What a Difference 5 Years Can Make

Corridor Business Journal
December 20 – 26, 2010

Commentary Article Submitted by: Hazel Pegues, Executive Director, Diversity Focus; and Marcella David, Chair, Diversity Focus Board of Directors

For some in the Corridor, diversity and inclusion are comfortable topics. These are the folks leading efforts in companies and communities. Not only are they well-versed, but they are eager to talk about it.

That’s not the case for many though – and you may be surprised to hear me say this, but that’s good. In fact, it’s natural. If anything, it is a sign that we are, as a region, growing and stretching our boundaries as fellow humans. We may not be “wired” for diversity, but we can shift our viewpoints and attitudes to understand others and work harder to make the changes in how we do things to make this a more inclusive climate for all.

And, just to give everyone a little advanced notice, we are going to ratchet up the conversation in the next few months, just like we did with the SHIFT* luncheon series.

Listen for Diversity Focus’ Radio Moments on your local airwaves. We’ve created these spots with input from the community on issues that pertain to our community as a welcoming and inclusive place to build a life. We expect these audio vignettes may make some feel very uncomfortable, angry or defensive, in some cases. But we encourage everyone to look at the underlying message. Our community fabric is changing and evolving. The Corridor region, and indeed the State of Iowa have a long history of Civil Rights accomplishments to be proud of. But as we move into a future of divided political interests and rapidly changing demographics, we must be prepared to be champions for diversity here if we want to continue to be a region known for its excellent quality of life, quality education and sound workforce.

At Diversity Focus, we see ourselves as a resource for helping businesses, communities, organizations and individuals not only embrace and implement these efforts, but also to become driving, passionate champions who have the know-how to drive diversity and inclusion as a vehicle for success. Diversity is an asset in economic development. Without a strong foundation, our region cannot become the cohesive force that many in the community are pushing so hard for.

We encourage you to listen carefully to the messages behind Diversity Focus’ Radio Moments and although it might not be the most comfortable topic, we want you to start talking about what it means. We’ll know we’ve done our job when we see the conversation – both pro and con - cropping up in public forums and various media outlets.

We fear most that which we do not understand. The key to changing viewpoints and attitudes is to understand and frame the issues in a way that others can understand. We can help.

For more information on our programs, events, training and consulting, visit www.diversityfocus.org.

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