National Black MBA Association and St. Thomas to host 16th annual Multicultural Forum Feb. 5

The 16th Annual Multicultural Forum, “The Evolution of Diversity … A Changing Mosaic,” will be held Thursday, Feb. 5, 2004, at the Hilton Minneapolis, 1001 Marquette Ave. S.

The forum is hosted by the University of St. Thomas College of Business and the Twin Cities chapter of the National Black MBA Association.

The event began in the 1980s as a two-hour videoconference called the Black Managers’ Forum. It has grown into a full-day conference with more than 700 in attendance. Each year the forum’s two keynote speakers, 30 workshops and vendor fair address issues related to managing work-force diversity.

The forum this year will examine the expanding number of diversity issues, such as employee size, sexual preference and communication style, in light of the original issues that brought about affirmative-action legislation in the 1960s, which focused on race and gender.

The forum is designed for professionals who are responsible for managing work-force diversity within organizations. It is recommended for managers, executives, human resource staff and management consultants, as well as for graduate and undergraduate students planning business careers.

New to the forum this year is a career fair. Company representatives will be on hand to visit with job candidates to discuss employment opportunities. Those interested in visiting the career fair should bring copies of their resume.

The forum’s opening keynote speaker traditionally has been a senior executive from a Twin Cities firm that supports workplace diversity. This year’s opening speaker will be Marilyn Carlson Nelson, chair and chief executive officer of Carlson Companies.

Earlier this year the company won the 2003 Business Ethics Award from the Center for Ethical Business Cultures. According to the center, the award was given for, among other reasons, “the company’s efforts in empowering women, engaging a more diverse work force, and consistently being a great place to work.”

Carlson is one of the largest privately held companies in the United States. It employs more than 190,000 people around the globe, and its brands are present in more than 140 countries.

The closing keynote address will be given by Jane Elliott, a former teacher and award-winning diversity trainer who is known internationally for her “blue eyes-brown eyes” exercise. Participants in the exercise are asked to judge others only on the basis of eye color, an experience that demonstrates prejudice and bigotry. Elliott has received the National Mental Health Association Award for Excellence in Education.

The forum opens with a 7 to 8 a.m. buffet breakfast and concludes at 4 p.m.

Cost of the forum is $125 and includes breakfast, lunch and an afternoon break. A limited number of reduced-fee scholarships are available for employees of nonprofits (501(c)3) only. For more information or to request a registration form, call St. Thomas at (651) 962-4018. Information also is available on the Web at:

http://www.stthomas.edu/cob/multiculturalforum/.

The forum is supported this year by 35 area firms and organizations.