Session 6: Seize the Courage to Talk About Race

We do not have productive conversations about race because many of us lack the skill and competency to do so effectively.  Many of us have too little knowledge or understanding of the history and context of race and racial inequity in America.  A prerequisite to effectively discussing race is a broad and deep understanding of its structure in America—socially, economically, in the workplace. This session will provide a glimpse of the complexities of race and racial inequities and how the lack of true understanding continues to perpetuate the status quo. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about and practice skills for having bold, inclusive conversations, and what steps we can take together to counter racial inequities, especially as they manifest in the workplace. 


Learning Objectives: By the end of the session, participants will be able to:

  • Better understand the complexities and context for racial inequities (social, economic, educational, political) in the United States

  • Recognize how racial inequities manifest inside companies and organizations

  • Implement skills and abilities to have bold, inclusive conversations about race

  • Identify steps individuals and leaders can take to positively influence racial equity in the workplace

Date:  October 30, 2017

Time:  8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (continental breakfast served at 7:45 am)

Location: Nordstrom Flagship Store, Seattle

                  1617 6th Avenue

                  5th Floor, J.W. Nordstrom Meeting Room

Presenter: Mary-Frances Winters

Mary-Frances Winters is president and founder of The Winters Group, Inc. Prior to founding The Winters Group in 1984, she was affirmative action officer and senior market analyst at Eastman Kodak Company, where she worked for 11 years. Among her many awards and distinctions, she was named a diversity pioneer by Profiles in Diversity Journal in August 2007 and received the Winds of Change Award from the Forum on Workplace Inclusion in 2016. Ms. Winters was also featured in Forbes’ June 2016 publication, which honored some of the DC Metro area’s most powerful women.

A life member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Rochester, Ms. Winters has served on the boards of the Greater Rochester Metro Chamber of Commerce, The United Way of Greater Rochester and the National Board of the Girl Scouts of the USA.  She has served as a mentor for the Emerging Leaders Program Sponsored by the Centers for Leadership and Public Affairs at Duke University and the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Ms. Winters is a frequent contributor to the editorial page of the local newspaper and USA Today’s Forum column on workplace and diversity related issues. She has been published in the International Personnel Management Association Newsletter, Profiles in Diversity Journal, DiversityInc Magazine, Executive Excellence Magazine, Society of Human Resource Management’s Mosaics Newsletter, The EMA Reporter and has written monographs on "Philanthropy Among People of Color" for the Council on Foundations in Washington, DC.

She is the author of four books: We Can’t Talk about That at Work!: How to Talk about Race, Religion, Politics, and Other Polarizing Topics (2017); Only Wet Babies Like Change: Workplace Wisdom for Baby Boomers; Inclusion Starts With “I”; and CEO’s Who Get It: Diversity Leadership from the Heart and Soul.  Ms. Winters also authored a chapter in the book Diversity at Work: The Practice of Inclusion (2014).

Ms. Winters is a “provocateur”, someone who provokes conversation and encourages dialogues – she is not afraid to have the tough conversations!

A qualified Intercultural Development Inventory® (IDI®) administrator, Winters also serves as senior facilitator for IDI® qualifying seminars.

She is a graduate of the University of Rochester with undergraduate degrees in English and Psychology, and a master’s degree in business administration from the William E. Simon Executive Development Program. She received an honorary doctorate from Roberts Wesleyan College in 1997.

NWDLS is Managed by:  The Institute for Sustainable Diversity and Inclusion (ISDI)


ISDI is a non-profit organization established for the purpose of educating, supporting and collaborating with key stakeholders on ways to leverage differences and practice inclusion to enhance individual and organizational success.  


ISDI was founded in 2015 and assumed the management of the Northwest Diversity Learning Series in 2016, formerly managed by Archbright. Barbara Deane, the original NW Series co-founder, and Effenus Henderson, retired Chief Diversity Officer, Weyerhaeuser are the co-founders and directors of the Institute.  This was the 19th year of the NWDLS!


JOIN US in 2018 as ISDI celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the NW Diversity Learning Series:


Session 1Polarities and Resistance: Creating an Inclusive and Sustainable Approach to Change . Tuesday, January 23