GDIB Seattle Talks D&I at Google

by: Barbara Deane, GDIB Expert Panelist

September 27 was a “hot” night in Seattle—both in temperature and attendance as close to 200 people flowed into Google, the Platinum and Venue Host for the Seattle GDIB Launch event.

The Launch planning team dubbed the event a “huge success” on many levels: “The GDIB, the highlight of the event, was well received—people are hungry for tools and want more,” Effenus Henderson, noted. Terry Loving was excited to “see the energy around the networking.”  Effenus and Terry are both members of the planning team.

“People didn’t know each other and were surprised and pleased to meet others interested in D&I,” discovered Randall Lane, Expert Panelist. “No matter what level of career, stage or status of the organizations, and or depth of knowledge – the GDIB provided a overview that allowed everyone to audit their practices for the better,” offered Steven Matly. “I loved the question about Intersectionality,” said Barbara Deane, Expert Panelist, “the person wanted to know how the GDIB is handling this issue!” Steven and Barbara are both planning team members and Randall, a presenter at the event.

More than 100 organizations were represented at the event.

Additional Sponsors included Outreach (GOLD Sponsor), Zillow Group (Silver Sponsor), BECU (Bronze Sponsor), and SM Diversity, Institute for Sustainable Diversity & Inclusion, The Diversity Collegium, and the Forum on Workplace Inclusion.

Attendee Reactions

One participant described the GDIB Launch as a “Spa day for my soul!” Another shared that “practitioners need to be held” further noting how important it is for people doing this work to come together—to talk, commune, share their feelings and their struggles.

Another participant remarked, “True belonging is when you don’t have to ask if you belong. [This is] what I look for, what sparks me to continue down this path.”

The Planning Team believed the event’s success was also due to its collaborative approach and the diversity of participants and organizations involved; the combination of Funding Sponsors, Promotional Sponsors, GDIB Expert Panelists, Sector Panelists and Breakout Session Captains created an eclectic forum where participants could share stories, have meaningful discussions, even disagree.

Nineteen Promotional Sponsors, who agreed to promote the event to their lists, “sold out” the free event in 2.5 days. They included: Adaquest, Artimus Connection Strategists, Canadian Centre for Diversity & Inclusion, DiverseCity, LLC,, Eastside Race Leadership Coalition, Executive Development Institute, Figure 8 Consulting, LLC, Global Peaceful Paths, Henderworks Consulting, Housing Development Consortium of Seattle-King County, HR West, Insperity, NW Diversity Learning Series, ReBoot Seattle – Career Accelerator for Women; The Bright Group, and Uniquely HR.

More than 250 people signed up on the wait list and the Planning Team has decided to host a webinar on November 3, 2017, for those who could not get into the Launch event.

The Launch Event Program

Eric Young, vice president and site lead for Google Seattle & Kirkland opened the event with a rousing welcome and a quick introduction to the Google approach to D&I, then Kirk Mead, director of Development and Communications for the Technology Access Foundation took over as Master of Ceremonies. Julie O’Mara, GDIB co-author joined for a virtual cameo appearance. And as a surprise to GDIB Expert Panelist, Barbara Deane, Julie announced that she was the second recipient of the GDIB Vanguard Award for those leading the way in new ideas, actions and movements [see related article].

During the first hour of the event, Expert Panelists (EPs), Barbara Deane and Randall Lane, both local to Seattle, introduced the GDIB via a “conversation” about it.

The Sector Response Panel rounded out the first hour capturing the audience’s interest with their stories and experiences related to two questions:

1. What is one of the primary Diversity and Inclusion challenges your organizations faces?

2. How have you dealt with this challenge systemically?

The Panelists were:

  • Traci Fuller, Global Talent Diversity & Inclusion Manager, The Boeing Company, (Corporate respondent)
  • Marty Kooistra, Executive Director, Housing Development Consortium of Seattle-King County (Non-profit respondent)
  • Michael Benitez, CDO and Dean for D&I, University of Puget Sound (Higher Education respondent)
  • Ken Wong, Supervisor of Equity and Student Success, Bellevue School District and recently been with the City of Redmond (Government respondent). Ken is also a GDIB user.

The second hour of the event featured 15 Breakout Sessions facilitated by experienced practitioners. The switch to Breakouts created lots of excitement as 25 Googlers (Google employees attending the event) lined up around the big meeting room (called The Center of the Universe) with their colorful high-held numbered signs to guide participant to their respective rooms.

Breakout Sessions & Captains (facilitators):

#1 –  Inclusive Leadership in Disruptive Times, Effenus Henderson, Co-Director, Institute for Sustainable Diversity & Inclusion

#2 –  How to Craft a D&I Strategy, Venus Rekow, CEO, Neural Shifts

#4 –  D&I in Workplace Planning and Performance,  Tammy Pitre, Senior Statewide Workforce Planning Strategist, WA State Office of Financial Management/Statewide Human Resources

#5 –  Grassroots Diversity. The Art of Thinking Independently Together, Amanda Townsend, HR Program Manager, & Kim Weed, Talent Management Leader, Outreach (GOLD Sponsor)

#6 –  Leaders Have a Role in Women Leaders’ Success, Mikaela Kiner, Founder CEO, Uniqely HR

#7 –  Changing Outcomes for Recruitment & Retention, Detective Carrie McNally, Recruiter, Seattle Police Dept.

#8 –  Recruiting for Diversity, Kyle Schnell, Recruiting Manager, & Jennifer Daniel, Sourcer, BECU (BRONZE Sponsor)

#9 –  (Re)Imagining Race Based Conversations, Joy Wiggins, Director, Global Peaceful Paths, & Toi Sing Woo, Founder, New Directions Consulting, LLP

#10 –  The Pick and Roll to Change: Using Basketball as a Metaphor to Progress Diversity in the Workplace,

Cindi Bright, President, The Bright Group

#11 –  The D&I-Sustainability Bridge: How Can Effective D&I Advance Performance on Material Issues? Sun McElderry, Chief Engagement Officer, Framework LLC

#12 –   Ensuring D&I Success: Essential Elements Not To Overlook, Michelle Perez, Principal, and Anna Nordstrom, Strategist, Artemis Connection

#13 –  How National Coverage of the Hate Movement Affects Bigotry at Work, at Home, and in Communities, Lonnie Lusardo, Principal Consultant, The Diversity Collaborative

#14 –  The Bamboo Ceiling and Asian-Americans in the Workplace,  Michael Villanueva, Global Diversity & Inclusion Specialist, The Boeing Company

#15 –  Shifting D&I Training from Inactive to Best Practice, Karen Wilkins-Mickey, Director, Diversity & Inclusion, Alaska Airlines

Final Hour Debrief

The final hour of the event opened a debrief in which attendees were invited to speak to one of three options:

1. Share your most important learning of the evening …

2. Share one significant thing you are taking back to your company or organization to implement, or …

3. Ask a question

Kirk Mead, the MC, invited participants to take the floor by catching a “ball toss”, then participants invited others to speak in the same way.

One participant shared, “Hate is driven by fear, those who are fearful are often disaffected, who don’t feel they are included. We have to make them a part of the D&I conversation.” Another asked a difficult question, “How can I engage in a civil conversation with someone who is okay with my demise?” Another asked, “How do we keep up the energy and commitment for this work?” One participant asked for “Version Two: Bring colleagues back to operationalize the GDIB—i.e., do another event!” Another asked for more “networking time” the next time! Finally, one person asked, “How do we change behaviors, to get soulful buy-in?”

The Launch Planning Team is deliberating about what they might do next to support what participants are asking for—more learning opportunities, more connections and networking, more D&I development.  We’ll see what comes next!

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