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  • Viva Variety - 2018 Chamber Diversity Summit

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    Inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87 percent of the time. That’s just one of the impressive findings from a 2017 study conducted by Forbes focused on quantifying the benefits of diversity and inclusion in business settings. Here are a few more eye-opening results from the research:
    • Teams that follow an inclusive process make decisions two times faster with half the meetings.
    • Decisions made and executed by diverse teams delivered 60 percent better results.

    These are numbers businesses can’t afford to ignore, one of the many reasons the Chamber is again hosting its 2018 Diversity Summit on October 2 and 3. The event is designed to enlighten, inform and encourage our area’s business community on multiple topics that the umbrella of diversity and inclusion covers.

    Through a variety of speaker sessions, the event aims to help member businesses better understand what diversity and inclusion truly means and why not just embracing these concepts but fostering them in their day-to-day operations and decisions is key to success in recruitment, retention and to having a healthier bottom line. “We always strive to meet the needs of our community, and this event is a part of that,” said Sheron Rose, the Chamber’s Vice President, Community Strategies. “Having our business community and community at large more informed on these issues helps them in their business while also contributing to the creation of a more well rounded community.”

    Dr. Chris Jones, Executive Director of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub and one of the Summit’s speakers agreed. “Events like the Summit are important because the thing that keeps business leaders up at night is their company’s productivity. Even when they are also concerned about positively impacting society, they know they have to have a healthy business to do that,” he said. “In a diverse and inclusive environment, you see increases in productivity.”

    Diversity means so much more than differences in race and gender, the two categories that often come to mind. Diversity of thought, which stems from different ages, backgrounds, cultures and life experiences, is every bit as important, particularly when it comes to solving problems and fostering innovation.

    We asked Andrea Roger Mosley, Director of the Small Business Development Center at ASU, to share her thoughts on the impact of the Diversity Summit.
    Why are you so supportive of the event? It gives our business community the opportunity for diversity to really be discussed, and it provides chances to network. It also opens the door to increased innovation here, since we know that diversity fosters innovation.
    Who gets the most out of this event? There’s something for everyone. It creates a space where all these entities come together to learn from one another. Millennial and older generations, women, veterans: All these groups do things differently, but they can all benefit from the others’ perspectives.

    What are your thoughts on how a business’ internal culture can affect the community at large? When the business community can come together and have all groups in the room, when new relationships are formed, it bleeds out to the wider community.

    Former CNN Vice President & author of New York Times bestseller “Play Like A Man, Win Like A Woman”
    Session Speaker

    I always want to teach the men and women in the room that difference is okay, and if you really want diversity, then what you want in the room are people who think differently and may have different attitudes on issues. And this isn’t about doing what is right and moral; it’s about how you achieve a better result for your organization. I also focus on how being authentic is important in business. One of the messages women and other minorities have gotten through the years is, ‘You need to be somebody else. If you want to succeed, you need to figure out how to be just the way the white men are.’ But that’s wrong. You need to be you and be authentic, but also be strategic. And being strategic is something women are not as good at in a business setting, while they’re very good at it in their personal life. So that’s why I wrote my book and why I’m now going across the world to help get more women in leadership.

    CEO and Founder of TrainRight
    Opening Session Speaker

    When we talk about diversity, thought diversity is a crucial consideration. It’s amazing to me how everyone thinks so differently. What you find stressful, I may not. And especially now, in a very segmented society, we see a lot of confirmation bias, that is, we only see things that back up our existing beliefs. So part of my focus is how to deal with your internal “fake news.” We need to use our minds to have more control over where our brain goes. Often, we’re wasting energy on self-created problems, not real problems. The big takeaway is don’t let your internal “fake news” become front-page news in your life or work, which will also negatively impact the external. I will present some ways to overcome that.

    Executive Director of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub
    Small Business Series Speaker

    Embracing and creating a diverse environment – and that means people’s backgrounds and ideas – leads to new ways to solve old problems and quicker identification of new challenges. It’s hard to find new, different ways to do things with all the same minds. And it’s about more than just having diversity at the table. Those voices need to know they will be heard; they need to be encouraged and engaged. I’ll be talking about how we’re often looking for talent and opportunities in all the wrong places. I believe that if we really want to be business leaders on the leading edge of innovation, we have to find our talent in diverse pools, places we haven’t traditionally looked. It’s not a novel concept; it is essential for survival in the long term.
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