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Workplace Diversity Issues Will Be Subject of Nov. 4 Conference in Memphis
For release: Oct. 20, 2005
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A comprehensive, national-level Conference on "Diversity in the Workplace" will be held Nov. 4, 2005, in Memphis, Tenn. The conference is sponsored jointly by Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC, and the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.

The invitation-only event will feature as keynote speaker the Honorable Naomi C. Earp, vice chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Also on the dais will be the Honorable Tu Pham, U. S. Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court in Memphis, as well as high-level representatives from Sara Lee Foods, FedEx and International Paper.

The complimentary, executive-level conference will convene at the Shelby Ballroom in the Holiday Inn on the University of Memphis campus. There will be five separate panels and a keynote luncheon address. Guest list participants include an array of executive-level officers and decision-makers from throughout the Mid-South.

Some subjects to be discussed include: how diversity differs from affirmative action, designing a meaningful policy and plan, its role in employment sectors, building a business case for diversity and sharing best practices.

"Our community is remarkably diverse and will grow even more so as time passes," said Herman Morris, Baker Donelson shareholder, who serves as a co-chair of the conference. "Ensuring diversity in the workplace is essential to securing the most productive and inclusive results attainable amid a culture founded upon the doctrine of equality and opportunity."

Placing this value prominently in hiring and decision-making helps bring more creative ideas to the table and helps to sustain companies and organizations for the future, he added.

"The dynamic demographics of our local and national communities that reflect the diversity of our people must be taken into account by public and private enterprise in order to secure our nation's multi-cultural treasure and its economic future," said Maurice Wexler, also a shareholder with Baker Donelson and an event co-chair. "Our diversity conference will discuss these issues and other topics of great local and national consequence."

The importance of the conference topic was also addressed by James R. Smoot, dean and professor of law at the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law and a member of the conference panel. "Our law school's historic concerns about maintaining a properly diverse student body have been supplemented more recently by the increasing attention we have been paying to the equally important matter of workplace diversity in a more traditional sense:  in our faculty and administrative staff," said Smoot.  "Diversity in our teaching and administrative workforce is not only a matter of simple justice. Experience has shown that it also makes a significant contribution to the success of the educational mission by creating the appropriate environment for providing the quality legal education for our increasingly diverse law student population that we strive always to offer."

Supporting companies for the event include International Paper and Hilton Hotels Corp.

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