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Boise State Summit Focuses on Inclusion, Workplace Diversity


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  • Courtesy Boise State Responsible Business Initiative
As Idaho struggles to attract a more skilled and diverse workforce, some Gem State business owners say they're looking for ways to make their organizations more inclusive and welcoming. That engagement is the foundation of the third annual Diversity and Inclusion Summit, organized by the Boise State University Responsible Business Initiative. The Wednesday, Nov. 1, all-day event will showcase panel discussions and presentations on diversity and inclusion, and an afternoon workshop will focus on so-called "micro-aggression" in the workplace, with the social justice-centered professional development organization Dignitas Agency facilitating the workshop.

"This year, we're focusing on what inclusion looks like, and how we practice it," said Emily Erickson, director of the Responsible Business Initiative. "With the afternoon workshop, we’re really trying to give concrete tools for HR and business leaders, and also the faculty and staff at the university.”

Erickson said she sees a lot of demand for material and best practices associated with diversity and inclusion from Idaho businesses in Boise and across the state. More than 30 employers, including private businesses and nonprofits, will be represented at the summit.

Francisco Salinas, Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion at Boise State University, will moderate a panel on workplace inclusion that includes high-level representatives from businesses like Hewlett-Packard and Micron. For businesses to succeed, he said, they will need to adapt to an increasingly diverse country.

“With any sort of presentation, I hope people get out of it what’s most useful to them. The way we’re framing it, obviously, it’s within a business framework—diversity as a tool for leveraging opportunity,” Salinas said.

Registration for the summit this year quickly sold out, and organizers are already looking toward 2018.

"It’s been a really interesting experience to see how much momentum this has quickly gained and how we’re trying to figure out how to best leverage that," said Erickson. "The conference is obviously one of the best ways to get people together in the same room to have these discussions around defining diversity and inclusion, and where we want to be as a community.


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