White Paper – “Transparency in Sharing Diversity and Inclusion Practices”

This is an interesting white paper on “Transparency in Sharing Diversity and Inclusion Practices” that I came across through an organization I am involved with, the Global Diversity and Inclusion Foundation. It is very interesting and certainly something I encountered last year when working on the Inclusive Excellence Case Competition.

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Life Update From The Past Month +

It has been quite some time since I’ve written a regular blog post on here.  May and the beginning of June just flew by!  The end of college came and went – way too quickly!  I am hoping to start doing a better job of blogging again now.  In the meantime, I figured I would give some updates on what I have been up to during the past month and half or so (In no particular order).  I don’t know if anyone will read this, but just in case…

  • I graduated.
  • I co-chaired the University of Denver’s 10th Annual Diversity Summit on Inclusive Excellence.
  • Earlier (end of April) I competed in the University of Denver’s Inclusive Excellence Case Competition. Life got really busy though and I never wrote about that experience, but my team developed a comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategy for MolsonCoors, focusing on its international business units.
  • I have gotten to know some amazing people.  This includes quite a good number of the international (specifically Chinese) students at the Daniels College of Business.  I am so happy for the opportunity to become friends with so many great people.
  • I went to a protocol dinner.  I have never had sorbet between courses or three wine pairings at one meal.  I don’t even know if I have ever even had a wine pairing… 🙂
  • I attended part of TEDxDU.  There were some pretty awesome speakers.
  • I completed group papers that involved meetings with and research into Vail Resorts (on human resource strategy) and Love Grown Foods (on business sustainability).
  • I saw the University of Denver’s lacrosse team play in the NCAA final four game… on TV.
  • A friend and I created a Wiki with extensive research and best practices about onboarding and orientation programs.
  • I met up with several friends who came back to visit Denver.
  • I went by the Native Student Alliance’s Pow Wow at the University of Denver.  It was awesome and I wish I could have stayed longer.
  • I went to a Cardinals vs. Rockies game at Coors Field.
  • I went bowling and played laser tag with my cousins in Littleton.
  • I had funnel cake. 🙂
  • A friend and I wanted to go camping, but unfortunately that did not happen.  Apparently finals meant there would be a lot of work to do…
  • I worked with a team as part of my MBA capstone class on a feasibility study/business plan for the creation of a Neurology Clinical Pharmacy Specialist (PharmD) position at Denver Health.  We presented to the Associate COOs and several other executives at Denver Health.  The formal ask will be made soon.
  • I have subscribed to Fortune, Fast Company, The Economist, and several other magazines.  I need to stay current and engaged to be competitive and innovative in the marketplace and to engage in intelligent conversation.
  • I went to a lot of goodbye dinners.  Some on the same night.
  • I went to a pool party.
  • I smiled.
  • I cried a little.
  • I laughed a lot.
  • I left my position at the Center for Multicultural Excellence.
  • I moved back to St. Louis.
  • I have been catching up with friends at home.
  • I have been debating going to Las Vegas with some friends but plane tickets are really expensive.
  • I am trying to figure out my future – weighing options, balancing priorities, etc.
  • I have been applying for a lot of jobs and have had several interviews lately.  I am hoping that some positive progress might happen in regards to my future very soon.

That’s a lot.  And there is a lot more.  Hopefully, I will have time to post updates on life, what I am thinking, and interesting things I come across online.

University of Denver Graduation Profile

I graduated with my MBA on Friday, June 3, 2011! (More on that to come soon.)  The University of Denver (DU) highlighted a handful of graduates.  I was one of them.  The story is below:

Joel Portman started his career at DU as a management major.

 

But try as he might, he couldn’t shake the notion that he was learning more about leadership from his extracurricular activities than from his classes.

 

Then again, he didn’t spend his free time just hanging out or going to hockey games; instead, he raised $300,000 for Hillel as an intern, served as a student senator, fought for religious accommodations for Muslims, Jews and other minorities on campus and worked as the coordinator for intergroup relations at DU’s Center for Multicultural Excellence (CME).

 

“I like bringing together different groups … and being able to think and explore,” Portman says.

 

DU’s dual-degree program offered the perfect compromise: Portman could get a bachelor’s in international studies — with a concentration in international security and conflict resolution — and an MBA.

 

“It has the economics piece but it also has the [focus on] relationships, and how people understand and interact with each other,” Portman says. “The MBA is allowing me to go into more depth with people who actually care; to learn what strategy is and how to apply that. I like to be able to understand what’s working, what’s not, why and how it can be improved.”

 

He’s now set to graduate June 3 with both degrees.

 

Portman came by his ambition — and his interest in social justice — at a young age. In high school, he went on a summer trip to Poland and Israel with his youth group, which was trying to settle on a project for Holocaust Awareness Week.

 

“I researched it and decided we should expand to genocide awareness more broadly,” Portman says.

 

Before long, Portman had founded his own nonprofit, Never Again!, dedicated to raising awareness about the Holocaust and the genocide in Sudan and Rwanda.

 

Though he’s since turned over the presidency, he remains active in that and other social justice groups.

 

At DU, he joined the Social Justice Living and Learning Community early on.

 

“I got involved with [DU’s] Undergraduate Diversity Committee and the [DU] Programming Board. I started exploring that more in depth and it just piqued my interest. I saw a lot of opportunity for improvement, and I like planning programs — so I figured it would be a good way to apply my skills, learn more and influence the community.”

 

He didn’t stop there.

 

In 2008 — his junior year at DU — Portman studied abroad in Be’er Sheva, Israel.

 

“It’s in the desert, so it has a lot of Bedouin, as well as a lot of immigrants from Ethiopia and Russia,” Portman says. “I had Jewish, Muslim and German roommates — and I met people from all over the world. It really shaped how I interact with people. [Be’er Sheva] was not very Westernized, so I had to interact with people the way they did. It’s very interesting to figure out how people come together and how conflict resolution happens.”

 

When he returned, Portman began putting those skills to work by volunteering at the CME. He’s quickly risen through the ranks and now is responsible for planning and producing workshops and training about diversity. His flagship event, the Diversity Summit, this year attracted almost 650 attendees, who discussed and strategized ways to improve inclusion and identity.

 

As a result of his work at the CME, Portman is in demand as a speaker himself; last year, he hosted a workshop at a national conference in Wisconsin, and this year he presented at a conference of several colleges.

 

Though Portman has been named DU’s 2011 Student Employee of the Year — and should be able to pretty much write his own job description upon graduation — he’s not resting on his laurels.

 

“I had a job offer but turned it down because it was in a place I didn’t see myself living. I want to be able to contribute value to the organization and be with them for more than a few years,” he says.

 

He would consider a position in consulting, project management, organizational development or training.

 

“I think doing diversity work in international businesses is my ideal job — even if it’s not in the title.”

 

Despite his numerous accomplishments, Portman comes across as remarkably humble— like when he outlines his ultimate plans for the future: “A lot of the successes I’ve had have been because of the support I’ve had from other people. My long-term goal is to be able to give back and help other people. A lot of what I’m doing now is building skills in other student leaders, so they can be successful. I want to stay involved in the community and give back, in terms of time and financially, to help other people do the work they’re passionate about.”

 

DU’s graduate Commencement ceremony begins at 4:30 p.m. June 3 at Magness Arena. For more information or to watch a live stream of the ceremony, visit the DU Commencement website.

 

Reflections on the University of Denver’s 10th Annual Diversity Summit on Inclusive Excellence

[This should have been posted four weeks ago!  Wow, May has been incredibly busy!]

10th Annual Diversity Summit on Inclusive Excellence

Friday, May 6, 2011 was the University of Denver’s 10th Annual Diversity Summit on Inclusive Excellence – the largest program I work on in my role at the Center for Multicultural Excellence.

The Summit has grown significantly.  Ten years ago, 25 people participated.  When I got involved 250 people participated in the Summit.  This year, I wanted to grow and expand the Summit both in terms of content and participation.  We have been spending the daylong conference on understanding diversity and inclusion and discussing research in the field.  Our community was ready for putting these ideas into practice and understanding why diversity and inclusion truly matter.

I co-led a committee of 32 students, staff, faculty, administrators, and alumni in the development of a new program: we built on the educational foundation of the summit while expanding into three tracks: Business & Industry, P-20 Education (pre-school through higher education), and Philanthropy & Community.  There were many more opportunities for focused tracks, but we thought these would be a good testing ground for focusing on how diversity and inclusion are of value in each of these arenas and why our constituents need to learn about and apply diversity and inclusion in order to be successful now and in the future.

We had approximately 650 participants and evaluations have been extremely positive.  University leadership connected with our keynote message more than ever before, we connected with the broader community in news ways, and gained national exposure for our program.  Our speakers actually began to make their own connections and our Summit resulted in multiple new partnerships with long-term value and donations to the University.  Participants left with real, tangible action items and a better understanding of our focus areas.  In addition, our committee was able to embed the program as a University-wide program through a focus on cross-functional collaboration.

The feedback I received has been both positive and personally meaningful.  A friend who is a first-year student commented the following to me on Facebook:

I’m sorry I did not get the chance to attend the Diversity Summit today, I was REALLY looking forward to it, but I got very ill and ended up having to see a doctor to prescribe some medicine. Hopefully I can attend next year! You’ve been a great role model to many of us freshmen and i wish you luck on your endeavors after you graduate!

I was in the library the day after the event and someone else came up to me and said “I saw you at the Diversity Summit on Friday and wanted to let you know that you did a really good job – it was a great event.”

I share this feedback because I believe that the collective efforts of multiple people made the Summit a success.  If my role in that and in the other things in which I have been involved have positively influence people, then I am leaving the legacy at the University of Denver that I hope to.  All of us need to think about how we can improve our communities and how we can develop meaningful interactions, relationships, and friendships.

So many people helped make the event a success.  Thank you to our amazing committee and the great speakers and presenters who contributed to an amazing event!

Click here for a copy of our e-program with details on the 10h Annual Diversity Summit on Inclusive Excellence.

Click here for some pictures from the Summit.

Global Diversity and Inclusion Foundation

Since it seems I never posted anything about this: In January I became a Board Member of the Global Diversity and Inclusion Foundation (GDIF), a 501(c)3 non-profit.  It is an organization that is doing some great work in the diversity and inclusion arena.  I am privileged to be associated with such an organization and the leaders who comprise its board.  Here is some information of the organization and I suggest reading more on their website:

The Global Diversity & Inclusion Foundation (GDIF) is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit.  We are much more than simply a list of best practices, Global Diversity & Inclusion Foundation leads the pack with standing out above the rest.  The way we do this is to understand and address diversity & inclusion by focusing on Business Cultural Intelligence in everything we do.  That means we help develop a mind-set that can be applied to any number of countries, cultures, and business situations. It is a systematic way to approach the tremendous variety of interactions and challenges that business people must face around the world – much easier and more realistic than documenting every trait of every culture and preparing to cater to each. We apply all our divisions’ activities in a three-stage process for becoming culturally intelligent. These steps involve learning the fundamental principles of cross-cultural interactions, such as what cultures are, how they might vary, and how they affect behavior; practicing mindfulness and paying attention in a reflective and creative way to cues; and developing a collection of behavioral skills that can be adapted to different situations.  This value helps us to understand diversity while working towards inclusion, especially how it affects the bottom-line of all organizations.

Mission Statement: The Global Diversity and Inclusion Foundation enables businesses to achieve optimum revenue and market share growth while providing employees with equal opportunity to attain the highest returns on their personal talent.

As GDIF grows in the years to come, you can expect great things to come.  In addition to the standard board responsibilities involving organizational development and oversight, I am managing GDIF’s presence and growth on social media, online networking, and blogging.

Build-A-Bear Catch-Up

Alright, so I have been slacking in my blog posts – but there is a lot to write.  I am going on vacation immediately after my internship ends (!) on Friday though and unfortunately, do not have a ton of time.  As such, I will not be able to go into as much depth on some of these topics as I would have otherwise done.

On Monday, all of the interns gave a presentation on each of our experiences this summer at Build-A-Bear Workshop to the Chiefs and Managing Directors of the company as well as all of the intern supervisors.  We had five minutes to cover a lot of information: who I am, summary of projects, highlight a key project(s) (I selected the International Holiday Toolkit), key takeaways from the summer, and the affect of the internship on career plans.  My presentation went well I believe (I mean, it did include a vuvuzela on the table and a joke about Excel) and I have been pleased with the feedback I have gotten – including from the CEO and from the President!

Yesterday, I had the privilege to sit down for about half an hour with Maxine Clark, Chief Executive Bear and Chairman of Build-A-Bear Workshop.  She was very welcoming.  Meeting with her was not stressful, but rather seemed like a conversation with a very knowledgable friend.  She asked what questions I had about the company or her.  I asked about her thoughts on company growth,the role of international, the importance of philanthropy to her personally and to the company, how she manages time, company culture, when she knew she “made it”, what was the inspiration behind the company/what convinced her to give up her job as President of Payless Shoesource to start Build-A-Bear Workshop, among other questions.  She was very honest and shared some of her personal history with me.  It was a great conversation.  It is easy to see why she is so admired and how the company has grown so quickly.  She is definitely a role model.  Maxine ended our conversation by asking for a hug. 🙂

Today was the quarterly BearQuarters meeting.  I was involved in a few parts for which we practiced yesterday.  They began the meeting by recognizing new associates, including the interns.  We got several shout outs, which was nice.  Maxine introduced the first speaker, a lady from the United Way.  Her story was extremely potent.  Build-A-Bear has a company campaign to support the United Way and this was certainly a great way to get people energized for it.  The meeting included presentations by Tina Klocke, Chief Operations and Financial Bear (CFO), and John Haugh, President and Chief Marketing Bear, about the state of the business.  It certainly is encouraging.  There was also a presentation on corporate sales.

I was involved in two other pieces of the meeting: the international presentation and the fashion show.  Tim made a presentation at the meeting on news about the international franchisees including new business development, world cup sales, landmark store sales, and awards in Australia.  In honor of the success of Mexico, we had pinatas which we broke during the meeting.  It was a great surprise.

Before Maxine spoke to conclude the meeting (during which time she mentioned the importance and value of diversity!), there was a fashion show to show off the new product that will premiere during the quarter.  Most of the interns helped with this.  It was the first time I have been paid to be in a fashion show! Although, I guess the animals had the fashion…  Be sure to check out the Smallfrys when they premiere in September.  They are awesome and I really want them… all.  I am glad that I had the opportunity to see one of this meetings and participate in it.

I have been working on a lot of projects lately including preparing PowerPoints for the fall International Operations Summit, new business government filing for expansion, evaluation of world cup sales in anticipation of 2014, preparing the FY2011 International Department budget, and more.  I will post my final list of projects after the internship is over.

Today I was putting together one of the PowerPoints for the fall Summit and included the video from the Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For”.  If you watch it, you will see several people I have ben working with closely this summer – including my new dog friend, Heath.

Tomorrow, Cory and I are going to lunch with the international team.  I’m looking forward to it, but it also makes me a bit sad to realize that the internship is ending.  I have several other meetings tomorrow though.  When I met with Maxine, she suggested meeting with a few other people before I leave so tomorrow I am meeting with Tina (CFO) and Eric Fencl (General Counsel).  I look forward to those meetings.

It was clear from today’s meeting that we have been appreciated and our work recognized throughout the company.  I will certainly miss working there.  Two more days.  Wow!

DUing Something

On May 13, the University of Denver hosted TEDxDU, an independently organized TED event.  For the program, I was interviewed as a spotlight video to be shown between speakers.  They just posted it on YouTube.

Recent School Newspaper Articles

I’ve been quoted or featured in several University of Denver school newspaper articles over the past few weeks.  Our paper, The Clarion, has gotten a lot better over the years, but their accuracy in reporting and fact checking sometimes still leave a lot to be desired (depending on the article, of course).  Many people at DU think that students do not read The Clarion.  I disagree and believe that more people are aware of what the newspaper writes about than may be recognized.  The paper is published weekly on Tuesdays.

In the May 4 issue, an article was printed about the 9th Annual Diversity Summit on Inclusive Excellence, which I helped plan and organize.  While there are some factual errors and Mia’s last name is misspelled (it is “Elizardi”), the article is pretty good and positive.

In the May 11 issue, I am in the paper twice.  Javi and I had been interviewed to give our opinion of Antoine and Jim, one year after we lost to them in AUSA Elections.  The article was supposed to appear in the May 4 issue, but apparently the newspaper editors thought it would help Jim and Felipe (who we were supporting in the USG Elections) and they did not want to print it.  As such, it got tacked on as an addendum to an article interviewing Antoine and Jim.

Similarly, I have mentioned the letter to the editor that Javi and I had written endorsing Jim and Felipe, that The Clarion would not print.  I was contacted last weekend about editing the letter and having it printed this past week.  At first I was opposed, but then decided to use the opportunity to try to encourage more student activism and to challenge all new USG representatives to actually fulfill the platforms on which they ran. (Crazy idea, right? – and in this picture – which is from when we ran in the 2009 elections – my tie is messed up because of the wind. oy.)

If you are interested in other, older, letters to the editor I have written or articles in which I have been quoted, visit The Clarion‘s website and search for my name.