In principle and in practice, the Grand Rapids Chamber believes in the value and power of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Various reports released in 2020 amidst a global pandemic, mounting racial tension and a divisive political atmosphere prove there is much work to be done.
McKinsey & Company, a United States-based management consulting firm that advises on strategic management to corporations, governments, and other organizations, released the following research findings in 2020.
- At the beginning of the year, women in entry-level management held only 38 percent of manager-level positions. Due to the challenges created by COVID-19, as many as two million women are considering leaving the workforce -- a phenomena that could set women back half a decade.
- In the case of ethnic and cultural diversity, businesses with culturally diverse teams outperformed those with minimal diversity by 36 percent in profitability.
- As it relates to sexual orientation, academic estimates have found that 5.1% of U.S. women and 3.9% of U.S. men identify as LGBTQ+. Creation of psychologically safe workplaces for LGBTQ+ employees result in happier employees who view their workplaces more favorably and have more supportive managers, all of which positively impacts attraction and retention of talent.
Despite consistent findings promoting the benefits of DEI, progress remains slow in closing gender and cultural representation gaps and, because of the pandemic, some companies have even regressed. Without diversity, equity, and inclusion, we limit our talent, resources, and the business opportunities necessary to thrive in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.
This is why we’ve assembled a team of subject matter experts who can provide DEI training for your organization. Dedicating strategy, time, and resources to both recruiting diverse talent and retaining and developing employees supports our common goal of building an inclusive culture where all people in West Michigan can thrive.
The Assessment: To develop an effective DEI strategy, it’s important to understand the perceptions of all stakeholders regarding the current state of DEI in the organization. The DEI Assessment will help you establish a baseline for your company and outline recommendations for the next steps.
Implicit Bias Training: Biases start early, and just about everyone is prone to biases. Learn more about what implicit bias is, how to combat it, and how to tackle it moving forward.
Institute for Healing Racism: The Chamber believes the most effective way to combat racism is to educate individuals by use of honest and open dialogue. This program is an opportunity to start this dialogue by bringing racism to the forefront of discussions and examining it as both a personal and societal problem.
Organizational Culture & Communication Training: Poor communication lies at the root of many problems. How do your team members communicate with one another? This eight-hour training will focus on improving and understanding communication across teams and your organization’s culture.
The Subject Matter Experts
Ken James, Director of Inclusion
With nearly three decades of experience spanning a multitude of industries including non-profit, health care, and higher education, Ken is driven by his passion to initiate cross-cultural dialogue and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. As Director of Inclusion for the Grand Rapids Chamber, he combines his knowledge and lived experiences to deliver creative, intentional programs to employers and their stakeholders. Ken is an alumnus of Kentucky State University and Grand Valley State University, from which he holds a master’s in public administration. Most recently, he earned Executive Certification in Diversity Coaching through the CoachDiversity Institute in partnership with Howard University School of Business and is recognized as an Associate Diversity Coach (ADC).
Emily Smith, Inclusion Program Manager
A native of New Mexico, language, culture, and diversity have influenced Emily from an early age. She is an Advanced Certified Cultural Intelligence (CQ) Professional and Unconscious Bias (UB) Certified Professional, and utilizes these skill sets to further the work of equity and understanding through a culturally intelligent, global, human-centered lens. In her role as Inclusion Program Manager with the Grand Rapids Chamber, Emily supports DEI training and affinity programs designed to create a greater sense of belonging for business professionals in the West Michigan community. She is an alumna of Colorado State University and Aquinas College.
If you are interested in engaging in a DEI training program or assessment, please contact Omar Cuevas, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Grand Rapids Chamber ([email protected]).
About the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce
The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce leads the business community in creating a dynamic, top-of-mind West Michigan region. Together with over 2,500 member businesses, we work to expand the influence, access, and information required to actively encourage entrepreneurial growth and community leadership. We offer the connections, resources, and insights needed to develop strong leaders, engage a diverse workforce, foster an inclusive and welcoming community, and advance a vibrant business environment that nurtures economic prosperity for all. Learn more at www.grandrapids.org.