The Beacon Network Forums provide an opportunity for professionals interested in Diversity & Inclusion to learn from a wide array of thought leaders on various Diversity & Inclusion topics. We invite you click on the titles below to view a recap of all of our forums.

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146We had a fantastic forum led and facilitated by Gina Duncan on Transgender Dynamics in the Workplace.   leaders today.

Gina shared a wealth of information on the topic.  She began with her personal story about her life before compared to her life as a transgender woman today.  She said that her transition was a matter of survival, that she didn’t just decide to become a woman, but she realized that she was dying pretending to be a man and she wanted to live.

The forum presentation was organized as follows:

  • Why Is This Education Important for Your Company
  • Understanding Gender Identity and Expression
  • Transitioning Protocols for the Workplace
  • Successful Components of Transitioning
  • Moving Forward

Gina indicated that this education is important for your company’s reputation and that it’s vital to a company’s sustainability and relevance.  She also explained the difference between gender identity and gender expression.  She talked about “The Genderbread Person” model that explains the differences of gender identity, gender expression, biological sex and sexual orientation.  In addition she shared that “transgender” is used as an umbrella term to describe the diverse spectrum of gender identities that exist including individuals  who consider themselves non-binary, gender-queer, or gender non-conforming.  She also explained additional definitions of transgender, cross dresser, drag queen, transvestite, gender neutral means and the difference between a Trans Man (female to male) and a Trans Woman (mle to female).  Gina spoke about terms to avoid, which include:  transgendered (past tense), tansgeners, transgenderism or transvestite.  Transgender or transgender individual, trans man, trans woman, trans population are more widely accepted inclusive terms.

She explained what it means to transition and provided a workplace transition timeline as an example.  In addition, she shared information about the benefits and risks of coming out in the workplace.  Lastly, she closed by sharing some best practices that an organization can do to ensure inclusiveness for the transgender employee and key components of successful transitioning.

If you would like to receive a copy of her presentation and the executive summary of Injustice at Every Turn (A report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey), please email

goodmanDr. Neal Goodman, President and CEO of Global Dynamics, Inc. Dr. Goodman shared his insight in relation to developing a global mindset. He shared, “Diversity is reality, inclusion is a choice.” When we think about our geographically dispersed workforce, diversity is the reality today. By being culturally competent, we are able to see the same situation from multiple perspectives, simultaneously. The Harvard Business Review recently stated that a global mindset and cultural intelligence is the #1 important skill for leaders today.

All areas of the organization need cultural competence, from Marketing to Supply Chain, from Public Relations to Technology and everything in between. Everyone from the top of the organization chart to the receptionist needs cultural competence. If the receptionist insults a potential customer when they walk in the door, simply by not understanding the importance of how to pronounce the person’s name, it can cost the organization money today and future business. Curriculum that is relevant to building the organization’s cultural competence touches on topics such as global team building, multicultural sales, marketing and branding, expat training and support, and virtual workforce effectiveness, just to name a few.

Each culture has their own personality, understanding that personality is key. Dr. Goodman shared an overview of his tool, “Culture Wise.” An example of how different personalities plays out is illustrated in two stories:

  • Many people are familiar with the story of the little train that could… it demonstrates the U.S. characteristic of individuality by its mantra, “I think I can, I think I can…”
  • In contrast Dr Goodman shared a story from China that defines the collective nature of the culture.  A father on his deathbed gives one son a set of chopsticks and asks him to break them, and they break easily. He gives another son ten sets and asks him to break them and it is very hard, illustrating it is easier to “Win together, than to lose apart.”

agingValerie Chestnut, Director of Community Relations with Visiting Angels Homecare led us in both an informative and entertaining discussion around the topic Aging Diversity: Through the Eyes of a Senior. When Valerie told us the session was going to be fun and entertaining, and would probably involve lots of laughter, we weren’t sure how, but she was right! Over 30 participants in the room not only learned valuable insights on the topic but also laughed their way through various interactive group exercises designed to build greater understanding, sensitivity and empathy toward seniors and aging adults. Valerie taught us about common ways that our business communications may be misunderstood or not received by older adults and taught us communication techniques that can help our organizations convey information effectively both in writing and through spoken words to be more inclusive of seniors and more responsive to their needs.

Why should this matter to your organization? Between 2010 and 2030, “Baby Boomers” will enter the over age 65 cohort, resulting in nearly 20% of Americans being over age 65.  This represents a 100% increase over 30 years, compared to a 30% growth in the total population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the United States has an aging population. In 2012, individuals over the age of 65 made up 13.7% of the U.S. population and 18.2% of Florida’s state population; that’s over 4.3 million people nationwide and over 3.5 million in Florida alone! In addition, baby boomers are the largest consumer group in America. So it’s clear that no matter your industry, this will impact your organization through both your employees and your customers. If you’d like more information about Visiting Angels or think you may like them to do a presentation for your organization, please visit or contact Mimi Reggentin at

David Hunt, JDAt this highly informative and interactive forum, David discussed the three demographic megatrends:  Race and Ethnicity, Immigration Numbers and Patterns, and Immigrants bringing new cultural influences.  These megatrends are the reason why diversity is a growing management competency.  Managers need to have new skills and be more culturally competent due to the changing demographics of our workforce.  In order for an individual to be a culturally competent professional, the following skills are needed:

  • One must  be able to establish trust/credibility across cultures
  • Be culturally inquisitive
  • Know and manage own biases
  • Be capable of perspective shifting
  • Be adaptable/flexible, able to “code-shift”
  • Understand – Cross-cultural communication, conflict resolution, negotiation and team building

Information about Project Implicit was shared  Attendees were also able to take the Intercultural Assessment Inventory and understand more about their preferred approach or style for resolving conflict.  By knowing more about your own preferred conflict style can help you better:

  • Resolve disagreements with people who approach conflict differently from you
  • Manage the stress and anxiety present in conflict situations
  • More accurately interpreter the statements and action of the other party
  • More effectively communicate your goals and interests to others
  • Mediate disputes

The four conflict styles were discussed:  Discussion, Engagement, Accommodation and Dynamic.  Based on their score, attendees were able to determine their own style and understand the strengths and weaknesses of each style.  Examples of cultural patterns across conflict styles were also shared. For example,, United States and Canada are Discussion style countries verses Arab/Middle Eastern countries such as Kuwait, Egypt, Saudi Arabia were more Dynamic in style when dealing with conflict.

If you’d like more information about David Hunt and Critical Measures, please visit