Track I: Increasing Opportunities for Inclusion in Wisconsin’s Workforce

November 12-13, 2020

A globalized marketplace, increasing automation, pressure for rapidly interchangeable work skills, an inconsistent regulatory climate and uncertainty about how to design educational systems to bring them up-to-date with the ways we build knowledge and process information in the context of constantly changing technology are a part of what makes today’s working environment challenging for employers and employees alike.The barriers are significant and can be structural, including historically low wages, insufficient funding for alternative development strategies, lack of affordable education, taxpayer resistance, and lack of inter-agency collaboration.

Some barriers are attributable to the environment, such as discrimination, stereotyping, persistent poverty and lack of opportunity. Still other barriers boil down to inadequate opportunities and resources for career planning and job skill development. The pervasiveness of such barriers threatens the welfare of potential workers, blocks opportunities to develop individual skills and breeds hopelessness.

Session Schedule


*Date *Time Start *Time End Session Number *Session Title Description  Speakers 
Thursday, November 12 10:30 AM 12:30 PM 1 Assessing Organizational Racism and Advocating for Anti-Racist Work Spaces -2 Hour Session Creating and supporting teams with diverse skills, knowledge, and experiences is essential to developing vibrant workplaces where we value people and leverage their talents. Yet, workplaces persist where racism continues to disrupt employee engagement, belonging, collaboration, innovation and productivity. With time and intention, organizations, like individuals, can evolve to become anti-racist. In this session, we'll explore evaluative tools to determine how racism shows up in your organization. From decision-making and budgeting to accountability and power, you’ll have a chance to think about your work environment and learn ways to advocate for the change necessary to transform individuals, teams, and organizations. Attendees will be able to identify areas for growth with their own organization and leave prepared to develop strategic plans to move from their current state to an anti-racist, inclusive organization. Deborah A Biddle, The People Company LLC, Founder and Chief Consultant 
Thursday, November 12 10:30 AM 11:30 AM 2 Creating a Supportive and Inclusive Workplace with Mental Health Conditions during a Pandemic The lesser known labor problem facing many employers during this pandemic is the reality of “quit threat” – the possibility of employees resigning or not returning to work due to COVID-19-related concerns.  Fear, anxiety and legitimate medical issues have everybody in a “wait and see” mode, even as organizations scramble to solidify staffing plans. At the heart of these concerns is engagement with employees, specifically in the area of wellness.  And we’re not talking about Fit Bits and walking programs – true wellness engagement in this pandemic age begins with recognizing the mental health toll and developing a plan of action to set employees’ minds at ease.  Please join us for a discussion on how to address your employees’ mental health concerns while meeting the operational and staffing needs of the organization.  Specifically, we'll discuss: accommodating employees with mental health conditions; addressing staff anxiety and fear; developing special pandemic-related wellness programming; and equipping managers to identify mental health concerns and support employees. Bret McKitrick, JD, USA Insurance Services, SVP, Senior Compliance and Workplace Consultant
Thursday, November 12 10:30 AM 11:30 AM 3 Overcoming Barriers for Employing Those with Disabilities Mallory will share strategies to collaborate with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and area Employment Service Agencies such as VaryAbility to recruit and retain individuals with disabilities. These recruitment strategies include job customization, temporary work experiences, job shadowing, and building relationships with Employment Service Agencies. Whether you are a manager, HR representative, or coworker, you will learn strategies to support these employees by using accommodations, job aides, and collaborating with a job coach. Attendees will also have a better understanding of the role of an employment consultant and job coach. Mallory Cornelius, VaryAbility, President/Employment Consultant
Thursday, November 12 1:45 PM 2:45 PM 4 Got Equity? Equal opportunity and inclusive practices are common components of strategic plans. What is often lacking is a focus on equity. The difference is based on the premise of equity vs. equality. Equal opportunity and inclusion statements focus on enhancing equality of opportunity, recruiting minorities and engaging in other non-discriminatory practices. Adopting an equity approach means organizations are working to value the worth of their workforce and customer base. Thus, removing barriers to success and impacting the overall welfare of everyone involved. Diversity and equity efforts are important because they are fundamental to driving quality and excellence on campus. Employees at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and The Privilege Institute will share examples of how they have created and/or facilitated holistic equity approaches that could be adopted by other organizations. Mohammed I.T. Bey, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Director, Diversity & Inclusion; Vickie Lock, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Dean, Student Success;  Jenni Oliver, The Privilege Institute, Director, Institute Operations and Social Equity Advancement
Thursday, November 12 1:45 PM 2:45 PM 5 COVERING It has now been many years since the diversity and inclusion revolution swept the corporate world. Today, many Fortune 500 companies have an impressive array of programs focused on the needs of a diverse workforce. Yet reports suggest that full inclusion remains elusive. Why? One potential answer is that these initiatives may not have lived up to the core ideal of inclusion, which is to allow individuals to bring their authentic selves to work. Most inclusion efforts have not explicitly and rigorously addressed the pressure to conform that prevents individuals from realizing that ideal, and the resultant tendency to cover. Learn a behavioral model that leaders can use to mitigate the occurrence and impact of covering – reflect, diagnose, analyze, initiate. Apply these mitigation tactics and strategies to increase cultural dexterity across global, generational and gender-based differences.   Suri Surinder, CTR Factor, Inc., CEO
Thursday, November 12 1:45 PM 2:45 PM 6 TBA    
Friday, November 13 10:45 AM 11:45 AM 7 Using Apprenticeship Programs to Train Inmates  Wisconsin’s Apprenticeship programming is a staple training method in many industries.  Innovative thinking and meeting employer demands is essential to create the workforce needed.  Department of Workforce Development and Department of Corrections are partnering to provide training in essential occupational and pre-apprenticeship skills for the state’s inmate population.  The session will spotlight innovative efforts and success stories in preparing the incarcerated for entry into the workforce. Joshua Johnson, WI Department of Workforce Development, Director Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards; Liz Pusch, WI Department of Workforce Development, Section Chief Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards                                                                                          Moderator: Becky Kikkert, WI Department of Workforce Development, Office of Special Initiatives, Director 
Friday, November 13 10:45 AM 11:45 AM 8 Allyship in the Workplace The focus of this session is to learn about allyship and how we all can grow as allies by educating on how we can best use our voices and influence for marginalized groups.  We will explore how allyship shows up in the workplace and how you can take steps to become an ally or improve your allyship to create real change in your organization. Kate Wesolowski, Associated Bank, Senior Vice President - Talent Acquisition Manager; Callie Davis, Associated Bank, Diversity & Inclusion Talent Specialist
Friday, November 13 10:45 AM 11:45 AM 9 TBA    
Friday, November 13 12:45 PM 1:45 PM 10 Innovative Services Offered by DWD Division of Employment and Training Office of Veteran Services The Office of Veterans Services provides services design to guide veterans with barriers to employment into civilian employment with an income that provides a family sustainable wage.  Gary M. Meyer, DWD DET, Office of Veterans Services; Al Garcia, DWD DET, Office of Veterans Services, Southern Region Supervisor, Office of Veterans Services; Jessica Maple, DWD DET Office of Veteran Service, Northern Region Supervisor
Friday, November 13 12:45 PM 1:45 PM 11 TBA    
Friday, November 13 12:45 PM 1:45 PM 12 Diversity & Inclusion: How to achieve both in your workforce Not sure where to start with diversifying your workforce?  Got the diversity part down, but struggling to create inclusion within the diverse workforce?  Then this session is for you!  Practical tips, strategies, and real life examples will be given from the perspective of an employment specialist and a company that exemplifies true inclusion in the workforce. Redebra Peters, ASPIRO, Inc., Career Consultant/Vocational Specialist; Jon Ledvina, Packer Fastener, Business Liaison