Center Helping Employers & Policy Makers Pursue More Inclusive Workplaces

By: Tawanna Black

Over the last three months, we’ve been asked to partner with cities, chambers, and businesses throughout the region as the demand for a diverse workforce grows and more and more employers recognize the economic opportunity that lies in addressing their own policies and practices to overcome barriers to talent attraction and retention.

The Bloomington Chamber of Commerce and the City of Bloomington where Mayor Winstead, City Manager Jamie Verbrugge, and Community Development Director Eric Johnson are working alongside employers and residents to imagine and build One Bloomington where generations of Bloomington residents can have thriving careers and employers have access to diverse talent pools.

Mayor Winstead celebrated the launch of the Center and emphasized the need for an organization that can support the public sector and employers with data, resources and tools for building an inclusive and growing economy and said, “the work had to start in North Minneapolis with the Northside Funders Group, but it’s time for economic inclusion to go regional and expand throughout the metro.”

Our CEO, Tawanna, Black, was a keynote speaker for Bloomington’s Business Day at City Hall, where she offered a reality check on the business case for racially responsive business practices that go beyond diversity and inclusion training, to equitable zoning, infrastructure and investment strategies, and multi-generational training and employment efforts that focus on career pathways for youth, parents, and grandparents as we consider communities who are under-recruited and under-employed across multiple age groups.

At the TwinWest Chamber Talent Summit, Tawanna challenged employers and policy makers to consider the contrast in narratives and beliefs we hold about the problem of addressing the labor shortage, and the issue of addressing racial and economic employment and wage inequities and disparities. The Center challenged business leaders and policy makers to partner on improving transit services, increasing the supply and stability of workforce housing, and offering living stipends and tuition subsidies for jobseekers as they pursue training for new living wage careers, to improve efficacy of job training programs for the hardest to employ.

As attendees prepared to hear from 2018 Gubernatorial Candidates Tim Walz and Jeff Johnson at the talent focused Gubernatorial Debate, leaders from TwinWest, Make It. MSP., Real Time Talent, and the Greater Metropolitan Workforce Council shared presentations about resources and efforts aimed at ensuring that the regions employers have access to and can retain a ready and capable talent base.

The Center is partnering with TwinWest, Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, Saint Paul Chamber of Commerce, and Make.It. MSP to challenge the narratives and strategies that reinforce the myth that the labor shortages in our region can be closed without addressing institutional bias and racism inside employers. These organizations will also partner with us so that their members can take advantage of the training, resources, knowledge, tools, and networks to strengthen their talent pipelines, supply chain strategies, and ultimately contribute to building a more inclusive workplace and economy.