On June 20th-21st, I was fortunate enough to attend the Diversity Best Practices Network Affinity Leadership Congress.
The Network & Affinity Leadership Congress is the premier U.S. conference that brings network and affinity groups from all industry sectors together to share effective practices to help their companies gain the competitive edge.
Now in its 11th year, NALC returned to Newark with a theme of Empower. Rise. Grow. The program highlighted innovative ways companies and ERGs are:
· Empowering leaders to leverage social capital to achieve goals and drive change
· Rising by advancing the diverse talent gap
· Growing leadership skills and generating new ways to upgrade business impact
At NALC, ERG leaders from leading Fortune 500 companies come together for peer-to-peer learning, skill-building with subject matter experts and diversity leaders, and networking with colleagues from a variety of affinity groups and business sectors. Leaders in the affinity and diversity worlds share their effective practices on how to make ERGs strategic, sustainable, innovative and engaging.
Attendees learn effective and creative solutions and gain new ideas for maximizing the business value of their ERGs while helping to make them stronger, more relevant and valued. A focus is also placed on the enhancement of leadership development opportunities, recognition of valued contributors, and recruitment of fresh talent and succession planning for ERG leadership roles.
About Diversity Best Practices
Diversity Best Practices, a division of Working Mother Media, is the preeminent organization for diversity thought leaders to share best practices and develop innovative solutions for culture change. Through research, benchmarking, publications and events, DBP offers members information and strategies on how to implement, grow, measure and create first-in-class diversity programs.
Presentations and Panels
One of the presentations at the Congress that I gathered great insights from was given by fellow West Point graduate, Matt Price (Class of 2003) who discussed his role at Oracle as their Military and Veteran Employee Network (MAVEN) National Co-Chair. From Matt’s presentation, I learned great methods and strategies for raising ERG funds, including how he was able to promote and execute his group’s 5K run veteran fundraiser. I was extremely impressed by how Matt applied Agile methodologies to his ERG event through planning and consistently checking in with his team and stakeholders in order to get a good pulse of how his plans were being developed and executed.
(Pictured: Matt Price)
(Pictured: West Pointers Paul Severni '11, Matt Price '03, Nolan Melson '12)
Another great presentation was by Dr. Lissa Young, who is also a fellow West Point graduate (Class of 1986). She discussed her journey from West Point cadet, to Army helicopter pilot and being forced to leave the Army due to her sexual orientation. After leaving the Army, she had a brief stint at Raytheon working in sales in an unfamiliar country with a male dominated working culture, and eventually ended up getting her masters and doctorate from Harvard, and became an Assistant Professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point in the Behavioral Sciences & Leadership Department. During Dr. Young's discussion, she also emphasized how “veterans want to be at an organization where they matter.” I also appreciated how Dr. Young discussed the many leadership lessons that she experienced throughout her career, and how “as a leader, you must embrace your fears,” and not cave into the pressures of the current environment that you are operating in.
My Presentation on “Measuring Employee Resource Group Success” at Capgemini
In addition to attending many insightful panels on various topics, I presented on “Measuring Employee Resource Success” at Capgemini. I presented on how we use Jennifer Brown Consulting’s 4’C Model (Commerce, Career, Culture Community) in order to measure the impact of Employee Resource Groups in the form of an ERG Score Card. I also discussed how my own role as a North America Co-Lead for the Capgemini Veterans ERG allowed me to leverage this ERG Score Card for our 2016 and 2017 VERG activity planning.
Additionally, during my 45 minute presentation and Q&A, I discussed how we analyzed the data from our 2016 ERG Score Card, and used the data to plan and execute such VERG events as the Fort Hood Mega Career Fairs, SXSW Job Market and Interactive, Merivis Foundation Cohort 3 sponsorship of Salesforce Administration training for 17 veterans and military spouses, VA Hospital visits, and other impactful VERG events. Furthermore, I would like to recognize my fellow outstanding panelist, Leonard "Lex" Musta, and our amazing facilitator Wendy Wark (pictured below).
Honorable Mention for Affinity Group Leadership Award
Another major highlight of the events was receiving the “Honorable Mention” for Diversity Best Practices’ “Above-and-Beyond Award” in the “Affinity Group Leadership” category in recognition of outstanding contributions made to Capgemini. For me, this recognition is truly a team award and gives credit to all of the hard work and dedication that our team at the VERG has been doing over the past two years. Furthermore, I would like to give a shout out to fellow NA VERG Co-Leads Paul Dailey, Rick Finlay, Ken Nuehs, VERG Executive Sponsor Stephen Fleet, NA Communications Leads Sara Watson and Terry Fitch, and the rest of the VERG team for making a strong impact in the veteran community.
Additional background on the award, "the people nominated in the “Affinity Group Leadership” category are individuals whose grit and determination has led to the creation, success and/or turn-around of their network/affinity group.
Deborah Munster, Executive Director of Diversity Best Practices says, "we are thrilled to honor these stellar companies and their employees for raising the bar by going “above and beyond” in pursuit of greater parity, diversity and inclusion. Their outstanding contributions play a vital role in driving business success and impacting positive change.”
Looking back at the event, I am extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to attend and present on “Measuring Employee Resource Group Success” at Capgemini, and I am truly honored to have received the "Honorable Mention" for the Affinity Group Leadership Award. I would highly recommend Diversity Best Practices conferences to anyone who is looking for an event to learn from and engage with diversity & inclusion professionals from a wide range of companies and industries. Furthermore, I hope to attend another DBP conference in the near future and I encourage those interested in attending a conference to please feel free to reach out to me for further questions about my experience.
(Pictured: West Pointers Peter Song '97, Matt Price '03, Dr. Lissa Young '86, Nolan Melson '12)