The first in a series on the topic of diversity and inclusion

The number one concern of businesses locally and nationally is workforce; there is a constant demand for qualified individuals to take on an ever changing skill set. As we work collectively in this region, through Q2030, to leverage and align resources in a movement to create more jobs, investment, and economic opportunity for all, workforce is a critical part of this equation.

Several key strategies to address the challenge of workforce are underway through Q2030, from ensuring that our children our prepared for school, putting paths in place to increase the number of people with post-secondary education, and developing a more diverse and inclusive community where all of our residents feel welcome and are equipped to play an active role in our community. These activities all develop a workforce pipeline.

Last week four Quad Cities Chamber staff members attended the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Diversity and Inclusion conference to hear from world-renowned leaders in the realm of diversity and inclusion, and bring best practices back to the Quad Cities.

Why is diversity and inclusion so important? Consider that by 2020, more than half of U.S. children will be part of what is today considered a minority group; by 2044, the Census Bureau predicts that no one race or ethnic group will make up a majority. These statistics account only for ethnic background, but true diversity and inclusion addresses all of the individual characteristics that make up an individual. As we learned at the conference, diversity represents our uniqueness and what we bring to the table, and inclusion is the opportunity to participate and feel belonging and appreciated. As the makeup of our workforce continues to evolve, the ability of employers to host a culture that embodies the nature of diversity and inclusion will be the most successful.

In fact, according to Alan Richter, PhD, and owner of QED Consulting, organizations that effectively harness diversity experience an improved ability to recruit and retain talent as well as improved leadership effectiveness. They also experience higher creativity, enhanced problem solving, and increased productivity.

Silicon Valley is a great proving ground for this assertion. Industry-accepted measures of diversity are the Gay index, the Bohemian index – or percentage of people who make a living off of the arts, the percentage of foreign born nationals and the degree of racial integration. The Silicon Valley area has a higher than average degree of each of these areas as well as perhaps the highest degree of innovation in the world.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we continue to share more takeaways on the diversity and inclusion front, but for now take a look at this video on how the simple step of taking the time to recognize other perspectives – an important first step in cultural competency – can make all the difference. 

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