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Mission Possible: Greater Cleveland Partnership working to increase equity and inclusion in the Northeast Ohio workforce

In a recent study, 88% of workers said addressing equity and inclusion issues in the workplace is important to them.

CLEVELAND — A vibrant region needs a strong workforce, in which employees know they belong, and companies realize they can thrive. That’s why the Greater Cleveland Partnership provides an Equality and Inclusion Assessment every year. 

“We want our workforce to reflect on what our community looks like. In addition to that, when companies and individuals are looking to relocate, they're asking those questions,” said Patrice Blakemore the Senior Vice President of Equity and Inclusion for GCP.

Whether a start-up or established, any area business can participate to see where they stand on these issues.

“It really jump-starts the process of equity and inclusion initiatives,” said Blakemore.

The assessment helps close the gaps by exposing them. Oatey, a manufacturer of high-quality plumbing products, first took the assessment a few years ago.

“Really what we're trying to do here is to foster an inclusive environment that really embraces diversity,” said Oatey CEO Neal Restivo. “And we really want to be able to show our associates that we acknowledge, value and really are utilizing their diverse perspectives.”

Blakemore says many companies avoid taking the assessment for fear of not doing well. Oatey didn’t do well in their first year. 

“I wouldn't say we were really surprised by that, but what it did do was I guess it reinforced the fact that we had a lot of opportunity for improvement,” said Restivo.

“One of those changes was in terms of diversifying their suppliers. And so that has been one effort that they have been addressing and have been successful at,” stated Blakemore.

“From an Oatey perspective, it allows us really to expand our supplier base and to start working with companies that are actually maybe more flexible and innovative than some others that we work with,” said Restivo.

Not only is it a way for companies to measure progress, but come together through workshops, discovering how to solve problems.

“Companies that are more diverse are more profitable. They have higher revenue, and they're more profitable because they have different perspectives,” said Blakemore.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership has 20 years of equity and inclusion data. But last year only a small percentage of Northeast Ohio employers participated. More participation means more data and insight into achieving goals sooner.

“I would encourage companies to take the assessment because, you know, as I said, I think we found it to be very valuable and worthwhile,” said Restivo. “It gives you an assessment of where you currently stand. And then finally, it is a tool that you can use just to measure your progress.”

If the goal is to have the workforce reflect our community, there is still a long way to go.

“We want to be able to use this data to move our region forward,” said Blakemore. “That includes scaling our minority businesses, increasing our mid-level and senior level positions with diverse leaders.”

If you are interested in strengthening our workforce, the opportunity to take the Equity and Inclusion Assessment closes on June 16th.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above previously aired on 3News on April 16, 2023. 

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