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This customizable diversity and inclusion series is designed for any business or organization that wants to go beyond stereotypes and biases and identify tools that leaders, managers and employees may use to achieve greater inclusion and cooperation in the workplace.

The program features Oklahoma State University faculty who will explore the ongoing challenge of constructing inclusive workplaces. We focus specifically on fundamental psychological processes of unconscious bias, as well as how it gives rise to behavioral microaggressions (alienating acts of subtle bias) that further encourages dissension. The goal of the Diversity and Inclusion Series is to identify tools to achieve greater inclusion and cooperation in our workplaces.

Learn how to schedule the online Diversity & Inclusion Series at your organization by contacting the Center for Executive and Professional Development.


Registration Information:

This series can be offered on-site in-person at your organization or virtually and is adaptable in length, ranging from one to four hours.

Participants can receive CPE and/or CEU credits for sessions. Number of hours will depend on program length.


  • Agenda

    Barriers to Inclusion: Unconscious Bias, Microaggressions & Polarized Positions

    Alexis Smith Washington, Ph.D.

    Today’s workplace is awash with common platitudes and pep-talks: “Be your best self;” “Bring your whole self to work;” “Bring the best out of others.” These suggestions, fueled by a focus on authentic, conscious and engaged leadership development, are well-intended but come during an age of nationwide ideological and political turmoil. As a result, many workplaces become fraught with deepening interpersonal tensions as well-intended leaders struggle to inspire greatness from their followers. Without tools to acknowledge and address people’s deep-level diversity (differences of thought, values and ideology), many leaders will continue to spin their wheels attempting to forge unity from division.


    The purpose of this program is to give language to the underpinnings of these divisions. Research in management science (psychology, organizational behavior and behavioral economics) have long recognized the processes underlying our divided state. In this workshop, we will explore this body of knowledge in order to apply this research to the ongoing challenge of constructing an inclusive workplace. We focus specifically on fundamental psychological processes of unconscious bias, as well as how they give rise to behavioral microaggressions (alienating acts of subtle bias) and further entrench polarized factions among groups of people. Our goal is to name these processes and identify the tools that leaders, managers and individuals may use to overcome these many automatic processes to achieve greater inclusion and cooperation in their workplaces.


    Authentic Leadership

    Abbey Davis, MBA

    How can we cultivate trust in our teams? How can we better connect and respect each other’s perspectives? These questions extend beyond the workplace. As a society, we need to cultivate more authentic relationships with our colleagues, our friends, our family, our community and ourselves. Authentic leadership is a concept that focuses on self-awareness, building trusting relationships, facilitating open and unbiased dialogues and decision making, and practicing personal values through action.


    In order to accept and respect values and perspectives of others, we need to first understand our own. Sometimes this means leaning into difficult situations, even when there is an easier way out. In this workshop we will focus on the components of Authentic Leadership and how this leadership philosophy is more important now than ever before. This includes identifying and living our values, and determining how we can set ourselves up to make better decisions under pressure. Participants will take away a strong understanding of Authentic Leadership and tangible first steps to creating more meaningful daily connections with their team, customers and community.


    Crucial Communications

    Bryan Edwards, Ph.D.

    We are in the middle of a global movement to address racism and racial injustice. Leaders are looking for ways to ensure that policies, procedures and the company climate are fair and inclusive. There are specific conversational skills that can help to accomplish these objectives. Built upon years of managerial research, this program about crucial conversations can help you hold others accountable in a respectful way, create safe patterns of interactions among colleagues and identify and manage biased communications at work. Many conversations at work are awkward or painful because emotions are involved, the stakes are high and people have different opinions and these can be exacerbated in a climate of bias, discrimination or injustice.


    This seminar will advise business owners, executives and managers about how to communicate more effectively and create an equitable and fair climate at work. With better communications you will become a more effective and equitable leader and thereby positively impact the bottom line of your business. You also will gain knowledge regarding your own style under stress.

    Discrimination Prevention

    Griffin Pivateau, J.D.

    Workplace harassment is about more than sexual harassment. Harassment includes any unwelcome or offensive conduct based on a protected characteristic: sex (including sexual orientation, pregnancy and gender identity), race, color, national origin, religion, age and disability. Employers have a legal obligation to maintain a workplace that is free of harassment. In this session, we will address strategies to reduce an employer’s exposure to claims and lawsuits.


    We will focus on three steps that every employer must take to minimize the possibility of an adverse judgment. Participants will also receive guidance on the dangers of retaliation. Almost half of all EEOC claims filed in recent years alleged retaliation. Preventing workplace harassment is not just good business, it’s the law.

    Building Connections and Getting Curious through Mindfulness

    Abbey Davis, MBA

    This is not your typical diversity and inclusion workshop. We will not focus on compliance or policy. We will not focus on discrimination and harassment. This workshop is designed to help us become more aware of our values, thoughts and feelings through mindfulness. This process allows us to learn how to accept ourselves free of judgment, so that we can accept others free of judgment. We will spend a considerable amount of time discussing how to stay present and curious with others. We will learn some practical tips and tricks to become better conversationalists so that we can connect with others on a much deeper level.


    The goal of this workshop is to help us get curious with our own thoughts, so that we can better connect and understand the perspectives of others. Participants will walk away knowing more about how mindful they are today, and how they can become more mindful tomorrow so we can all enjoy more meaningful connections and accepting workplaces. Participants will learn the basics of mindfulness and how to become better conversationalists. We will learn about many resources and tools that participants can engage with after this workshop to continue their journey to a more mindful life rich with human connection.

    Wake Up To Unconscious Bias: The Emotionally Intelligent Leader’s Guide To Inclusion

    Alexis Smith Washington, Ph.D.

    Inclusive leadership is open, accessible and available, which invites followers to bring their full selves to work. This means that inclusive leaders have learned about their own and others’ unconscious biases, as well as the subtle and overt ways such biases can be built into personnel policies and practices in the workplace. However, to truly wake up to the unconscious biases that frequently prevent truly inclusive leadership and workplaces, leaders should develop and use critical emotional intelligence competencies (e.g., self-awareness, empathy and perspective-taking).


    In this session, we will uncover the emotional intelligence underpinnings of inclusive leadership and several methods that leaders can use to overcome the attitudes, blind spots and roadblocks that they stumble into when they approach the world on autopilot. We will explore the body of knowledge on organizational behavior to examine everyday tools that can unlock a leaders’ potential to be self-aware, to be mindful of their biases and to engage their peers, clients and others with eyes wide open.


  • Presenters

    Abbey Davis, MBA and Ph.D. Candidate, Assistant Professor of Professional Practice and Eastin Fellow in the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University. Before joining OSU, Abbey worked as a fulltime corporate HR professional specializing in the areas of talent development, organizational development, performance management and compensation. She has supported internal business clients with these specializations in both energy and manufacturing industries. Abbey received her bachelor’s degree in human resources and MBA from OSU. In 2016, Abbey was recognized as an Outstanding Young Alumni for the Spears School of Business.

    Bryan Edwards, Ph.D., is the Joe Synar Chair and Professor of Management in the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University. Bryan is an expert in selection, training, performance management, leadership, organizational development and team effectiveness. He earned his Ph.D. in industrial/organizational (I/O) psychology from Texas A&M University and is an active member of the Academy of Management, the Society for Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology and the Society for Human Resource Management.

    Griffin Pivateau, J.D., is associate professor of legal studies and Puterbaugh Professor of Legal Studies and Ethics in Business in the Spears School of Business. His research explores employment law and its impact on the business environment. His work addresses issues of employee mobility, discrimination and dispute resolution. Numerous legal treatises and journal articles, as well as state and federal courts, have cited his research.

    Alexis Smith Washington, Ph.D., is the Spears School of Business senior inclusion officer, associate professor of management and William S. Spears Chair of Business Administration. Alexis received her doctorate in organizational behavior at the A. B. Freeman School of Business, Tulane University, and her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Rice University. Her research focuses on areas spanning workplace issues such as gender and diversity, as well as bias and discrimination. Currently, Alexis is working on projects that examine the impact of social identities, such as gender, race and sexual orientation, on the ways individuals manage their professional image at work, as well as organizational factors that facilitate the inclusion and advancement of underrepresented minorities.

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