The Global Inclusion Online Forum 2021 — as it happened

The world’s number one conference on diversity and inclusion has ended after 8 days of intensive sessions. With over 3000 attendees and more than 80 speakers from around the globe, the Global Inclusion Online Forum 2021 (GIOF) was organized by CFC Big Ideas and became the consultancy’s second annual online event. The forum united the world’s leading diversity and inclusion (D&I) executives, HR consultants, and diversity and inclusion activists.

Spanning a week and one day, the event comprised two days of keynote speeches, panel discussions, and a startup competition, followed by six days of practical workshops. This year’s program also featured Inclusion Business Awards, an Online Expo, and a special project called “100 words on diversity & inclusion.” In light of this theme, the forum covered such critical topics as business leadership, recruitment, and gender equality, in addition to discussions on LGBTQ+, disability, racial and financial inclusion.

“DE&I is a journey that we are all on together. I truly believe that we have begun a journey that has no end and that will make us all better for it. Events and discussions like these move us all forward for one another and for our teams,” said Steve Bilt, CEO of Smile Brands & Smiles for Everyone Foundation.

Among the forum’s speakers and workshop providers were representatives of top-tier global organizations and corporations such as Deloitte, Forbes, Intercorp, GitLab, Microsoft, Mind Gym, Moody’s, Smile Brands, Sun Life, and UN Globe. Sponsors of the forum were Moody’s (a global integrated risk assessment firm), MindGym (behavior change specialists), and Sun Life (a leading international financial services organization).

Other participants of the GIOF included leaders of Acosta, Amazon, Boeing, Facebook, Google, Honeywell, LinkedIn, McKinsey & Company, Siemens, SunPower and Wayfair. 70% of participants hailed from North America, 20% from Europe, 7% from Australia, and 3% from Asia, South America, and Africa combined. The Global Inclusion Online Forum covered all time zones, a testament to its true universality.

While discussing gender equality, panelists emphasized the importance of gender-neutral advertisements and suggested introducing blind reviews as a possible problem solver. They also discussed the fallacy of trying to change women’s personalities in order to make them conform to the workplace, instead emphasizing how to create an appropriate environment for everyone.

“Women don’t actually need your help and don’t need any fixing. What we need is for everybody to recognize that a more equal workplace serves as a benefit for every single one of us because in that environment we are free to be ourselves, free to innovate, free to speak up and are likely to be more effective,” said Michelle Penelope King, gender diversity expert.

Speaking up about racial bias was also emphasized. The speakers discussed how racial differences in the workplace have been affected in light of George Floyd’s murder. The speakers also shared ways their companies can become educated on racial inclusion via free D&I platforms and resources. For example, they can use the software Textio, which proofreads job descriptions and helps de-bias language to the point of changing words and suggesting different verbiage.

“I always say: ‘If we can name it, we can change it.’ The other side of it is, ‘If you don’t name it, you won’t change it.’ We have to talk about racism in the workplace if we have any hope of addressing racism in the workplace,” said Amber Hikes, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer at ACLU.

While engaging in this conversation on racism, the speakers also shared their personal experiences of inequity and its influence on human beings and companies alike. They discussed the responsibilities of corporations to provide and integrate D&I into their programs, defining what is unhealthy D&I and how it functions in corporations.

“Diversity and inclusion can actually make a difference between your future viability and the viability of the organization you are a part of. If we don’t introduce it, then we are choosing not to pivot, not to mirror and reflect a very changing world,” said Jennifer Brown, founder and CEO of Jennifer Brown Consulting.

The event ended with announcing the 2022 forum, which will gather over 100 speakers, introduce three more panel discussions, increase the attendee count, and create new trends in the field of D&I. The next Global Inclusion Online Forum will also become a platform for promoting diversity and inclusion, sharing valuable content with those researching ways to make their businesses more inclusive.

CFC Big Ideas, the organizer of the event, is an international strategic communications consultancy headquartered in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. Established in 2002, the company has made its name by implementing BIG IDEA international projects. CFC’s portfolio includes public initiatives executed on the sidelines of the Annual Meeting in Davos, G20 Summit in Argentina, the UN General Assembly, and other international initiatives.

For any additional information, please contact Anna Krys, head of Diversity & Inclusion Practice at CFC Big Ideas via support@inclusionforum.global.

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