groups responded to one of ten vital D&I challenges, including:

  • How can we help people connect in healthy ways across diversities?
  • How can we expand access to products and services to a diverse mix of customers?
  • How can D&I leaders influence public policy to support D&I’s mission?

Other challenges included letting go of old paradigms to make room for D&I innovations, expanding D&I-driven cultural transformation, advancing recruitment and retention, designing meaningful metrics, gaining leader and middle manager commitment, expanding business value, and designing fully inclusive workplaces.

As they worked to design game-changing practices for the future of D&I, participants were presented with wild ideas that have worked in adjacent fields and asked to follow liberating structures and provocative guidelines, including assuming that all current D&I practices are banned. This process was also supported by:

  • Inclusive Participation: Covision thought partnership and technology enabled participants to engage deeply with emerging insights and easily share diverse perspectives with the broader group in real time. This helped create an inclusive, interactive dynamic where all voices, even quiet and dissenting ones, could be incorporated.
  • Positive Disruption: Each small group partnered with a member of our Human Library, a set of progressive leaders (in design and user experience, innovation, diversity and inclusion) who encouraged empathy with stakeholders and provoked bolder creativity.
  • Courageous Resilience: Focused on unleashing potential through transformative experiences, the organization, No Barriers boosted confidence to overcome obstacles with a pledge: “What’s within me is stronger than what’s in my way.”

Later, each group pitched first iteration prototypes of new D&I strategies to gain feedback. Although the main objective of this event was to give participants hands-on experience in design thinking for D&I, the groups also generated models of fresh, compelling D&I practices.

Forward Momentum

Through designing and leading D&I Innovation Labs, I have witnessed how we can achieve powerful advances in our frameworks and strategies when we commit to thinking and working differently. With this understanding, my aspiration for this event was to create an inspiring space where participants could prepare to be D&I innovators with the courage, competence, and connections to create sustained transformation within their organizations and the broader D&I field. The diverse mix of participants gamely took on that challenge, courageously letting go of ideas that do not work, actively considering fundamental paradigm shifts, and collaboratively engaging with design-thinking processes. In committing to this blend of learning and working together, participants were able to tap into their collective diversities and generate innovative models for the future. Even more than the specific prototypes developed, these mind shifts and capabilities hold potential for the exponential transformation we need in this field.

In our ever-changing social and business context, D&I leaders are challenged to continually explore new terrain. Our ambitious and vitally important goals demand that we sustain what works while also moving toward ever more effective and promising strategies and practices. Our employees, companies, and societies deserve nothing less. 


View our complete listing of Diversity & Inclusion blogs.

  • About the Author: Rebekah Steele

    Rebekah Steele

    Rebekah Steele is a Senior Fellow in Human Capital and Program Director, providing diversity & inclusion (D&I) expertise for The Conference Board. Rebekah supports a broad spectrum of D&I …

    Full Bio | More from Rebekah Steele


0 Comment Comment Policy

Please Sign In to post a comment.