Employer Champions Working Together to Do More

June 14, 2023

Foshay Elena Headshot

Written By Elena Foshay,
Director of Workforce Development, City of Duluth

There has been a lot of movement among area employers around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion over the past three years. The combination of a workforce shortage and social movements has pushed businesses and organizations to reflect and make changes to their recruiting and hiring practices, and the level of inclusiveness their workplace offers to employees. We’ve made great progress, and at the same time I hear from our BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities that we have to do more.

Two years ago, the Duluth Workforce Development Board launched the Employer Champions Initiative. The intent was to create a space for ongoing peer learning, to support area employers in continuing to work on DEI initiatives. Led by the board’s Equity Committee, we wanted to push beyond the surface-level actions to create lasting change. Our goal is to create a cohort of employers that could serve as role models for their peers, demonstrating what it takes to achieve DEI outcomes and offering ongoing ideas and support. Ultimately, we want to move the needle on ongoing disparities in employment and income experienced by under-represented and under-resourced communities.

As part of this effort, the workforce board put together the Diversity and Inclusion Employer Action Guide. This guide includes practical tools and resources to help implement DEI strategies related to recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and retention. It also includes ideas for metrics to track progress, as well as a range of local supports for ongoing work.

Through a series of virtual workshops that took place in 2022, the workforce board helped employers dig into the guide while learning from each other. Now this year, we continue this work with bimonthly lunch and learn discussions focused on topics like Creating Psychological Safety at Work, Allyship, and Intent vs. Impact. We continue to share ideas and learn from each other, and invite individuals and groups from local businesses and organizations to join the conversation.

If you would like to join the Employer Champions Initiative, sign up here.

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Commitment to Change is a collaborative effort between Lake Superior College and the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce to build a more inclusive and diverse community through education, resources, opportunities, and partnerships. This robust Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion resource guide has been curated from experts across the Twin Ports to share with your organizations in honor of Juneteenth.


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