The community’s largest annual business gathering focused on inclusion, the Fifth Third Bank Diversity Leadership Symposium hosted by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, is coming up Dec. 10. This year, it’ll look much different than usual, but event organizers consider that a good thing.
“Before this, the conversations were happening, the room was full, and we still weren’t reaching everyone we needed to. More people are raising their hands now. Because of COVID-19 and George Floyd along with many others, we have greater awareness coupled with a business community that says we’re going to come out of this COVID depression and emerge a better version of ourselves,” says Jill Meyer, president and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. “Hearts have been changed, awareness has been lifted, and we’re putting tools in the hands of those who will rebuild differently. It’s an opportunity we didn’t ask for but it’s our reality. It’s an opportunity to build things the right away. My excitement is how quickly, and robustly a diverse the group of participants – and not just our usual suspects in these conversations – are coming to participate now.”
The event’s exclusive conversations will be headlined by Greg Carmichael, President & CEO of Fifth Third Bank and David Taylor, President & CEO of The Procter & Gamble Co. Participants will hear directly from these top leaders of the importance of having intentional, committed focus on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and how the business community can have profound impact on meaningful progress. Additional programing will include panel discussions and breakout sessions.
“We are kicking off the conversation with how they have been tackling this, producing results, and how we can all learn from one another,” says Meyer. “Normally, we bring in a national speaker, who’s on the circuit, and usually has written a book about the issues we’re focusing on. This year, we’re focused on Black talent, and hearing from businesses based right here in Cincinnati instead.”
Meyer says that while there’s work to do, there are many good things happening in our businesses – with measurable results – and the Chamber is thrilled to highlight that work to inspire even more. “Things that people can learn from and replicate,” Meyer adds. “What’s happening and going well that people can learn from? Who are our local leaders and resources that can help others lean in and think creatively?”
This focus on inclusivity, Meyer says, isn’t new for the Chamber. “The work we’ve been doing at the Chamber for more than five years has been centered on the commitment to model inclusion in everything we do,” she explains. “We see the data that says not everyone is participating in our economic momentum and the rise of the community. There’s a big population in this region not participating, not because they don’t want to, it’s because they can’t break through or navigate some of the systems that are in place.”
Meyer says she’s confident in our collective ability to build differently going forward because it’s in the DNA of this region. “It’s the Cincinnati way. Maybe sometimes we’re too humble. But it’s the willingness to roll up our sleeves and really dig in. There’s a lot of that happening now on the diversity, equity and inclusion front,” she says. “To think about the Cincinnati we knew in February –there was a lot of good stuff happening then. But the Cincinnati that emerges from this is going to be far more vibrant, with an even more lively energy …because there’s an imperative that we must do better. More people are taking ownership of inclusion in an intentional and committed way. It absolutely will bring the community to life in a way it hasn’t in the past.”
Due to ongoing health concerns of public gatherings, this event – which typically sells out with over 800 attendees – will be held virtually. “We see this as an opportunity to reach even more people with a message that’s more important and needed than ever,” says Meyer. The event will take place from 8am-12pm. Click here to learn more and RSVP: https://www.cincinnatichamber.com/events-programs/event-details?EventCode=C201210DSY