News & Media


Report Shines Light on Need for Greater Diversity and Inclusion in Region


New Initiatives Announced at Symposium


CINCINNATI—Dec., 12, 2012— Leaders of the region’s two action plans, Agenda 360 and Vision 2015, released a new report today: Diverse by Design: Meeting the Talent Challenge in a Global Economy. The report, given to more than 400 attendees of the Fifth Third Bank Leadership Symposium 2012, can be downloaded at here.


The report measures the region’s overall diversity compared to peer regions and summarizes a survey completed by more than 1,500 respondents about perceptions of inclusion in the region.


In my office, there are people from all over. You hear different languages all day and feel that it’s very diverse and inclusive. But once I leave that bubble, it’s a completely different story. ”
– Young professional at a Fortune 500 company


The report affirmed the core assumption that a lack of diversity and inclusion in our region is an economic disadvantage that reduces our overall competitiveness. The perception and reality reflects that the region is highly homogeneous and that we collectively have to work to be a truly inclusive, welcoming community.


When comparing Cincinnati to peer and competitive regions, it was below the peer average in six of the nine metrics, including being 11th of 12 in the metrics of racial and ethnic diversity, minority-owned businesses, female-owned businesses and foreign-born population.


The report documents that perceptions about diversity and inclusion in the region are a barrier to attracting top talent, particularly for young professionals for whom diversity is a “non-negotiable.”


“We believe that regions that reflect the new demographics will be better prepared to grow and prosper,” said Mary Stagaman, executive director of Agenda 360 and vice president at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. “By being intentional about improving the picture here, we will be better positioned to compete.”


To that end, targeted initiatives were announced at the symposium that will use the report as a foundation for greater inclusivity. The initiatives are designed to:


  • Align and grow a suite of programs to grow the base of high-demand talent in the region, especially young professionals. This initiative will be convened by Santa Ono, president of the University of Cincinnati.
  • Develop a best practices community to bridge company boundaries, bring members of employee resource groups together to increase social ties, and reduce retention risk. Leigh Prop, senior vice president and director of Talent Acquisition and Engagement at Fifth Third Bank, will convene this group.
  • Develop a leadership program for mid-career multicultural professionals that builds on the successful program at the Greater Cincinnati Urban League. This initiative will be convened by Donna Jones Baker, president and CEO of the Urban League.
  • Develop a strategy to attract more immigrant-entrepreneurs to the region and grow the number of immigrant-owned companies and culturally-focused non-profits. This initiative will be convened by Richard Herman, co-author of Immigrant, Inc. and a speaker at the symposium.
  • Grow the community of “goal setting” companies in the region that are committed to a minority-owned business spend through the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Minority Business Accelerator.


Based on survey responses, there is both the appetite and the opportunity to embrace diversity and inclusion.


Respondents expressed a desire to live in a community that is diverse and expressed a willingness to support efforts to make our community more diverse and inclusive. They were optimistic about our ability to change for the better. And they cited the revitalization of downtown and Over-the-Rhine, great cultural and recreational assets and increasing innovation as positive signs of progress.


“This report isn’t intended to indict our community for not measuring up. Rather, its purpose is to inform a new conversation on how we will create a more attractive and welcoming place for all,” said Bill Scheyer, president of Vision 2015. “Encouragingly, most everyone we talked to believes that we have the capacity to change things for the better. And they expressed their willingness to roll up their sleeves and join us in changing the picture portrayed through this report.”


The report is part of Agenda 360 and Vision 2015’s Regional Indicators series, which hones in on key indicators that provide insights about our regional economy that will lead to positive community action.


Download Diverse by Design


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