Crain's Detroit Business' Ron Fournier served as the moderator on Thursday, September 7, 2017 for a panel at Connecting Cultures to Business II.
Panel included representatives of four different generations and backgrounds:
Peter Ventura, Principal Associates
Kellen Winslow Sr., Madonna University
Martin Manna, Chaldean American Chamber
Van Nguyen, Beaumont Health Foundation
Ron Fournier's Opening Thoughts
Peter Ventura: Bridging the Generation Gap
Martin Manna: How To Improve Inclusion
Kellen Winslow, Sr: Many Cultures
Van Nguyen: Two Types of Millennials
Cultures luncheon in Livonia talks generational, racial diversity
David Veselenak, hometownlife.comPublished 7:18 a.m. ET Sept. 9, 2017When writing a book several years ago with several colleagues, Ron Fournier realized quickly he needed to pay more attention to those in the so-called "millennial" generation.
Working with students at Harvard University back in 2005, Fournier, the editor and publisher of Crain's Detroit Business, said Thursday afternoon it was clear millennials — those born in the 1980s and into the early 2000s — would play a huge factor in shaping the world.
"We really had to understand them if we want to understand where the future of politics were going, where the future of business is going," he said. "We were surrounded by the future."
Fournier served as the moderator Thursday at Schoolcraft College for a panel discussion hosted by the Livonia Chamber of Commerce entitled "Connecting Cultures to Business," a discussion focused on working among various generations and cultures in the workplace.
The event features speakers of varying ages and backgrounds, including one from each of four different generations, including:
Peter Ventura, the CEO of Principal Associates and a Livonia planning commissioner
Kellen Winslow Sr., assistant to the president for community relations at Madonna University and a National Football League Hall-of-Famer
Martin Manna, the president of the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce as well as the Chaldean Community Foundation
Van Nguyen, director of trustee development for the Beaumont Health Foundation and former executive director of the Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce
Ventura, a member of the "silent generation," those born right before World War II, said the phrase "multiculturalism" is something he's experienced through his entire life.
He said it can be a misconception that those in his age and demographic don't see the world as a multicultural place.
"When I grew up here in Livonia a long time ago, all of my classmates and my friends, we used to say, were other nationalities. We didn't say anything about race," he said. "We all talked about nationalities, where we were from.
"We lived a multicultural life."
Winslow, a baby boomer, said he too has seen a wide range of cultures in his life, going from a high school where a majority of students were black to another school that was majority white to dealing with the cultural factions within athletics.
He said he agreed with how Ventura said he grew up in that he was told to always be respectful of others' way of life, even if it is different.
"I was taught the same way: let people be people. Don't judge people. Don't do things to hurt other people. Be respectful," he said. "Those are the things I grew up with, so I can understand exactly what he's talking about."
Changes in perception
Manna said Chaldean people are typically stereotyped as just owners of party stores, something that he and others are working on changing when it comes to perception.
Today, Chaldeans are business owners of various trades, including hotels and restaurants, and the perception is one that continues to change, Manna said.
"It's often that, Chaldeans, they're just party store owners and immigrants in general who don't pay taxes," he said. "People in general have a hard time understanding the pathway of how this community came to America."
When it came to Asian Americans, Nguyen said, the struggle of dealing with the "model minority" image can be frustrating in business.
That change is being seen especially on the coasts of the country, with Nguyen saying it hopefully continues to change perceptions in business will arrive in the Midwest as well.
"Here, we're not quite seeing it as much," she said. "But I'm sure in due time, the misconception of us being 'model minorities' and being quiet and prime and proper will probably go down a little bit."