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Partnership Efforts Aligned to Sustain DEI Momentum

Posted by Amanda Taylor on Thursday, July 23, 2020

 This week Peter talked with Colette Campbell, SVP and Director of Talent, Diversity and Inclusion for Bremer Bank. Colette shared her thoughts, experiences, and concerns around advancing DEI work within organizations across our region during the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to the racial justice movement happening across the country.

Two key takeaways emerged. One, DEI in the workplace is challenged by the economic pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic. Two, the momentum in racial equity and justice that followed the killing of George Floyd can sustain when there are dedicated actions to advance workplace inclusion. This week we are sharing out findings from two efforts that align with what we learned from Colette, demonstrating how work across the Partnership is integrated to advance racial equity and justice in the region.

Young professionals are motivated, engaged, and passionate about racial equity and justice.  

Colette explained that DEI efforts within workplaces must be done collectively- owned and supported by all individuals within an organization. Shared responsibility with measurable results is challenged in this economic landscape, but we are encouraged from survey findings of summer interns that a stronger collective approach to DEI will emerge as a new generation of young professionals enters the workforce.

Make It. MSP., the talent initiative powered by the GREATER MSP Partnership, hosted its annual Discover MSP intern event virtually last week, with participation of over 500 interns from more than 210 different cities across the U.S. and internationally. The event was designed to help the young professionals explore and reimagine their own roles in creating meaningful change. Through the event, Make It. MSP. collected unique, detailed data on young professionals’ perspectives. Early analysis reveals that racial justice and equity is top-of-mind for this generation. This has significant implications for workplace inclusion efforts as these interns represent the youngest generation of our professional workforce.

The data collected from the interns provide unique insights into how this generation will shape our workforce and our communities in years to come. These young professionals were diverse in geographic, racial and ethnic makeup. The racial and ethnic breakdown of participants was 8% Black or African American, 16% Asian/Pacific Islander, 7% Hispanic/Latino/Latinx, 64% White/Anglo or European American, and 4% multiracial or multicultural. A striking 61% of attendees indicated that they were likely or very likely to move to the Greater MSP region in the future.

We learned that young professionals care immensely about social causes, particularly racial justice and equity and climate change, and they are feeling a bit cautious about their future. When asked to select cause(s) interns felt most passionately about, 70% of registrants selected racial justice and equity and 60% selected climate change.

This generation is connected, informed, and motivated, but they are also careful and cautious about the future, a sign of the economic time. Most attendees, when asked how they feel about the future, responded that they feel cautiously optimistic.

As evidenced in the new data, making sustained strides in racial equity and inclusion, and in other social and environmental causes, will be critical for the region to see future growth. Make It. MSP. will continue to generate insights that help us understand where young professionals see themselves growing, thriving, and making an impact. Check out the Make It. MSP. blog for more insights from the Discover MSP intern event.

Racial equity and justice prioritized in Regional Economic Framework.

In addition to challenges from the pandemic, our region and our organizations face ongoing challenges, as well as opportunities, in the wake of the recent killing of George Floyd and the civil unrest that ensued. Momentum in racial equity and justice causes increased tenfold in the immediate wake of the tragic event. As Colette argues, we need sustained attention and concerted effort to keep all the pieces of this work moving effectively to create lasting change.

GREATER MSP, in partnership with the Metropolitan Council and Center for Economic Inclusion, developed the Regional Economic Framework, a roadmap for the region in advancing racial equity in alignment with the regional economic development strategy. The framework qualifies the region to access U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) funding to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 on our economy. To learn more, check out Five Things to Know here.

 The Framework emphasizes programs or projects that have explicit goals to address longstanding racial disparities and help vulnerable businesses, workers, and learners who identify as Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Inclusive workplace practices is explored in the Framework, identified as an important action to address racial makeup of jobs in our region’s sectors of strength. Our research found that over 80% of jobs in core industry sectors, Finance & Insurance and Headquarters & Business Services, are filled by white workers. Black workers account for only 4.3% of jobs in Finance & Insurance and 4.6% of jobs in Headquarters & Business Services. For these sectors to see continued growth it is important that employers have a sustained focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

 You can view and provide input on the Framework here.