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Business Leaders Gather to Explore the Impact of Inclusion in the Treasure Valley

The College of Business and Economics (COBE) cohosted the third annual summit on diversity and inclusion as a business driver focused on the impact of inclusion, with more than 150 attendees from across the business community. Held on November 1st, the summit was cohosted by Wells Fargo, the City of Boise, the Boise Valley Economic Partnership (BVEP) and the University of Idaho-Boise.

Dr. Chris Bell presenting the opening keynoteThe Summit keynote address was given by Dr. Christopher Bell, Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor of Communications at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, who impressed participants with a demonstration of the strategies used by the media to introduce and reinforce stereotypes and biases along racial and gender lines. Bringing in familiar examples from well-known media companies such as the Disney Company, the audience was encouraged to improve their media literacy and to evaluate the various storylines that exist in our society more critically.

Two panel sessions followed. Angeli Weller, Co-director of Boise State’s Blue Sky Institute, hosted a conversation on financial inclusion with Alejandro Hernandez, Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo; Lisa Cooper, President and Founder, Figure 8 Investment Strategies; and Ben Wright, Idaho Market Manager, Montana & Idaho CDC. Francisco Salinas, Boise State’s Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion, chaired a panel on workplace inclusion that included Trina Ponce, Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager, HP; Toni L. Carter, Inclusion and Diversity Strategy Director, Idaho National Laboratory (INL); Dawn S. Hutchison, Global Integration and Inclusion Manager, Micron Technology; and Alexandria Suggs, Research and Consulting Coordinator, IBIS Consulting Group and Graduate Assistant, Responsible Business Initiative at the College of Business and Economics.

Stacy presenting for The Dignitas AgencyA closing panel was led by Cofounder and Partner of The Dignitas Agency, Stacy Parson, who wove together the discussions on inclusion from the previous speakers to help attendees understand why inclusion is the most critical – and the most difficult – aspect of any diversity effort. Stacy also highlighted inclusion activities ongoing in the community with short presentations from Diane Lachiondo, Director of Community Partnerships, City of Boise; Pete Gombert, CEO, Goodwell; John Tansey, COO, Happy Family Brands; Gayla Thomas-Dabney, EEO/AA Officer, Boise State University; and Donna Llewellyn, Executive Director, Institute for STEM and Diversity Initiatives, Boise State University. The summit was followed by an afternoon hands-on workshop facilitated by The Dignitas Agency offering attendees practice in building collaborative and inclusive work environments.

Emily Erickson, the Director for the Responsible Business Initiative at the College of Business and Economics, noted that “The conference is one of the best ways to get people together in the same room to have these crucial discussions around diversity and inclusion, and where we want to be as a community.” The next summit will be held in the fall of 2018 and Erickson’s team will seek a larger Boise State venue to accommodate the growing interest from the business community.

The summit was made possible by the following sponsors: Boise State’s College of Business and Economics, Wells Fargo, Boise Cascade, City of Boise, Happy Family Brands, Idaho Power, Saint Alphonsus and Micron Technology.

Special thanks are extended to Summit cohosts Wells Fargo, City of Boise, Boise Valley Economic Partnership, and University of Idaho-Boise.

Questions regarding the 2018 Summit, including sponsorship, presentation and attendance opportunities, may be sent to rbi@boisestate.edu.

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