Diversity Drives Cleveland's Economic Development, Recovery

Once known as a “rust-belt” region, Greater Cleveland is on the cusp of economic recoverythanks, in part, to the collaborative efforts of local organizations to recruit, retain, promote and open contracting bids to people of all ages and abilities, races and religions. Headquartered within an eight-county area in northeast Ohio, a coalition of diversity-management leadersled by the economic-development group Greater Cleveland Partnershipis bringing wealth to underserved communities as the region experiences a post-recession renaissance.


ReadDiversity Drives Cleveland’s Economic Developmentin the digital issue of DiversityInc magazine.

A recent Brookings Institute report found Cleveland is on the road to resurgence, ranking 10th among 50 U.S. metro areas. That’s because of its diversification from a primarily industrial base to “new economy” sectors, such as healthcare, biosciences and high-tech industries. Based on annual employment growth and per-capita income, the study found Cleveland’s income jumped 4.1 percent from 2009 to 2010 compared with pre-recession years (19932007).

What’s prompting change in the city of Cleveland (population 430,000) and surrounding areas One factor is the leadership commitment to provide opportunities for all, including the nearly 60 percent Black and Latino population in the metro area (Census Bureau), as the Cleveland Group Plan Commission rolls out an aggressive revitalization plan that includes a new 100,000-square-foot Cleveland Medical Mart and adjoining 230,000-square-foot convention center, a $700-million downtown casino and more.

Cleveland Economic Development: Build It andJobs Will Come

Cleveland’s capital-improvement projectsand the area’s low cost of living (almost4 percent less than the national average,reports Greater Cleveland Partnership are spurring jobs andattracting businesses and “creative” thinkers frommajor metro areas such as New York. When coupledwith the leadership commitment to diversity andthe investment in emerging sectors, Cleveland ispoised for potential growth.

A welcoming environment and opportunity tomake a significant difference lured Dr. MarilynSanders Mobley back to Cleveland’s Case WesternReserve University (CWRU), where she earned herPh.D. in English. Three years ago, she was among 136applying for CWRU’s vice president for Inclusion,Diversity and Equal Opportunity, and was appointedby President Barbara R. Snyder, who sits on Greater Cleveland Partnership’sboard, to the elevated, cabinet-level position.

“I saw it as an opportunity to do diversity theright way,” says Mobley, adding that the number ofBlacks, Latinos and other underrepresented undergradsat CWRU rose four percentage points over thepast year. “Had the job reported to HR, I wouldn’thave taken it.”

Since coming on board a year ago, she has built a robust diversity program,thanks to Greater Cleveland Partnership’s guidance and recognition, including the formation of adiversity-leadership council and supplier-diversity initiative council; launchinga faculty diversity-awareness lecture series sponsored by local corporationssuch as KeyCorprolling out a pipeline initiative with John Hay High School that provides afree ride to qualifying underrepresented students who strive to go to medicalschool; and working one-on-one with multicultural student groups “to makethe university a more welcoming environment.” Soon to come: a train-the-diversity-champion program, which includes an LGBT-inclusive SafeZonecomponent, and CWRU’s strategic diversity-action plan.

“Inclusive excellence is the key to remaining competitive, not only in ourfield of higher education but also in creating the kind of workplace environmentwhere individuals can thrive and develop their full potential in theGreater Cleveland business community as contributors and change agents,”she says.

Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson, who took office five years ago, alsoreturned to the city after serving in the U.S. Army. Now, under Jackson’sleadership and with input from thousands of Clevelanders, the “ConnectingCleveland 2020 Citywide Plan” has been created to serve as a regional blueprint.

It calls to improve the quality of life in Cleveland’s 36 neighborhoodsand lays out targeted strategies that include diversity. The plan “proposesthat the city fully embrace its diversity, cultivate it, nurture it and market itas a key element of its revitalization strategy,” the report states.

Power inNumbers: Cleveland’s Diversity & Inclusion Creates Economic Development

Greater Cleveland Partnership built a unique all-volunteer program in 2000 called theCommission on Economic Inclusion, a broad-based coalition ofmore than 100 northeast Ohio employers committed to making theregion’s diversity a source of economic strength. The organizationboasts a combined member workforce of nearly 200,000 in northeast Ohio andmore than 575,000 employees throughout the United States. Its goals include:

1. Supplier Diversity

Growing regionalminority-ownedbusiness enterprises(MBEs) through accessto capital, workshopsand a businessmatchmaking programthat has secured morethan 54 deals, worth$131.6 million.

2. Workforce Recruitment

Increasing access towell-paying jobs for allthrough, among otherinitiatives, the DiversityProfessionals Groupthat meets quarterly toshare metrics and otherbest practices.

3. Retention and Leadership Development

Including more Blacks,Latinos, Asians andother underrepresentedgroups in seniormanagement andboard leadership rolesby providing diversitytraining, seminars andconferences.

Through formalized relationships with member CEOs, chief diversityofficers and C-suite executives “who make decisions,” says Greater Cleveland Partnership’s SeniorDirector of Inclusion Initiatives Dr. Deborah A. Bridwell, “the commissionhas been helping members achieve their diversity and inclusion goals.”

Inaddition to holding two CEO briefings last year, each attended by more than40 member CEOs, Bridwell and Andrew Jackson, senior vice presidentand executive director of the Commission on Economic Inclusion, pointto the success of their inaugural “Senior Executive Forum.” Co-hosted bythe national real-estate company Forest City Enterprises and keynoted byDiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti, they say it has signifi cantly strengthenedlocal leadership buy-in with 45 senior executives attending.

“The forum helped us connect with C-level executives who overseeand maintain change efforts within their organizations and hold others

accountable to achieve results,” says Jackson, a former consultant atAccenture. And Visconti “delivered a thoughtful and energizing keynote addressthat combined research on current and future business trends with a messageabout the business value of maximizing diversity and inclusion withinan organization. He also praised and encouraged our region for its attentionto these issues and related opportunities.”

Solidifying their commitment, each new member is asked to sign anagreement promising to fi ll out the commission’s annual diversity survey,designate a senior staffer responsible for diversity-and-inclusion efforts,implement a formal method for tracking supplier-diversity spend withMBEs, and more. The result of this deep-seated investment is reflected inthe commission’s most-recent 2009 Employers Survey on Diversity, whichpolled 98 member employers and found:

Cleveland’s Economic Development ShowsCommitmentto Supplier Diversity

“We have informed and enlightened leadersand that’scritical,” says Margot James Copeland, KeyCorp’sexecutive vice president, corporate diversity and philanthropy,and chair of KeyBank Foundation. A longtimesupporter of local and national economic empowerment, Copeland wasinstrumental in the formation of the commission and today sits on its oversightcommittee, where she shares her company’s core diversity values andnetworks with fellow members. KeyCorp has been repeatedly recognized byGreater Cleveland Partnership for board diversity as well as supplier diversity.

Diversity “helps us create sustainable relationships,” says Henry L. MeyerIII, former chairman and CEO, who retired May 1. “These relationshipssupport our reinvestment in the community and support our attempt tocreate an inclusive and collaborative environment that helps our businessesand communities grow and prosper. Our membership in the Commission onEconomic Inclusion reflects our commitment to the economic strength ofnortheast Ohio and all of its citizens.”

For example, the Cleveland-based financial institution has made a$2-million philanthropic investment in Cuyahoga Community College (alsoknown as Tri-C), a commission member recognized in 2007 for its workforcediversity and in 2008 for its senior management diversity. “The collegeis an extraordinary asset to our community,” says Copeland.Tri-C’s diversity program, under the direction of Judi McMullen, vicepresident of human resources, and Andre Burton, director of diversity andinclusion, is comprehensive. The multi-campus college offers educationopportunities to a diverse slate of studentsroughly 39 percent are Black,Latino or from other underrepresented groups, while 62 percent are women.

To further increase retention/graduation rates and help break down racialbarriers, the college launched its Minority Male Initiative (MMI) last year,which includes mentoring, tutoring, fi eld trips, mock interviews and more. Thanks in part to the efforts of its diversity recruitment committee, Tri-C’s3,000 employees are 29 percent Black, Latino or Asian. Similarly, its tenure-trackfaculty searches yield an underrepresented applicant pool averagingbetween 20 and 29 percent, above average for faculty searches nationally.

Recently, with construction projects on the drawing board or under way,in addition to ongoing campus-wide initiatives, the college has focused onsupplier diversity and set a subcontracting target of 15 percent minority-ownedbusiness enterprises, 5 percent women-owned business enterprisesand 3 percent veteran-owned vendors. “I’m happy to report that, so far, wehave been hitting those targets thanks to our outreach efforts,” says Burton,noting Tri-C’s supplier-diversity workshops for creating business plans,preparing bonds and other capacity-building tools.

“We try to weave diversity and inclusion into everything we do,” saysMcMullen. “That’s when we know we’ve been successfulwhen diversityjust comes naturally.”

Also pivotal to the region’ssupplier-diversity success isrepeatedly recognized commissionmember Cleveland Clinic,which is on The DiversityInc Top 5Hospital Systems list. Thenonprofit academic healthcaresystem, with a workforce of42,000, operates nine communityhospitals and 15 familyhealth centers in northeastOhio, in addition to facilitiesnationwide and globally. Currently under construction and scheduled to openin late 2011 is its $25-million, 50,000-square-foot Huron Community HealthCenter. Acknowledged as an opportunity to generate jobs in Cleveland’sunderserved communities, the clinic set an MBE subcontracting goal of 30percent for this project and is on track to hit 40 percent MBE participation inthe project overall.

“We view our work as an opportunity to lead the rest of Cleveland,” saysChief Community Relations & Diversity Officer Dr. Anthony Stallion.” Asorganizations like ours are able to fully realize their commitment to diversityand inclusion, our patients benefi t and all of Greater Cleveland benefits.”

The clinic reached supplier-diversity procurement of nearly 30 percenton the Global Cardiovascular Innovation Center completed last year.

By holding matchmaker events, collaborating with external partners andhosting vendor meet-and-greets, the clinic is effectively connecting withexisting MBEs. It also helps potential MWBEs grow their size/scale todo business with Cleveland Clinic through numerous partner projectsincluding the Greater Cleveland Partnership Commission’s Minority Business Accelerator 2.5+aswell as supports workforce-development programs to increase the numberof Black, Latino, women and other underrepresented laborers in the clinic’scapital-improvement projects.

“There are people and organizations in Cleveland that are making a differencethrough diversity,” says Bridwell, “and Cleveland Clinic is workinghard at it.”

Creating Inclusion: Cleveland’s Diversity & Inclusion Leadership

The civic-minded leadership at Forest City Enterprises, which hascalled Cleveland home for the past 90 years, is also making a difference,notes Bridwell. Six years ago, the company appointed itsfirst director of diversity and inclusion, Charmaine Brown, “to putmore skin in the game,” she says. An active member on the commission’smembership impact committeealong with co-chairs Forest City Presidentand CEO Charles Ratner and Cleveland State University Vice President ofAdvancement Steven MinterBrown quickly expanded her diversity role.

With Greater Cleveland Partner’s guidance, she shifted the focus from workforce equality onlyto change agent of “every component of the organization.” This includedkicking off a strategic diversity plan for 20122015 with new leadership. Shesays, “We have engaged in a data project to get more accurate and validatedinformation on our supplier-diversity efforts as a company. We are currentlyin the process of hiring a vice president of procurement.”

Consider Forest City’s 83-year-old Co-Chairman Albert Ratner, who isdeeply committed to creating a welcoming environment in Cleveland. Theson of a Polish immigrant, he realizes the value of recruiting the newlyarrived to a region with a shortage of skilled labor. Along with other localexecutives, such as Cleveland Clinic’s and Huntington National Bank’s, hehas laid the foundation for the city’s fi rst International Welcome Center.

Its mission: to help transition skilled international workers into northeastOhio’s economy and community. If the region cannot lure high-skilledimmigrants, he told the press, “We will continue to decline. We will becomepoorer and poorer, and more and more of our children will leave.” SinceForest City builds neighborhoods, it knows “the hot spots are the places thathave immigrants,” he said. And thanks to a recent planning grant of $50,000,Cleveland State University (CSU), in partnership with the Jewish Federationof Cleveland, is leading the center’s effort.

For more than two decades, CSU has creating a welcoming campusclimate. Through a university-wide diversity strategy directed by VicePresident for Institutional Diversity Dr. Njeri Nuru-Holm, CSU’s programincludes multicultural curriculum, equality in hiring and promotion andincreased retention/graduation rates among underserved students. Nuru-Holm completed a comprehensive Diversity in Action Plan last year witha representative, 21-member, president-appointed Council on Diversity”to ensure that diversity is integral to excellence in access, opportunityand success at the University,” states the plan. CSU offers a broad spectrumof more than 100 courses with a cultural/ethnic focus as well as adiversity-management program for its more than 17,000 students.

Thishas helped attract multicultural students, many of them first-generationcollege students. In 2009, 24 percent were Black, Latino or Asian, while26 percent of faculty members and 31 percent of staff members were fromunderrepresented groups. (CSU has been repeatedly recognized by GCP forits workforce diversity.) CSU has produced the highest percentage of Blackgraduates in various disciplines in Ohio for more than 20 years.

To continue to increase student retention and graduation rates, support iskey, says Nuru-Holm. “It’s one thing to get them in the door, but it’s anotherto retain them,” she says. For example, student services include the AHANAPeer Mentoring Program, designed to engage incoming Black, Latino, Asianand American Indian freshmen both academically and socially. Similarly,the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Alliance (GLASA) and LGBT Student Serviceswork in concert and are active, organized and visible. “They feel they have avoice here,” says Nuru-Holm. Support through cultural-competency trainingand education is also available, including CSU’s free Leadership Forum onDiversity series for students, educators and the public.

Diversity and inclusion are core value at Columbus, OhiobasedHuntington Bancshares. “We are committed to attracting and retaining individualsfrom a variety of backgrounds, with a variety of characteristics andattributes,” says Steve Steinour, chairman, president and CEO of Huntington,which operates more than 600 branches in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana,Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky. “But we realize that diversityin and of itself doesn’t advance our mission. To keep winning as a growthorganization, we need to be more open and actively welcome the unique wayof thinking that every colleague has to offer.”

Huntington has refocused its efforts on diversity, and in January 2011, thecompany appointed Traci Dunn as senior vice president, inclusion director.”This journey is focused on building an inclusive culture,” says Dunn. “Itbrings out the best in each of us. It enables us to drive innovation to improvethe customer experience in all the ways they expect but most importantly allof the ways that exceed their expectations. Our unifi ed approach to inclusionenables us to provide an inclusion lens to our talent processes as well as ourbusiness practices.”

In Greater Cleveland, Huntington supports the Global ClevelandInitiative and Welcome Center. This initiative is about attracting talentedpeople to the areawhether they are from other parts of the country orother parts of the world. The center connects them to opportunities in thecommunity, Dunn says.

In addition, Huntington partners with the Minority Business AssistanceCenter of the Urban League of Greater Cleveland and the Cleveland SmallBusiness Development Center to sponsor Huntington National Bank Days atthe Urban League. These events enable minority-owned business enterprisesdirect access to business bankers to discuss their current and future financialneeds. Huntington is currently the fourth-largest SBA lender in the countryby number of loans, Dunn says.

“The ultimate goal of this cultural shift is to create a workforce oftop talent that is inclusive and refl ects the communities we serve,” saysKeith Sanders, executive vice president and human-resources director atHuntington. “When it all comes together, Huntington becomes an even betterplace to work and grow professionally.”

Shaping Diversity & Inclusion Strategies, Economic Development in Cleveland

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland launched its most recentdiversity and inclusion initiative in 2006 by conducting an extensive”diversity culture audit” that included interviews with seniorexecutives, focus-group sessions, one-on-one interviews, a reviewof policies and practices, and a bank-wide survey. A multi-year strategicplan was developed, according to Diana Starks, assistant vice president and diversity officer in the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI)at the Cleveland Fed. She says the results of a second survey were recentlydiscussed with senior bank leadership and will help to shape diversity andinclusion strategies for the next three-year period.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is one of 12 Reserve banks withinthe Federal Reserve System. It contributes to the formulation of U.S. monetarypolicy, monitors economic and fi nancial conditions in the region,and regulates banks within its territory, which includes Ohio, westernPennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, and the northern portion of West Virginia.

Starks says there are three components of the Cleveland Fed’s diversityand inclusion journey. “We are aggressively working to have an inclusiveenvironment. We are creating a workplace that is representative of the communitiesin which we live and do business and is consistent with the applicablejob market, and we want to gain a reputation of having a diverse andinclusive environment,” she says.

The bank conducts training and education for the entire workforce toraise and enhance awareness and build cultural competence for individualsand teams. Starks says the bank has a robust supplier-diversity program thathas facilitated new business relationships with small and minority-ownedbusinesses and has enhanced its community-outreach initiatives.

According to Starks, Sandra Pianalto, the president and chief executiveofficer of the Cleveland Fed, demonstrates her commitment to a diverse andinclusive workplace through her leadership, working with her executiveteam to advance the bank’s diversity and inclusion strategies, attending andparticipating in various dialogue sessions with staff, and through her communityinvolvement and engagement.

Developing Cleveland’s Network for Diversity & Inclusion

Another notable GCP commission member is University Hospitals, ahealthcare system that includes a major academic medical center;community hospitals; outpatient, urgent-care, cancer, rehabilitationand pediatric centers; and mental-health facilities. The organizationin The DiversityInc Top 5 Hospital Systems and recognized forits work/life benefitslaunched its diversity council several years ago.

“We realize that University Hospitals can enhance the way we treat andserve the surrounding community through initiatives and employees that arereflective of the region’s diverse population,” states CEO Thomas F. ZentyIII. “A spirit of inclusion is crucial to patient care and our clinical research.Our board of trustees, led by the Cultural Diversity Committee of the Board,understands that a coalition of caring staff is required to integrate diversityinto every aspect of our organization, so that all patients and staff membersregardless of their backgroundwill feel at home.”

Today, University Hospitals (UH) has a 10-member council whose goalsinclude building partnerships with the MWBEs in greater Cleveland;ensuring a multicultural group of administrative leaders; and recruiting andretaining a talented pool of faculty and other healthcare professionals fromunderrepresented groups, states the University Hospitals diversity report. Asa result of this, the Minority House Staff Organization and other pipeline initiatives,13 percent of UH’s house staff physicians are Black, Latino or Asian,up from 2 percent a few decades ago. UH has also increased the percentageof underrepresented groups on its board to 28 percent and made a $1.2-billioninvestment in the community’s fi nancial health.

GCP member Cleveland Public Library (CPL) has also made significantstrides in the areas of workforce and supplier diversity under the guidanceof the commission and committed leadership. Since his arrival from the LasVegas public library system in 2008, Director Felton Thomas Jr. has beeninstrumental in helping to increase CPL’s annual supplier-diversity spendby 20 percent. With capital improvements slated for the main library, “we’vebeen working with the commission’s vendor list to fi nd diverse suppliers,”he says. In addition, “half of our staff [of about 700] is people of color.

Management is 30 percent and the executive team is 33 percent.”Thomas describes the CPL as a “community defi cit fi ghter” and hasinitiated more multicultural programming. This includes a partnershipbook program with the Slovenian Museum & Archives and the ConsulateGeneral of the Republic of Slovenia (Northeast Ohio is home to the largestSlovene community outside of Slovenia); a free summer lunch program thatdelivered 20,000 meals to at-risk children this past summer, in partnershipwith the city of Cleveland and the Children’s Hunger Alliance; and ongoingGED, ESL and U.S. citizenship courses. Soon to come: educational classes forpeople who have recently been released from prisons.

“We’re becoming a learning lab,” he says, “and making a more educatedcommunity.”The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, another GCP memberpreviously honored for senior-management diversity, is contributing to theregion’s cultural and economic strength as well. The organization is helpingto draw the “creative class” to northern Ohio, as one of the biggest touristattractions. Since opening in 1995, the museum has welcomed more than 7.5million visitors and drove more than $1.5 billion to the regional economy.

“Any city that wants to make sure it’s positioned for the 21st century,” saysKeyCorp’s Copeland, “must make sure the fabric is culturally, economicallyand socially diverse.”

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