Kaitz Commentary

As we enter Diversity Week 2018, the national landscape is much changed. #Metoo, #TimesUp, inclusion riders, inequality in popular films and lack of inclusion in the director’s chair all leave us with a sense that progress is elusive and unattainable. But, as an optimist, I’d offer that the opposite is true. The fact that we are having these hard conversations about entrenched issues is in itself progress. The fact that a broad base of people is now included in the conversation, offering ideas, creating programs and partnering with established organizations are all leading to progress that was unthinkable a mere five years ago.

Diversity Week in our industry has always been about reflecting on where we are now and how we move forward as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion. It is about having those hard discussions about DEI and highlighting the people and programs that make ours one of the most sought-after industries in the world. Our partners and grantees are also tackling these issues and their conference schedules reflect thinking from some of the best and brightest in the industry.

As I step into my new role as Executive Director of the Walter Kaitz Foundation, I’m excited about where we are as an industry and even more motivated about where we are headed. Our partner organizations are tackling real-world business issues and the Walter Kaitz Foundation is with them every step of the way. This is evidenced by the dynamic conference agendas from WICT and NAMIC that reflect thinking from the best and brightest in the industry.

• 32nd Annual NAMIC Conference – Empower Leader, Create Superheroes will feature prominent voices on the world stage discussing the current state of our political discourse and delving into how companies can get D&I right.

• 2018 WICT Leadership Conference – The Intersection of Imagination and Activation includes industry leader, activists, and business experts who will be discussing the similarities between star athletes and star corporate performers; while also contemplating moving past the #MeToo hashtag to visualize what can be a productive space for women in corporate America.

This year the Walter Kaitz Foundation will celebrate a milestone year as well. Diversity Through the Decades is the theme for our 35th Annual Dinner. A celebration of how far we’ve come and where we are going. And your support of the dinner assists our partners at WICT and NAMIC in the vital work they do in training leaders, providing them resources to further their careers and helping them master our ever-changing industry.

Our industry is committed to diversity and inclusion and not because it ‘feels’ right, but rather because it aligns with both our business objectives and our personal values. Our view is that inclusive leadership is a broader and a much more intentional and effortful process, one we work at every day. In essence, inclusion of diversity means adaptation. Leaders must alter their behaviors and the surrounding workplace to suit the needs of diverse talent, ideas, customers and markets.  Something we at the Walter Kaitz Foundation strive to do each day.

We hope you enjoy Diversity Week and we hope to see you at this year’s Kaitz Dinner.