October 11, 2017

Business, Leadership, and Race


Ongoing racial tensions in this country are acting as a catalyst for business leaders to delve into issues of race and racism within their own organizations.

Many understand the concept that a diverse workforce is a positive business strategy.  But the lack of a clear path of how to create a culture that allows and embraces diversity can hinder business leaders from even attempting to make changes for fear of doing the wrong thing.

To help guide Rochester area businesses in these murky waters, Expanding Events is sponsoring a unique opportunity from Oct. 19-20 to discuss business, leadership and race with Debby Irving, a noted speaker, educator and author from Cambridge, Mass. She will lead a pair of events that will provide a deeper understanding of the forces that often undermine best intentions as business owners strive to keep pace with our changing workforce.

One Rochester CEO, when told about Irving’s visit, stated: “This is incredibly timely. In my company, we are so aware of our lack of diversity, and we’ve begun to ask ourselves, ‘What is it about how we’re operating that makes us part of the problem?’ ”

Irving will describe her struggle to understand racism and racial tensions. She will also describe how she’s changed the way she works in racially mixed groups and what she has learned about leading an organization.

There will be two opportunities for engagement and exploration with Irving.

Race, Responsibility and Leadership: Blind Spots and Lessons

Irving will lead participants in an exploration of the topic of race, how it relates to them personally, and how it impacts their ability to make clear and informed decisions as leaders. Participants will be encouraged to ask questions and debate the issues. This session will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, at St. John Fisher College. Tickets are $10 with group discounts available.

A Deeper Dive into Leadership and Race: The Beliefs We Hold, the Decisions We Make

Using a series of pointed questions, Irving will work with participants to build a graphic map of the groups to which people belong because of social locations and historical roles in U.S. society. Attendees will identify and discuss their beliefs and assumptions about race-related topics, and how our history and beliefs show up on our organizational cultures. Participants will leave with two powerful tools to analyze power dynamics and cultivate transformative cultures in their circles of influence. There will be opportunities throughout for group discussion, questions and challenges. The workshop will include a panel of experienced leaders:

  • Bill Carpenter, CEO of Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority
  • Randy Henderson, President of Henderson Family Ford
  • Marisol Ramos-Lopez, City Commissioner of Parks and Youth Services

This session will be held from 8:30 a.m. to noon Friday, Oct. 20, at St. John Fisher College. Tickets are $75 and include continental breakfast. Team discounts are available.

Corporate sponsors for the events are Bergmann Associates, Leadership Coaching Inc. and The Rochester Area Community Foundation.

The organizer is Expanding Events, which presents opportunities for business owners and leaders to explore social issues that impact their organizations. For more information and to purchase tickets go to ExpandingEvents.org.