According to the Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s 2018 Member Pulse Report, half of those who responded to our annual member survey said they struggle to achieve a diverse workforce. We hope our upcoming Diversity & Inclusion Symposium, hosted with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, will help employers launch or advance diversity and inclusion initiatives.
We’re profiling the best practice experts who will share their experience and offer real-world advice at the Diversity & Inclusion Symposium, which is set for June 10 at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. Click here to get tickets for yourself or for a group. Hurry—the early bird ticket rate is good only through May 29.
Meet Brian Hall
Brian Hall is the Senior Vice President and Executive Director of The Commission on Economic Inclusion, a program of The Greater Cleveland Partnership. He has a unique blend of entrepreneurial, business management and civic engagement experience with networks spanning North America, Eastern Europe and part of the Middle East and Africa, developed via business, civic, and industry involvements.
Hall’s background is in business leadership. He became the second generation leader and owner of his family trucking firm, growing the company from $3 million to $35 million in revenues while creating distribution and logistics services related entities. Since 2013, Hall has served in multiple roles, including as the Owner/CEO of JIT Services LLC and The League Development Co., Inc.
Hall has also served on many civic boards and tasks forces in the areas of economic development, healthcare, inclusion, arts and culture. He served as a trustee, chair of the governance committee, and secretary of the board for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum for 20 years. He is the current chair of the Black Young Presidents Organization Network, an international network of black CEO’s who are members of Young Presidents Organization. He was named one of the 100 influential leaders in Northeast Ohio by Cleveland Magazine and listed as part of the Power Pack 100 by Crain’s Cleveland Business. He was inducted into the Inside Business Magazine Hall of Fame in 2010.
The benefits of advancing diversity and inclusion
Hall notes that currently we are in a business environment where unemployment is low and demographics are ever-changing, and rapidly changing. As businesses seek the best practices to deliver products and services to customers, it is very important that they recruit the best, most-engaged talent. Corporate diversity and inclusion initiatives help accomplish that, he said.
“A diverse workforce is proven to be more productive and today’s younger employees are choosing work environments that reflect their values,” he said. “Those are significantly inclusive values, so a more inclusive workplace will be more attractive to top talent.”
In addition, Hall points out that for many companies and organizations it makes sense to reflect the communities in which they do business. Diversity and inclusion efforts help businesses match their client base, their values, and their expectations. This can be particularly important in a diverse community such as the Buffalo Niagara region.
Furthermore, he says, businesses, cannot exist without the diverse organizations around them, whether it is government, philanthropic entities, or faith communities. “Each of these groups have expectations for how they interact with others in the community, including business” he explains. “This gives companies the opportunity to lead in areas of diversity and inclusion and such leadership translates into stronger business.”
Challenges to diversity and inclusion
There are, of course, challenges for companies in getting started on diversity and inclusion. Hall says the first step is creating awareness of the need for diversity and inclusion. Companies should take a hard look at their histories and the systems that may be in place that were created years ago. Outdated systems can have a big impact on diversity and inclusion and may even still be fostering inequity. Organizations should then look at what changes need to be made.
Hall also says leadership must be totally on board for any diversity and inclusion efforts, just as they would for any business strategy. For example, if a company’s major customer said they will only buy products that are produced in a sustainable manner, that company would create a task force to examine the issue. The company would look at how they make its products and set goals, measurements, and a time frame for how they can produce the products in a sustainable manner. That same sort of effort must go into advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace, Hall said.
Any inclusion and diversity initiative must involve every employee, he added, similar to how a company might roll out a safety or quality campaign. Efforts should engage employees with a message of why it is important to the business and what is in it for the employees. At some point, there may even be incentives for employees to help the company reach its goals.
The importance of the Diversity & Inclusion Symposium
At the Diversity & Inclusion Symposium, Hall will present on what he calls “Picture the Possible”, offering company leaders a guide to choosing a more inclusive and equitable tomorrow for their organization.
“There is a regional effort underway in Buffalo Niagara on diversity and inclusion. It is a lift that requires all hands,” he said. “The role that local leaders play is significant because they are decision-makers, influencers, and implementers. Coming together at the Symposium will help the community continue the momentum that has been started.”
Attend the Diversity & Inclusion Symposium
The business case for diversity and inclusion is clear. What isn’t so clear is the roadmap for getting started. Learn how at the Diversity & Inclusion Symposium, Buffalo Niagara’s premier event on the topic. Delivering the keynote address is Mary-Frances Winters, a renowned expert in the field who has worked with organizations like Disney, Pixar, LinkedIn, Twitter, Domino’s, SunTrust, Kaiser Permanente, and Ingersoll Rand. You’ll also hear from best practice experts and corporate leaders in diversity and inclusion. Individual and group tickets are available, along with the option to book a room at the nearby Hyatt Regency Buffalo.