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B2B: Inclusion Matters Over All

On November 13, 2019, Assets Toledo held their Business 2 Business (B2B) Expo at the University of Toledo. Olivia Holden, Executive Director, Assets Toledo, spearheaded this amazing event and successfully leveraged partnerships with the City of Toledo leaders and private corporations to accomplish her goal. A few of the sponsors were: The University of Toledo, The Toledo Lucas County Port Authority, Mercy Health, Toledo Public Schools, and Promedica.

Ms. Holden's vision was to open up opportunities for small business owners to connect with corporations and initiate a course of action that would lead to building relationships. This B2B Expo also included break out sessions designed for small business owners to learn how to become DBE/MBE/WBE certified, learn basic HR laws of appropriate legal conduct during an interview, financial literacy and more. Many Toledo government representatives, private corporations, and entrepreneurs were in attendance and despite the cold and bitter weather, the participants were warm and receptive.

The highlight of this event was the keynote speaker, Dr. Nathan Ziegler. Dr. Ziegler is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Mercy Health and he presented a riveting, powerful, and challenging message.

A few key takeaways from this presentation on inclusion were the following:

  1. Inclusion should be embedded into every fiber of an organization as is the case at Mercy Health.

  2. Jesus was the model for inclusion. He is no respecter of persons.

  3. Inclusion should be fundamental to all businesses.

  4. At Mercy Health, diversity and inclusion is a priority in all aspects of their business transactions. It’s used as a metric tied to their KPI.

  5. All leaders should be trained to be D & I leaders. At Mercy Health, 230 leaders are also D & I leaders.

  6. Biases do not have to influence decisions. Focus on reducing the impact of biases. The use of KPI metrics is one way of accomplishing this. It has an immediate impact now and can provide sustaining impact later.

Olivia Holden, Executive Director, Assets Toledo

I've written about this topic in my book, When Purpose Exceeds Profits, as well as in previous blog posts. Diversity and inclusion are among the top trending workplace and leadership topics of concern. Leaders carry the responsibility to analyze their own biases and how these biases contribute to the workplace culture. It's imperative for leaders to be cognizant of a toxic hostile work environment. They are responsible for defining and demonstrating acceptable and appropriate workplace behaviors. When inappropriate even unethical behavior is not identified and addressed, it sends a message that how one behaves at work doesn’t matter.

Signs of possible D&I problems to investigate:

  1. High turnover

  2. Decreased productivity

  3. Isolation among employees and

  4. Feelings of disrespect.

Dr. Ziegler and his leadership team are making significant and incredible strides in the most challenging, complex, difficult climate that impacts not only the workplace but communities. Diversity and inclusion are the primary components of an even larger leadership development process. To adequately give the right attention to these continuous issues requires continuous learning opportunities for the entire organization. When approaching the culture of an organization, observe what’s working but tackle full-on what must change. In the book, Necessary Endings, Henry Cloud, Ph.D. stated: “Without the ability to end things, people stay stuck, never becoming who they are meant to be, never accomplishing all that their talents and abilities should afford them.” This is true of an organization. To be a highly diversified and inclusive corporation requires ending by eliminating the toxins that breed stagnation in order to meet the mission. The creation and communication of a shared vision that describes what diversity and inclusion look like in the organization will support the execution of a D&I strategy, but the efforts of establishing the strategy must be iterative.



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