ANTHONY SIS: Hello, hello. Good morning, everyone.
AUDIENCE: Good morning.
ANTHONY SIS: Good morning. Good morning. Ooh, that was a weak good morning. Can I get a little bit of a louder good morning?
AUDIENCE: Good morning.
ANTHONY SIS: That was a little better. Hopefully, it'll get better as the day progresses. So than you all for attending our inaugural Inclusive Excellence Summit here, hosted by the Department of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity. My name is Anthony Sis. And I'm the Diversity and Inclusion Training Specialist within the department.
And so I'm really excited for today. I'm really excited for all the workshops that are going to be happening and all the sessions are going to be happening. Well, I'm really excited to kind of be in this space with you all. And I hope you all are just as excited to also really learn from one another and hope that you feel inspired to really make some progress on diversity and inclusion, especially here at Cornell.
And just a note as well-- so for folks who are just coming in, if you cannot find a seat, there is an overflow space on the fifth floor, room 525, where there is also Zoom. So you will also be able to see what's happening in this room as well-- so just for folks who are coming in a little bit at this moment.
So to kick off our morning, I'm really, really excited to introduce Mary Opperman, the Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer here at Cornell University. So I will hand over the microphone to Mary.
MARY OPPERMAN: So do I just hold this? OK. Oh dear-- just testing my coordination. Good morning, everyone.
AUDIENCE: Good morning.
MARY OPPERMAN: I See you got them all warmed up. So thank you very much. I'm really, really delighted and honored to be here today. I was asked to give you some perspectives, both personal and professional, on the issues of inclusive equity and diversity. So I'm going to do that. I'm going to try to talk a little bit about what I believe and what we've learned. But as you all know, these are intersecting issues for a person in my role.
So we are an organization of almost 18,000 employees. I don't think we always think of ourselves that way, in part because we're split between three campuses. But when we put the campuses together, there are nearly 18,000 of us-- faculty and staff. And we are incredibly decentralized. So as we aspire to create the workplace that we know will get and keep the talent we need, we need to recognize that we often make incremental steps. And sometimes we make bigger steps in one part of the organization than we do in another.
So I'm going to start this conversation by talking a little bit about what diversity and equity mean to me personally. I want to start by being honest about this. I am very much a work in progress. My lived experiences are definitely privileged. I've had some experiences in my life that I have struggled with. But for the most part, I am always learning about what it means to have an inclusive workplace. So with that is a really important drop, I'll start.
So one of the experiences of my life that helped me to understand what it means to be fully involved and have a significant difference from the majority-- it occurred in my personal life many years ago. My husband is a sign language interpreter. And we went to an all-signed performance of Children of a Lesser God.
Now, this was profound for me because I couldn't follow along. I wasn't able to blend in because I couldn't follow along. And so I had this-- really, for me-- notable experience of being the other in the room. And it has stuck with me.
So with that as an experience, I've tried through my life, and continue to try, to meet people where they are. And I find that I learn most when I create opportunities to listen to people. And I'll say I learn the most and I'm open to listening without judgment to people when they are struggling, because that's when people are the most honest and open-- if you create an environment where they feel safe to be themselves.
So I enjoy the interactions that are guided by another person who trusts me enough to teach me something I don't know. I actually find this challenging because I-- I don't know how many of you really know this. I know a lot of you in the room. But I'm a pretty introverted person. And so I do better in one-on-one situations than I do in big group situations. But opening myself up to be vulnerable, even in a personal, one-on-one situation, is hard for me. So I work really hard to make those connections, with the goal of understanding.
I understand the value that difference brings to outcomes. And I try to ensure that I uphold a collaborative, supportive, and respectful environment. Now, I need to be honest about this as well. It's not always easy to uphold a sense of openness and fairness with people with whom you disagree. And you may not even know why you disagree, but you disagree.
So that gets me to one of my personal learnings. I don't strive for harmony. When I was brand new here, the university was riding to be "open doors, open hearts, open minds." I was on that working group. And the head of CURW at time, Robert Johnson, said to me-- we were talking about diversity. And at that time, we didn't talk as much about inclusion.
And I said something about helping people get along. And he pulled me aside. And he said, I'm at the end of my career. You're at the beginning of your career. Let me give you a piece of advice. Do not strive for harmony, because in harmony, you homogenize. And in homogenizing, you lose the voices that will bring you some of the best solutions. And so I've always tried to remember that. And sometimes, that means allowing experiences that can feel uncomfortable while we struggle to find an answer that has the benefit of many voices.
So diversity and inclusion also have a great importance to me in my role in human resources. It's well known-- I think, now, by everybody-- that organizations that truly embrace equity and inclusion outperform their peers. We know that this goes far beyond compositional diversity. But I have to say, that really is an important bedrock-- that we have enough difference in our organization that we can actually pull out of that difference the different perspectives that we need to look at and solve a problem.
The work that Angela Winfield's team is doing is focused on increasing cultural competency and setting expectations about what an inclusive community really means. Training and awareness is extremely important. But alone, it does not change a climate in a way that really advances a genuine sense of belonging.
Alone-- say it again. Alone, awareness does not change a climate. We must change how we act in our workplace, how we approach differences to get to outcomes, in order for us to truly be a place where people feel that they can be authentic in the workplace, because we all know, when we're authentic, we're the most honest. When we're the most honest, we bring the best solutions.
So at Cornell, we're committed to embedding One Cornell in our workforce culture and creating a workplace that allows us all to be truly authentic. And I realize that that is very grandiose and probably ever-elusive. But if we don't set an audacious goal for ourselves, then we will not be able to attract and keep the very best people who want to bring their authentic self into the problems-- which are many-- that we face in higher education.
So we are fully committed to this effort. I do think we've made great strides in this area. But it is an ongoing, ongoing effort. And I'll also say it's an effort that we cannot do from a podium or from the dreaded Day Hall. It is something that we have to agree together-- that we believe in enough that we are willing to face our own issues and open ourselves to being different than we might be comfortable in, in any given experience.
So in my role, I have some strategies I try to use. I champion our employees. I always have, and I always will. And that is a bit of walking a tightrope in a university, because we are often-- and you all know this-- we think of, as we should, our students first. And we should do that. And then we'll often hear about the faculty.
But this is a workplace. This is a place where all of us who are here to perform services are workers in a workplace. And so we are both a higher ed institution and an employer. And we want to be sure that our staff can see themselves in the values and the mission of our organization.
So we are building diversity, equity, and inclusion into the strategy that we have in human resources, which fits into the strategy of the university. And how are we doing that? We are using analytics. Now, that may seem odd when we're talking about being inclusive. But data matters. Data matters.
For example, we now know how the generational makeup of our workforce and how it differs from the US workforce. And we know that 62% of our new hires last year were millennials, increasing that cohort of our workforce from 3% to 23%. And we're recognizing that although racial and ethnic diversity of our new hires has increased by 47% in the last five years, minorities account for 13% of our staff and 19% of our bargaining unit.
We must, must do better in retaining the talent we are getting. And we also know that we have an issue in terms of the opportunities to live and experience Ithaca itself. It is an expensive area to live in for our staff. And we need to work with our community to address that.
I'm also obviously responsible for upholding the university's policies and our adherence to laws. Now, sometimes, that compliance sounds like, you know, it's sort of, oh, we just have to do that. But compliance and laws that we uphold, they're there for a reason. And so I'll give you the one that we seem to be spending a lot of time on now.
So Title IX is in my organization. We have new regulations in the sexual harassment in Title IX space from New York state. They're there for a reason. We can comply with the letter of the law, or we can comply with the spirit of the law. So we have decided to do the latter. We have revisions, now complete, for the employee procedures under 6.5 and 6.4.
And we are moving all of our complaints into reviews into one office. So Title IX used to handle the matters primarily related to staff as respondents. And HR looked into matters with faculty and staff. We now are going to have all of those matters reviewed under the office, which will now be called the Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX. This will allow people a more seamless way to have their issues reviewed, looked at, and considered.
So we have also smaller steps. And I'm going to suggest to all of you that you think about these smaller steps. For example, at all HR events and presentations, we take the time to make sure that it is fully accessible to all employees. We always have a microphone. We think about when breaks should be. We ask people if they have any issues that we need to take into account.
It may seem small. But for example, there's somebody in your organization for whom having perfumes and smells will impact their ability to participate. We address those issues. These may seem small. But these are the things that matter if our goal is to allow full participation-- encourage full participation-- in everything that we do.
My role also means supporting diversity education and training for all members of the community. We have our Supervising@Cornell programs now. We have online courses. The programs that we have help people to explore who they are, who they want to be, and how they can get there. These are open and accessible to everyone. So Supervising@Cornell, which is an online program, is free. So if you aspire into a leadership role, take those courses. Get online, and take the courses. That's an opportunity that anyone has to decide their own pathway.
And we're creating behavioral standards and holding leaders accountable for results. Hopefully, by now, you're familiar with the Skills for Success. We have both the Skills for Success and the Leadership Skills for Success. We've refreshed them over the last few years. These are an essential way for us to say what really is important to us in our organization. And obviously, it also means supporting the new initiatives that Angela and her team are doing, including, if you have not heard it, the diversity podcast, as well as the Inclusive Excellence summit today.
So I guess I will get ready to close by saying, in work and in life, creating a culture of belonging is about both the big things and the small things. Familiarize yourself with and use gender-inclusive language. It's OK if you're not sure. Ask someone.
Give visible recognition to colleagues who are contributing to make this a great place to work. Recognition is so important. And if I can-- so we have a new portal, the Recognition Portal. Use it. It is a great way to say thank you to someone. It is a great way to say, I see you. I see you, and I thank you for what you did. It doesn't have to be for a big thing.
And if you're new to this community-- how many of you have been here less than a year? If you are new-- look around. If you are new to this community, it is big. It feels very impersonal at times. A note of thanks, an offer to get a cup of coffee, makes this a slightly smaller place and more welcoming. So please, take the time. Remember what it felt like when you were new here. And reach out and help someone through that first year to 18 months.
Another small step-- use a microphone. This may seem like a small thing, but it's not. Use a microphone. Someone should not have to say, I have hearing difficulties. When you say, can everyone hear me in the back? I'm not going to raise my hand and say I can't. So avoid the issue. Just use a microphone.
Hold a Lunch & Learn with your team, and watch a Lynda.com training on accessible documents. And above all else-- something we should all strive to do every day-- listen. Seek to understand. And withhold judgment.
So as I close, I want to thank you all for being here today. It's a great schedule, including our keynote Tiffany Scott, the Global Inclusion and Diversity Leader at Becton Dickinson. And before I turn it back over to Anthony, I'd like to just ask you all to join me in giving a round of applause to Angela Winfield and her team for the hard work they've put into this summit.
MARY OPPERMAN: Thank you, and enjoy your day.
ANTHONY SIS: Give it up one more time-- one more round of applause for Mary. Thank you very much.
ANTHONY SIS: Thank you for your enlightening remarks. Than you for your enlightening remarks as we start our day today for the summit. And last, but not least, I would like to introduce Angela Winfield as well, to speak some words as well, as we prepare for the summit, who is the Associate Vice President for Inclusion and Workforce Diversity. Give her a round of applause [INAUDIBLE].
ANGELA WINFIELD: So I don't need to be stuck behind the podium, then.
All right, what [INAUDIBLE]. I still can't get closer to you, though.
Good morning. Thank you so much for coming out today for our inaugural Inclusive Excellence summit. Thank you, Mary, so much for those remarks. I'll tell you one thing about working for Mary. She shows so much courage and vulnerability every day, even in hiring me. I remember when I applied for the position. And I sat down, and I talked with her about it. And she was really honest. And I was really nervous because I'm a blind, black woman, right? And I wanted this job.
And she says, you know? I've never worked with a blind person before. I'm willing to. She's like, but you're going to have to teach me. And I was like, oh, I can do that. I can teach you. I can show you. And she was really willing to accept difference. Even though it was new, and she may not know exactly what to do, she was willing to learn. And that meant so much. So I'm just honored to work for someone like Mary.
And I also want to-- before I get into my remarks, I want to thank my team for putting this summit together. They've put in hours and hours of work. Anthony Sis, Carolyn Headlow-- I don't know if Caroline's in the room. She's buzzing around, doing stuff. Darren Jackson, Jaron Brown, [INAUDIBLE] Patel-- all five of them have put in tremendous work. And especially Anthony and Carolyn, they've really taken a lead on putting this together. So if you see them today, please thank them.
So the reason why we're here today, and we're putting on this inaugural Inclusive Excellence summit, is for a number of reasons. One-- right now, institutionally, we're in a period of transition. You may have heard about [INAUDIBLE] Destinations. You may not have. But we're moving into a new, revised model-- a new framework for diversity equity inclusion at Cornell. And we're calling it Belonging at Cornell.
That name may evoke some feelings in you. And it's meant to. When we talk about inclusion in the workplace, that's a feeling. Climate is a feeling. You can tell when something doesn't feel right or when it feels great. And Belonging at Cornell isn't about conforming to Cornell. It's about being able to feel like you can bring your authentic self to work.
When you feel like you belong, there is a sense of psychological safety. There is a sense that you are valued, both for the differences and the perspective that you bring, but also that you are a part of one Cornell. That's what Belonging at Cornell is. And what Belonging at Cornell does is it uses data and metrics to help drive the work that we've already done around awareness into action.
So I'm just going to briefly go through the five metrics of Belonging at Cornell-- just give you a little background on why we're using them and what they mean. The first three metrics are for climate. And this is for our workforce-- faculty and staff. That's what I'm going to focus on.
And the metrics are the sense of belonging. I feel like I belong at Cornell, or I feel like I belong in my department or division of unit. That's that subjective feeling. If people don't feel like they belong, we're not getting the inclusion part right. When people do, we are. So we want to move the needle on that metric. We want people to say that they agree or they strongly agree that they feel like they belong. And if we're doing good, we want to do better. That's the goal there.
The other metrics that we're looking at is fairness-- organizational justice. I feel like I'm treated fairly regardless of my identities or background. This sense that our policies, our practices-- and these are big policies, institution-wide. But these are also the smaller policies and practices that happen every day in divisions, units, teams, departments.
Do people feeling like they're being treated fairly? Is there transparency? Do they know how decisions are being made in a certain way? When people feel and understand that there is fairness behind a decision, it's a lot easier to understand and to feel like you belong and to feel like things are OK, and that you're not being treated differently or discriminated against. So that sense of fairness is something that we really want to look at.
The third climate metric is whether or not a person would have recommend Cornell as a workplace. It's often referred to as an [INAUDIBLE] score. And it measures whether someone would actually recommend-- even though they're here, would they say to a friend of theirs, yes, this is a great place to work? That's what we want them to say. And that's why that number, that percentage of people that agree or strongly agree is so important.
These three things are not the end all, be all of inclusion-- certainly not. These are three metrics. And we've identified them as a proxy for an inclusive climate. And the way that we want to look at these numbers is by identity-- taking surveys of our population, and then looking. What is it across the board? And then what is it if we look at it by gender, if we look at it by race, if we look at it by sexual orientation, of people that have a disability?
Are there differences? And if there are, how do we equalize that and improve the experience for everyone? Focusing on problem areas, but then also focusing on the entire population, because inclusion is good for everyone. If we do it right, and we do it in the way that I know that we can, it helps everyone. No one has ever complained about something being too welcoming or too inclusive.
So those are the climate metrics. We're also looking at compositional metrics in the sense of our hiring and turnover. Mary shared some of these statistics and data with you. We're looking at who's coming in the door. Who are we opening the door and extending offers of employment to? And then what's happening to those people? Are they moving with their feet and deciding this isn't the place? And what is the reason why?
Some turnover is good. We want people to grow and change. But if people are leaving because of climate issues, then we've got a real problem. And we've got to focus it on that. So this is what Belonging at Cornell is. It's about looking at these five metrics collectively-- so across the institution, looking at these metrics, breaking it down, and also looking at it by division, college, and unit level, and figuring out, in our own decentralized places, how do we move the needle on this?
So when we talk about moving the needle, one of the problems was, what needle are we moving? These are the ones. These metrics are the ones that we're focused on moving at the local level and the institutional level. And with that shared collective vision and goal, quite frankly, we can make a difference.
That what Belonging at Cornell is all about. And that's something that we hope to walk you through this summit. We're not to get into the specifics of it. But the way that the summit is designed is in a very intentional way. You have three sets of sessions that are happening-- self-awareness, understanding difference, and transformative action.
This is the path. It's not a linear path. Sometimes you move forward and backward. But they're all interrelated components. They're all necessary components of getting to the place of action. You heard Mary talking about awareness is not enough. We need to act and behave differently. We need act and behave in an inclusive way that matches our level of awareness.
This is the way. So these are the components that we're using to help us, one, self-awareness-- understanding how we think. What is our approach? What are our different perspectives and identities? And we all have them.
The second area is understanding difference. So now that I have a little bit of understanding about myself, what does that mean when I interact with other people that have different identities? What is the experience of someone with a different identity? That's the second component.
But that's not where we stop we can't stop there. And oftentimes, that is where we stop-- not necessarily because we don't want to go any further, because sometimes, it's really, really interesting. We're really curious. And you can spend loads of time in those areas. But as to Mary's point, the learning never stops. So if the learning never stops, we don't want to get stuck just in those areas. We've got to move to transformative action.
So that's the third component of today's summit-- looking at small, tangible, realistic things that we can actually do to make our workplaces more inclusive for ourselves and our colleagues-- small things that we can do. There's probably some big things that we can work on too. And that's great. And we can tackle those. But the difference to help shift the climate and shift the experience are the small things that you can do everything. So we're going to focus on that area too and get us really moving and committed to action.
We've got some wonderful work done today. I want to thank all of our presenters in advance for showing up and presenting. I think you're really going to enjoy the presentations. I know that you've pre-registered for some. There's one that I want to call out because there is still room available.
And just take a look around the room for a second. Take a look around the room. Look at your fellow participants and attendees. Keeping in mind this is a diversity conference-- inclusion conference-- does it look like there may be anybody missing from this conference? You don't need to answer.
But I would say that this audience-- although you're wonderful, and I'm so happy that all of you came and that you signed up, because we did have over-registration and had a long wait list. You are the most eager. You are the most eager. You were the ones that signed up right away and got in.
But take a look. There's other people that need to be in this room as well, that should be in this room, that may be afraid to be in this room for whatever reason. How do we bring this back? And how do we bring this out to them as well?
There's a workshop just over at 423 about who's here. So if you're thinking that you may not want to go far, or you might want to switch-- I'm not encouraging switching, because you pre-registered. But just in case, because there is room available, you may want to take a peek over there.
But we've got some really great workshops. I'm sure whatever you're signed up for, you're going to enjoy and learn something from. And I'm just delighted that you came in. I look forward to getting your feedback. So I hope you enjoy the day. I'm going to turn it back over to Anthony for some housekeeping items.
Thank you. Teamwork.
ANTHONY SIS: Teamwork leads to dream work, everyone. So before we get started with our day with the first breakout sessions, I'm going to go over some-- just things to keep note of as you navigate the spaces throughout the day. And so first of all, in your program, you will notice that there are two blank pages at the end. Yes, that was intentional. But there's no sense of directions of what to do with them.
So what I will encourage you all to do is that as you navigate-- and as you get to meet other people, maybe, that you've never met in other spaces-- maybe write down their name and their net IDs. And so that way, you can do follow-up communication with them. So just keep those two pages of notes however you'd like to use them. But that's just something to offer as something that you can also do with those blank pages as well.
As you can tell, in terms of navigating and coming up to this floor, that elevator use is a little bit tight for the amount of people that we have today. So definitely, if you are physically able to take the stairs, I highly encourage you all to do so. And we as a team highly encourage you all to do so that we can give priority for folks who actually need to use the elevator to get access to the elevator as well as get to the workshop sessions on time for each breakout session.
There are also two gender-inclusive restrooms on the fifth floor. So you're going to read on page three of your program some more information around gender-inclusive restrooms and the importance of them, as well as the importance of gender-inclusive pronouns. So please keep that in mind that if you are looking for a gender-inclusive restroom, both of them are located on the fifth floor.
Last but not least, we will also be collecting your name badges at the end. You can keep the paper. You can keep the design. Keep the name with your pronouns that you listed. But we just ask that you politely return the plastic badges at the very end of today's experience.
So as well-- [INAUDIBLE] mentioned as well-- that there are going to be staff members on each floor of wherever the breakout sessions are going to be. So if you have any questions or come across any difficulties, please do not hesitate to reach out to those folks. They have information that they can better provide to you if you have any questions regarding today's events.
So with that being said, I just want to remind everybody that today is going to be a day full of learning. Remember to smile, be happy and just really be in an open space for learning and observing new information. Do I see a hand for a question?
AUDIENCE: I just had a really quick question.
ANTHONY SIS: Yes?
AUDIENCE: Because I noticed on the printed itinerary we got in the book, the room numbers were different. So I just wanted everyone to know. Is the room numbers correct in the book?
ANTHONY SIS: Yes. That is a great question. So there were some modifications with the room adjustments and the room locations. So for example, the workshop that Angela mentioned is actually in room 329. Now, the-- it's OK. The are no worries. So yeah. But the corrected room numbers are in the program-- the [INAUDIBLE] program. So that is correct.
ANTHONY SIS: All right. So now you have about 15 minutes till the first breakout session starts. So please feel free to grab some breakfast. Bring some food with you to your breakout session. And welcome to the Inclusive Excellence Summit. Thank you all.
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Opening remarks at the first Inclusive Excellence Summit June 11, 2019 with workshops and facilitated sessions for Cornell staff. Opening Remarks by Anthony Sis, of the Department of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity, Mary Opperman, vice president and chief human resources officer at Cornell, and Angela Winfield, associate vice president for inclusion and workforce diversity.
Session topics included unspoken narratives in the workplace; allyship and intersectionality; exploring identity; cultural intelligence in a diverse and global world; retaining and supporting employees of color; creating a culture of inclusion for the deaf and hard of hearing; and key initiatives of the Alliance for Diversity and Inclusion.