WARREN – The Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition is set to launch a series of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives for its members and community partners as part of a targeted, multi-pronged approach.
“Our goal is to increase the focus on diversity with outreach activities in the community; increase awareness of diversity, equity and inclusion among manufacturers; and increased DEI action among manufacturers,” Allison Engstrom, Project Manager, MVMC, said.
“So it really comes down to being intentional and thoughtful with what we do in the community and then trying to raise awareness of the importance of DEI initiatives among our manufacturers and helping them see all the different ways they can take concrete measures. “, she says.
The effort is funded by a $250,000 Industry Sector Partnership Grant from the Ohio Department of Development.
It builds on a previous grant of the same type used by MVMC for youth membership and outreach.
“But to do that now through the lens of DEI focus, to make sure that we really identify community groups, partners, school districts that could really benefit from hearing our messages,” Jessica Borza, executive director of MVMC, said.
The one-year programs will include producing educational content and providing professional development opportunities for members through workshops with visiting experts and other DEI training.
MVMC will also help companies identify tangible DEI actions they can take to make the regional manufacturing workforce more representative of the local community.
“We have had discussions with the board over the past year about the importance of DEI and how we would like to approach it as an organization, and so there has been a commitment and we wanted to make sure we would have. , we did it well. And when this grant opportunity came up, we thought it would give us the resources to do that,” Borza said.
Some of the work done to date with community groups includes partnering with YWCA Mahoning Valley and OH WOW! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology will be producing a making camp for middle school girls this summer.
MVMC also met with the state agency Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities to provide training for members to become more inclusive employers and local Inspiring Minds for an after-school manufacturing career awareness program.
For member manufacturers, the focus is divided into two parts.
One, professional development opportunities “to really help them understand what the best practices are in this space, what the leading companies in the country are doing, and how can we get involved,” Borza said.
The second part concerns tangible actions.
“So how do we help manufacturers figure out how to connect to things that we’re already doing, like Work Advance or being part of our ambassador program to go talk to schools, but now go talk to some of these communities under-represented”, Borza said. “Let this be a source of reflection for them on how to take concrete action to achieve a set of DEI goals that we will set together with MVMC.”
The organization plans to reinvigorate and expand its DEI committee, include more DEI topics in its bi-monthly e-newsletter, and ask members to complete a DEI survey.
“We will review the survey responses and then essentially create a pledge for our members to sign saying they plan to support our DEI action and initiatives,” said Engstrom.
MVMC would be the DEI resource base for members. Already, the group has researched and collated what is being done by the Ohio Manufacturers Association and the Manufacturing Institute to share with member manufacturers.
The program also includes the development of MVMC staff, who will complete DEI training provided by the Raymond John Wean Foundation in Warren later this year, Engstrom said.