Leadership and Professional Development : Leveraging Diversity

September 27, 2018
Written by: Olivia R. Wirth, Leasing & Marketing Associate, HSA PrimeCare

On September 25, 2018, CREW Chicago members joined the Leadership and Professional Development Committee for an engaging panel discussion and interactive workshop where they learned about embracing diversity and the business benefits of a diverse workforce.

The panel, moderated by Kaitlin Riley Duran of Schiff Harden, included Collette English Dixon, Executive Director at Roosevelt University’s Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate; Linda Graves, Vice President and Director of Diversity and Community Affairs at Gilbane Building Company; and Emily Portugal, Vice President at Match Marketing Group.

The panel focused heavily on the difference between a diverse company, which simply hires a diverse workforce, and an inclusive work environment, which encourages diverse employees to be actively engaged and fully participatory.  In a truly inclusive workspace, diverse workers feel like they belong, are valued, and can speak out without fear of retribution.  Although this type of environment can be challenging to create, the panelists shared some tips.  Emily encouraged attendees to start by being comfortable and confident in themselves, recognizing their own privilege, staying “woke,” and having open conversations about inequities even when it feels uncomfortable.  Linda suggested leading with heart and maintaining personal authenticity in the workplace so others can follow suit.  Collette recommended being honest with ourselves about how our backgrounds and experiences differ from those around us, and identifying how we can personally do better at being inclusive.

After a lively panel discussion and Q&A, audience members and panelists divided into groups to discuss how their workplaces can be more inclusive, and action items for reaching those goals.  The program ended with each attendee committing to doing one thing the following day to head in the direction of improved diversity and inclusivity.


If you missed this or any other leadership & professional development program, visit CREWTube to watch CREW Chicago’s video podcast.

If you are interested in writing a future CREW Chicago event summary, please contact the communications committee chair and co-chair(s).