SAN DIEGO — The second annual Society for Human Resource Management conference on diversity, equity and inclusion comes to a close, but the ideas exchanged will likely live on. I attended sessions unpacking the challenges faced by women forging paths in male-dominated sectors, on talent navigating ableist workplaces and a careless world, and on the racial trauma gnawing on Black and brown workers’ well-being.
While the degrees of conference room fullness varied — from standing room only on the DEI focus du jour to notably empty chairs on less buzzy, more uncomfortable topics — every audience was fully engaged. I watched dozens of people diligently scrawl or type notes, nudge their co-workers and glance knowingly at new friends. People laughed, groaned, teared up and in some instances, even gave standing ovations.
As someone who investigates failures of psychological safety — from performative allyship flops to U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission suits — it was heartening to see the enthusiasm and hear the rekindled convictions of so many HR practitioners.