When will Cincinnati become more inclusive?

Posted at 8:00 AM, Mar 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-29 09:34:53-04

CINCINNATI -- After the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber announced earlier this month that Mary Stagaman had been named senior inclusion advisor, a newly created position, she had a very simple message for the community.

“We will become an inclusive community when everyone sees the need for it,” said Stagaman, who most recently served as executive director of Agenda 360 for the Chamber.

During that time, the Chamber has been focused on creating a diverse workforce that mirrors the changing communities across the country, Stagaman said.

“While the demographics of our country are rapidly changing, it’s clear that our region’s diversity is not comparable to the country as a whole. We believe that regions that reflect the new demographics will be better prepared to grow and prosper,” she said.

“We need to be moving to where the country is going, not staying where it’s been.”

Stagaman will continue to lead Chamber initiatives such as Diverse by Design, a regional initiative to diversify the local workforce and increase inclusion, and the development of the Center for New Cincinnatians, a welcoming portal for immigrants. She will also guide the Chamber’s internal inclusion program.

In her new role, Stagaman will report directly to Chamber President and CEO Jill Meyer. The chamber represents the interests of 4,000 member businesses.

“Mary’s leadership in inclusion is well known in Cincinnati and is now being recognized nationally. Earlier this month, Mary represented Cincinnati as a speaker at the global Cities of Migration conference in Toronto,” said Meyer.

“In this new role, Mary will help us realize a mandate of the Chamber’s new strategic plan: to model inclusiveness and regional thinking in everything we do.”

Stagaman said recently that she was humbled by her appointment and at the opportunity to tackle a huge challenge. She is candid about inclusiveness being a key to prosperity.

But, asked if she has everything figured out on how to accomplish that goal, she is blunt in her reply.

“No, I don’t have all the answers. I am learning. But we do know that diversity – including different perspectives – leads to better performance, which leads to better bottom lines. So inclusion is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing, for companies and communities, ” said Stagaman.

She has plenty of support from local businesses.

“From the workforce, to the workplace, to the marketplace, diversity and inclusion impact not only our perceptions of ourselves, but our region’s reputation and our ability to compete nationally and globally,” said Mike Michael, executive president and group regional president, Fifth Third Bancorp and board chair for the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.

“Mary Stagaman has been a tremendous steward of the Diverse by Design initiative. Her dedication supports our regional business imperatives to attract, develop and retain diverse, high-potential talent and to leverage the benefits of diversity and inclusion throughout Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.”

Robert Jones, senior executive of human resources for General Electric Aviation, said Stagaman has inspired a vision of inclusion across Diverse by Design stakeholders and partners in the region.

“She demonstrates tremendous passion and commitment to the Diverse by Design and Inclusive by Intention mission – and fully understands the positive impact that our progress will have on growth for our businesses and the Greater Cincinnati community," he said.

Stagaman pointed out that the region’s economy is the fastest-growing in the Midwest and believes that the community needs to welcome newcomers with open arms because that’s a big step in keeping a competitive edge.

She believes that means making greater efforts to encourage immigrants to move here, supporting international students to stay in the region and attracting and retaining the next generation of leaders.

“Promoting inclusion and building teams that reflect emerging markets in the U.S. and around the globe will give us a competitive advantage as we continue to compete for people and jobs,” Stagaman said.

And, she said, there's an opportunity to create new opportunities for people here and make the region a magnet for diverse talent.

“We want to continue to create a place where everyone feels welcome and everyone gets an opportunity to participate in our economy,” she said.