calFive Saint Mary’s undergrads from the Business Club attended the California Diversity and Leadership Conference in Anaheim for the first time this summer, learning about the glass ceiling, the lack of multicultural leaders, and how minorities and women can have a greater influence in the workplace.

“This event speaks to many of the values we promote at Saint Mary’s,” said Professor Nancy Lam, who helped organize the visit. “Diversity, inclusion, respect—these are Lasallian principles. It’s valuable to expose our students to business leaders that respect and celebrate these ideals.”

With an "imagine inclusion" theme, the conference included keynote speeches by veteran democratic political strategist Donna Brazile and actor Tony Plana, who covered emotional intelligence, building cultural competencies, best practices for workplace disabilities, and understanding cultural biases and how to overcome them. The annual two-day conference celebrates differences within business communities and aims to educate and create dialogue on diversity and inclusion.

fernandez“I thought it was a great conference,” said Ricardo Fernandez-Rios, vice president of the Business Club, and one of five students who made the trip. “I definitely think it’s something we should continue to do in the future.”

Not only were students exposed to thoughtful discussion, there were also great opportunities for networking. “I didn’t realize that so many conference attendees were from local businesses in the Bay Area,” Fernandez-Rios said. “I was able to make contacts and set up meetings.”

The California Diversity and Leadership Conference also hosted an award ceremony for multicultural leadership and honored those named to their "Most Powerful and Influential Women" list.

“Having SEBA students attend conferences like these is extremely valuable,” said Lam. “It teaches them leadership techniques from professionals and encourages multicultural inclusion."

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