The Institute for Sustainable Diversity and Inclusion (ISDI) manages the NW Diversity Learning Series, comprised of six, bimonthly, half-day morning sessions for employees, managers, leaders and Diversity Champions on current and emerging issues affecting diverse, multicultural work environments.  The Series session topics are framed around building inclusive work environments and providing participants with concepts, tools, and activities that broaden understanding and increase competencies at the individual and group levels.


ISDI is developing a multi-year framework for educating, convening and supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives in the Pacific Northwest Region. 


A benefit to Sponsors and Organizational Subscribers is membership in the NWDLS D&I and HR Leaders Group that meets in a special afternoon session with the morning workshop presenter. 

The following is an overview of the 2019 theme, dates and topics planned for the morning sessions. (Note: The order of topics and/or session dates may change due to presenter availability).


2019 Theme:  When Systems Collide - Be a Pillar for Inclusion and Care


Inside and outside organizations—we are watching systems collide. Systems once assumed to be stable and predictable are no longer, their parts and wholes called into question, challenged, even thrown out. The pace of change is fierce and rapid. In the midst of this chaos, only one-third of all employees are engaged (Gallup, 2017). 



Colliding Systems—Inside & Outside—what do we see?  


A system is an interconnected set of elements that is coherently organized in a way that achieves something—a function or purpose.


Inside, organizational cultures act as a system, and some parts of these cultures, such as dress codes, communication, work design, recognition, and accessibility, discourage employees from bringing their full selves to work resulting in feelings of disrespect, inequitable treatment and not belonging.


Inside, bias creeps into the talent life cycle system (such as selection processes, qualifications, performance reviews, development, career paths) making it difficult for diverse employees to move up and into leadership ranks.


Inside, traditional management systems (hierarchical and siloed) are colliding with emerging employee engagement systems (relational and inclusive relying on trust, networking, collaborating, coaching and mentoring).


Inside, technological advances are challenging traditional work systems pushing for greater work-life integration, such as alternative work schedules, tele-conferencing, flex time, face-time vs. results.


Outside, tension surrounds governance and economic systems where inclusion of more diverse identities and cultural backgrounds is causing uneasiness, fear and a sense of loss among homogenous, white identity groups. 


Outside, systems for communicating information (fact-based and disinformation) have become increasingly polarized resulting in breakdowns of civility and respect, and reliance on stereotyping and “othering” producing increased harassment and fear.


Outside, political leaders are challenging long-standing democratic government systems, mores and principles resulting in more political debate entering the workplace.  


How do we ensure that the values of diversity, equity and inclusion prevail when these systems collide?  How do we maximize the upsides and minimize the downsides for employees, teams and leaders?  What can we do to care for one another and create a greater sense of belonging where everyone feels safe to take risks and strive for innovation?


First, act as a Pillar for Inclusion: A pillar implies strength and reliable support. As a Pillar for Inclusion, we are advocates for change—we challenge inequities in systems, policies, practices, and behaviors. We stand up as role models everyday. People trust us and know they can rely on us.


Second, act as a Pillar of Care: Again, as a pillar, we provide reliable support.  We are committed to caring for others—our teammates, our co-workers, our colleagues, and our leaders. We focus on the things we have in common: the desire to belong, to be treated with respect and fairness, to have our voices heard, to be successful. Think of the power of this duty to care—we advocate for the right for all to thrive, learn and grow. Each one of us makes a commitment to be an ally—to stand in solidarity, especially with those less privileged.


Methodology for 2019 – Applied Improv!


For 2019, we will introduce a new and exciting component of learning: Applied Improv! Although tools and techniques are necessary and helpful components, we believe we can have greater impact with this new addition. Using the games and activities of Applied Improv, we will invite participants to embody the learning of each topic—to act it out, to demonstrate it, to turn it into movement. At each session, we will learn new Improv games and activities—active, interactive, experiential learning—that will help us practice the learning and skills in a new and different way. It’s fun and engaging! Great take-a-ways that participants can use back at work with their teams and in their own lives! 


This is the framework for the 2019 NW Diversity Learning Series. Out of the chaos of colliding systems and unprecedented change, we stand as pillars of inclusion and care. We try out different ways of learning. We work to build inclusive climates where trust grows, civility reigns, relationships flourish, and performance rises! 


“If you have a problem and you can take it out of your head [into your body], you can access intuition [another source of knowledge]!”


“Information is a very weak form of communication.”


“Play the games, and you may find yourself on a trip to the intuitive and perhaps beyond that to the human spirit itself, the oracle.”


—Viola Spolin


Dates and Topics: Click on the topics of interest to learn more information about the session.






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