Is equity and inclusion a priority for your business? Is it a practice?
It’s time to assess.
The GCP Equity & Inclusion Organizational Assessment is open for 2023. For the past 20 years, the Greater Cleveland Partnership has reported on the status of diversity and inclusion efforts in our region through data gathering. All Greater Cleveland Partnership member companies and organizations are invited and encouraged to participate in the annual survey.
Why should your business participate? What can you learn? We asked leaders of local organizations who have completed the assessment to share their thoughts.
Greg Harris, President and CEO, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
Why did you choose to complete the assessment?
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has completed the GCP E&I Organization Assessment every year for the past 10 years, since I became CEO. We recognize that GCP E&I Organization Assessment represents global diversity and inclusion benchmarks and best practices. We appreciate that the benchmarks and best practices are truly best in class and are constantly updated to remain timely and relevant. The Assessment provides us with tangible initiatives that can be completed, with actionable insights on how to execute to drive real and meaningful change in our organization. Additionally, we find the Assessment to be a very useful framework to evaluate our work in this area, identify areas of opportunity, and set new goals and priorities for improvement. We actively align our work with the specific areas of opportunity identified on the Assessment.
What did you learn?
One of our key learnings is that we that we can make change if we focus on it and that with key initiatives that we map out with multiple steps, we can achieve them much more quickly when we make them an organizational priority. We were proud to learn that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame actually exceeds the average in every category measured in the Assessment and while we are pleased with this performance, clearly there is always more we can do to improve, so we do.
For example, we are actively working on:
- Advancement and retention
- Responsible sourcing
- Marketing and customer services (reaching and serving our diverse audiences)
What changes or improvements did you make based on the results?
We actively use the Assessment as a road map, identifying work to be done and setting goals for what we want to achieve each year. The initiatives we have implemented are sustainable and ongoing. We have intentionally incorporated them into our culture and everyday operations — we do not simply check a box and move on.
While DEAI has always been important to our organization, once we assigned a passionate, dedicated resource to work across the organization in an expanded role, monitoring our progress and moving us forward, we started to achieve measurable results.
Specific DEAI initiatives for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame include:
- D&I Vision: We made DEAI a strategic organizational goal with its own vision, strategy, and metrics. We established a DEAI committee at the board level and we hold quarterly check-ins in all areas of our DEAI work to ensure we stay on track and meet our goals. We ensure all employees are familiar with our commitment to DEAI as part of our onboarding process.
- D&I Learning and Education: We infused DEAI into our year-round professional development program. We’ve partnered with the Racial Equity Institute to bring to our entire staff and board workshops on systemic nature of racism and bias, and the role we all play as individuals and as a leading community member to DEAI work. We’ve also partnered with the YWCA, both participating in and contributing to their nation-wide annual Racial Justice Challenge, to build healthy social justice habits as a staff around complex topics like disability, housing, and a living wage. In previous years we’ve offered all staff workshops on cultural intelligence, unconscious bias, microaggressions, anti-harassment, ethics, and personal leadership.
- Recruitment, Retention, Development & Advancement: We highlight DEAI early and often. We broaden our reach for recruitment through community partners including the Cuyahoga Board of Developmental Disabilities, the LGBTQ Center of Greater Cleveland, and the Spanish American Committee. Our staff has all undergone hiring training to understand the impact bias can play through the hiring process, and we use approved unbiased interview questions for staff to select from during interviews to ensure as equitable a process as possible. We take the time to develop our staff, and provide the support they need through flexible work schedules and PTO, benefits like mental health support, regular opportunities to share feedback with leadership, and employee forum groups – like Culture Club – to help further develop our employee culture.
To us, GCP is a key partner and an accessible, credible resource that provides one-on-one support, actionable recommendations, valuable resources, community connections, and best practices in this important area.
Ariane Kirkpatrick, AKA Team Owner and President
Why did you choose to complete the assessment?
I think it’s important for everyone, not just the majority companies, to do the assessment – for us to look to see how we’re doing. When we did the assessment the first year, we were failing. It made me reach back out to my project managers as far as what we’re doing, as far as our spend with our vendors, and our spend with our subcontractors, so that we could be more cognitive of what we do – so we could change it.
While I am always speaking about initiatives and change, I thought my team understood that, but it wasn’t happening. The Assessment helped me see this in black and white on paper, and say ‘Hey, we’re not looking good,’ we need to make changes.
The other good thing that came out of it is we hired a Chief Diversity Officer. She works on projects to make sure we offer diversity management services. But her main role is to look at how we look internally. Hiring Aria Johnson, our Chief Diversity Officer, is a direct result of the GCP Assessment.
What changes or improvements have you made based on the results.
Our numbers have improved, by large percentages. In some areas, we were it may have been at 10, 15, 20% in some categories – now we are at 70%. On our workforce on our team, we are probably 80% minority and we might be a little bit more than that in our vendors.
Not only do we seek out diverse vendors and subcontractors — we’re very intentional about it — but we’re also offering training to those partners. So we just can’t say, ‘Oh, just because you’re a minority, just because you’re Black or brown or a woman, we’re going to hire you.’ We’re going to ask if there are skill sets that we need to assist you with.
We do a lot of mentoring, and we do a lot of introductions. I make sure people know about the ‘Three Es’: Exposure, engagement and empowerment. That’s how we implement our DEI initiatives throughout our expanded workforce and hiring.
Would you recommend the Assessment to other local businesses?
Most definitely. It’s very important. And sometimes as a small business, whether you’re a Black- owned business, female-owned or small business in general, we do not know about these type of assessments. The Assessment isn’t just to see what the numbers are for everybody else, but it helps you grow your company.
Diana Starks, SVP, Senior Diversity Advisor and OMWI Director, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland began participating in the annual assessment shortly after the annual process was implemented. In 2008, my team became responsible for leading the process for the bank and I discovered there were some questions where we were not able to provide a response. Using the previous survey results as a baseline, we quickly determined next steps and implemented processes to ensure we could respond to each question at a minimum and build a strategy to move us forward in our journey.
It is through those steps the bank received Best-in-Class recognition for supplier diversity for three consecutive years along with the GCP Hall of Fame recognition during the third year, and subsequent awards in other measured categories as we progressed in our DEI journey.
We believe that DEI is connected to our mission as a regional bank. An inclusive economy is central to the nation’s reaching maximum employment and is one that provides opportunity for all. The GCP E&I Assessment assists organizations in establishing a baseline and measuring progress year over year.
Equity & Inclusion Organization Assessment – Greater Cleveland Partnership
What does equity in construction mean? Cleveland leaders speak out – Greater Cleveland Partnership
CUBE keynote: What Greater Cleveland can learn from a groundbreaking Boston project’s diversity model – Greater Cleveland Partnership
CUBE: Construction, Utility, Building and Equity | Symposium 2023 — Greater Cleveland Partnership
Meet the Black woman-owned construction firm helping the Cleveland Guardians reimagine Progressive Field — Greater Cleveland Partnership
Equity and Inclusion buy-in and regional accountability needed at all levels — 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 Dynamic Businesses and Inclusive Opportunity.