Govern: An Inclusion and Innovation Symposium for the Public Sector

In the fall of 2020 I worked with the City of Columbus Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the office of Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther to design and create an online inclusion and equity symposium focused on those working in the public sector.

We built this event around three barriers to impact-driving change and life-giving culture in the public sector:

  • the challenges of diverse recruitment and retention
  • a status quo built around tenure that often hinders innovation
  • the delicate balance of varied stakeholder voices and votes 

To explore these challenges, we brought in leaders from the diversity, equity, and inclusion space, like Dr. Tiffany Jana, as well as corporate and public leaders.

Our keynote speaker, Dr. Tiffany Jana, was incredible. She is the founder of TMI Consulting, Inc. a diversity, equity, and inclusion management consulting firm, founded in 2003 and headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. 

Dr. Jana is also the co-author of Overcoming Bias: Building Authentic Relationships Across Differences, Erasing Institutional Bias: How to Create Systemic Change for Organizational Inclusion, and the 2nd edition of the B Corp Handbook. Dr. Jana has spoken on the TEDx stage on the Power of Privilege and at SXSW on Unconscious Bias.

It was a real joy to get to chat with her about her work and how she looks at these challenges and solutions.

We organized our three day symposium around a series of unfolding questions:

  • Is inclusion an illusion?
    • We hear a lot about diversity and inclusion, and all of its myriad benefits to an organization, but is it actually even possible? Can organizations create truly inclusive spaces where all people feel like they belong and can thrive?  What might that look like? How do we get there? What stands in the way?
  • Are consistency and innovation at odds?
    • Many join the public sector knowing it’s a stable and secure career path, and that’s part of the value proposition for them. However, if feelings of stability become mutually exclusive to innovating new policies and processes, everyone loses. The job becomes stale, and a status quo culture develops. How do we honor the stability of this sector without minimizing  innovation?
  • What does transformational change look like?
    • Having impact can feel like a magical mix of strategy and execution. It’s about setting visionary goals, articulating them in ways that capture the hearts and minds of those tasked with seeing it through, and inviting stakeholders into the process. And, few organizational leaders are tasked with transformational change more than Chief Diversity Officers. We’ll hear from those leading this charge and take back with us strategic and actionable ways of creating impact around us.

After the conference, we offered a “resource pack” of ideas and articles that came up during the conversations, in an effort to help those that attended take back their learning to their teams and departments. You can see this resource pack, listed by day, below:

Day 1:

Diversity During COVID-19 Still Matters

How to turn corporate antiracism from promise to practice

The Look: Driving Change through Community Conversations

Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters

How the LGBTQ+ Community Fares in the Workplace

7 Ways to Support Black Employees

6 Ways to Foster Inclusion Among Remote Workers

Why diversity and inclusion aren’t about race but everyone thinks they are

What’s in a name?

Equity versus Equality

Day 2:

How Diversity and Inclusion Drive Innovation

Hiring Challenges Confront Public Sector Employers

Diversity Confirmed to Boost Innovation and Financial Results

How Diversity and Inclusion Drive Innovation in National Security

Why Diversity in Necessary For Innovation at the Workplace

Trends Impacting Diversity and Inclusion

Neurodiversity

A Culture that Amplifies Innovation Diversity has Agility, Diversity, & Inclusion

Day 3:

Diversity Wins – How Inclusion Matters

The Power of Gender Equality 

Critical Issues: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion 

Do You Know Why Your Company Needs a Chief Diversity Officer?

Hiring a Chief Diversity Officer Won’t Fix your Racist Culture

4 Steps for Busting Unconscious Bias

Seeing Color: Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man

Reverse Racism: Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man