Equity and Inclusion buy-in and regional accountability needed at all levels

Greater Cleveland Partnership Diversity Focus Group finds need — and desire — for change

“Listening to the community regarding E&I issues was paramount to understanding the real challenges that affect our region,” said Blakemore. “Participants included equity and inclusion professionals, entrepreneurs and employees from company resource groups.”

The diverse respondents shared thoughts on what could work better in our region regarding E&I, and specific steps to make our region more inclusive. The results will be used to shape GCP’s Inclusive Opportunity strategies.

Top level findings:

What could work better in our region re: E&I efforts?

  1. Increase in revenue, capital and infrastructure for MBEs
  2. Increased E&I results (MBEs and middle/high wage positions)
  3. Desire for regional leadership to be full diversity partners
  4. Difficult to do business in Cleveland (i.e., slow internal processes for supplier diversity)

Specific Steps to make our region more inclusive?

a. Buy-in and regional accountability for E&I at all levels

b. Hiring Black and Brown leaders in our region for senior-level positions

c. Understanding the needs and interests of the talent we are trying to attract

“We learned from the participants what is working and not working in our region around equity and inclusion, and what next steps we should be taking. I have been identifying common themes learned from my listening tour, including the focus group,” said Blakemore. “We will use these findings to shape how, in 2023, we will execute on our three inclusive strategies: scaling minority business owners; diversifying hiring in middle and high wage positions; and increasing digital equity.

This work will be done by a consensus of CEOs in the region and by increasing the visibility of minority business owners and professionals.

One of those CEOs is Larry Fulton, president of LEFCO Worthington, who participated in the focus group.

“Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is important because it promotes fairness and equal opportunities for everyone. It’s particularly important for Cleveland, which has a majority diverse population,” said Fulton. “Ensuring that all members of the community have equal access to the abundant and available resources and opportunities throughout Northeast Ohio can help address historical and systemic inequalities, and can also lead to a more vibrant and prosperous region for all. Obviously, by creating a more inclusive and welcoming community, we will attract and retain talented individuals and businesses, and promote social cohesion for the entire region.”

Said Blakemore: “The Diversity Focus Group gave us an opportunity to examine the concerns around equity and inclusion in our region. The participants were eager to share and eager to continue the equity and inclusion dialogue throughout the year. We are using their feedback to make more strides in our community.”


Equity & Inclusion — Greater Cleveland Partnership

Greater Cleveland Partnership’s All In vision for a Great Region on a Great Lake has five key priorities: Dynamic Business, Abundant Talent, Inclusive Opportunity, Appealing Community and Business Confidence. All of our work ties back to these values. This story relates to Inclusive Opportunity.


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