Video: Takeaways from CBJ’s Diversity, Inclusion & Impact Symposium

LaDrina Wilson, founder of Iman Consulting, speaks at CBJ's Diversity, Inclusion & Impact Symposium on Aug. 17, 2022.
LaDrina Wilson, founder of Iman Consulting, speaks at CBJ's Diversity , Inclusion & Impact Symposium on Aug. 17, 2022. CREDIT RICHARD PRATT

The Corridor Business Journal’s Diversity, Inclusion & Impact Symposium held Aug. 17 at the Hyatt Regency Coralville featured keynote speakers and a panel discussion about best practices in the workplace on the critical topics of diversity, equity, inclusion and engagement.

Here is an overview of the event presented by GreenState Credit Union and also sponsored by Mount Mercy University, ACT, City of Cedar Rapids, Grinnell Mutual, City of Iowa City, UDF, Collins Aerospace and Wellmark.

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Health equity 

Morning keynote speaker, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield Executive Vice President Laura Jackson, spoke on the importance of health equity in the workplace

As defined by the Center for Disease Control, health equity is when no one is “disadvantaged from achieving potential” and that health inequities stem from differences in “length of life; quality of life; rates of disease, disability and death; severity of disease; and access to treatment.”

“When I think of health equity, I think of the fact I grew up in a small town in Iowa and I was one of four children,” she said. “My mom was a stay-at-home mom and he [my dad] made maybe $24,000 in a good year. But I didn’t think we were poor. I never went hungry. I always had clothes. We had good schools. I lived in a community where everyone cared about one another. So, I had some opportunities growing up as a kid that some people simply don’t have. One thing that I didn’t have to worry about was no one ever treated me differently because of the color of my skin.”

Cultivating inclusion

LaDrina Wilson, founder of Iman Consulting in Davenport and newly named CEO of the Quad Cities Chamber, presented “Cultivating Inclusion: Moving from Midwest Nice to Creating a Sense of Belonging.” 

Iman Consulting provides customized education and training to enhance leadership and diversity, equity and inclusion.

Wilson has spent more than 15 years breaking down barriers and building paths to access for students in the world of higher education. Her work in community college leadership has created opportunities to partner with various businesses in a variety of industries to tackle issues such as the achievement gap, skilled workforce challenges and talent attraction and retention.

In the spirit of creating access for all, she has served as a thought leader and community advisor with the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, Quad Cities Community Foundation and the Regional Development Authority.

Panelists share diversity hiring tips

A group of employment experts offered their views on “Hiring with Diversity In Mind” during a panel discussion.

Tina Gridiron, vice president of philanthropic partnerships with ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning, served as moderator for the discussion.

Panelists included Elizabeth Buch, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) manager for the City of Cedar Rapids; Jason Glass, an instructor in human resources, leadership and entrepreneurship in the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa and chair of the Iowa City Human Rights Commission; Cory Holloway, member relations manager for MRA, a nonprofit employer association with offices in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin; and Erick Recinos, DEI program manager for UnityPoint Health – Trinity.

Here’s one response to a question posed to the panel.

What resources do you draw from when exploring how best to engage around diversity and inclusion in your hiring practices?

Ms. Buch: A huge piece that helps with resources (is) researching the people in your region who are already doing this DEI work, and how can we pass the mic to them and help them share. What are the barriers you’ve seen because you’ve been in this. How can can we learn from you? It’s not only creating trust, but building that trust with our community, to make sure they know we’re in this for the right reason and that we want to move forward together, which can be really difficult. We already have a list, Hiring for Diversity. We selected it because when we think about DEI, we think about sustainability and other resources we can provide. That (resource) has a whole organization behind it, with a plethora of YouTube videos, PDFs and other documents. It does a great job of combing through the process and helping to look at what we do and what they consider best practices, while also doing external research and bringing in different voices.

Unconscious bias 

Luncheon keynote speaker, Amy Tolbert, principal of ECCO (Energizing Cultural Change in Organizations) International, of St. Paul, Minnesota, spoke about Moving From Unconscious Bias to Conscious Inclusion. 

She presented Four Simple Actions to achieve this:

  • Acknowledge unconscious bias. Biases can be formed about a variety of differences including communication style, parental status, gender, religious beliefs, work experiences, language and accents, age or generational perspectives and sexual orientation.  
  • Be present and pause. Know what your triggers are; the only thing you can control is your own behavior. 
  • Consider the other person’s point of view.
  • Determine what to do differently. Consider intent versus impact. 

For more coverage of the Diversity, Inclusion & Impact Symposium, read the Aug. 29 issue of the Corridor Business Journal. 

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