Diversity & Talent Summit: Making Sure “All” is a Real All

Diversity & Talent Summit: Making Sure "All" is a Real All 1

Yesterday, our 2022 Diversity & Talent Summit brought together top thought leaders to inspire our attendees and leave them with actionable DEI insights, tools and strategies. For the first time, our summit featured ASL interpreters, a summit chair, and work group sessions that prompted thought-provoking questions and activities for participants to advance their DEI efforts.

Thank you to everyone who joined us, and thank you to our premier sponsor, SpartanNash, for making this event possible.

Also, save the date for next year’s Diversity and Talent Summit! Join us for Remix DEI: Advancing Inclusion in an Increasingly Diverse, Digital, and Divided Age on Wednesday, April 26, 2023.


Major Takeaways from our Speakers

Christina Keller of Cascade Engineering opened the summit by stressing the importance of DEI in building a strong organization where employees can feel safe and thrive.

  • “Talent is a major issue in West Michigan right now,” said Keller. “Diversity, equity and inclusion is a cornerstone to building great talent in our community.”
  • Keller also announced the launch of the Chamber’s new Inclusion Council, which will launch in 2023 and serve as an advisory board to the Chamber’s DEI work. Read more about the council and its members here.


Dr. Margaret-Mary G. Wilson of UnitedHealth Group shared about her struggle of being a black, African, and gay woman and the different barriers she has faced while living in different places.

  • “We tend to categorize people into boxes… that is very basic and can actually be misleading. We need to understand that each person is extremely complex, and we are all completely different from each other.”


Angela Thompkins of Consumers Energy shared her journey towards DEI work and reflected on experiencing discrimination, understanding her own biases, and standing up for what’s right.

  • “To create a DEI strategy, DEI needs to become part of your DNA.”


Our Executive Roundtable discussed how their organizations have each created a unique sense of belonging with their unique DEI strategy.

  • Diane Antishin of DTE Energy highlighted the impact that inclusion can have on our employee’s energy and work ethic.
  • Steve Huizinga of Freedom Construction and Consulting emphasized extending love and kindness to others while keeping a keen eye on diversifying your supply chain.
  • Ana Ramirez-Saenz of La Fuente Consulting shared the true value of fostering belonging in your organization; when an employee leaves your team, it costs about $4,000 to replace them, so invest in your employees here and now.
  • Marcus Jackson of Fifth Third Bank encouraged us to always look around the table and pay attention to those who are missing.
  • Bridget Hurd of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan shared her key equation: diversity plus inclusion = empathy and compassion.


Steve L. Robbins, Ph.D. of S.L Robbins and Associates dove into the science behind why our brains naturally find patterns and want to gather with groups who resemble us.

  • “The human brain wants to be around others that value and care about us. When we’re around those who are similar to us, that “tribe” helps us feel safe and tells our brain it will help us stay alive.”


Finally, Renée Cummings of University of Virginia shared how data science has changed the methodology of every industry and sector. We must constantly be in tune to maintaining integrity and ethical decision-making when using A.I. systems and algorithms.


Take the Next Step

Not sure what’s next in your DEI journey? Our Inclusion Services team is here to help you cultivate an equitable environment for all. Schedule an initial consultation or learn more about our inclusion services on our website.


Don’t Miss our Next Big Event!

135th Annual Meeting: The State of Grand Rapids Business

Join us for the 135th Annual Meeting: The State of Grand Rapids Business on Wednesday, February 1st, 2023! Connect with fellow business leaders and find the latest information on our region’s growth, talent, inflation, innovation, and more.

Register now.


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