The Truth Staff
The Diversity Equity Access Inclusion ALLiance of Northwest Ohio held its first annual meeting last week. The two-day event encompassed a variety of sessions including the CEO Summit and Professional Panel on Wednesday March 15 in the McMaster Room at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library Main Branch; the DEAI Career Fair and the NW Ohio Supplier Diversity Expo on Thursday, March 16 at the Glass City Center.
The DEAI ALLiance was formed in May 2022 after Toledo’s Diversity Employment Career Fair and is comprised of a number of individuals from assorted businesses, agencies and educational organizations, most of whom are focused on the work of diversity, equity and inclusion principles within those organizations.
Last week’s conference presented an astonishing array of guest speakers, panelists and presenters designed to address a variety of topics related to DEAI issues such as entrepreneurship, diversity programs, career advice, business best practices and the reasons that large corporations should strive to incorporate those principles.
The CEO Summit
Wednesday’s CEO Summit – sold out well in advance – featured moderator Marquis Miller, vice president, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with the Obama Foundation and a panel of local leaders: Brian Chambers, CEO of Owens Corning; Vince DiPofi, CEO of SSOE and Dionne Dorsey Somerville, PhD, president of Owens Community College. The panel members addressed their individual attempts to bring diversity, equity and inclusion into their workplaces.
“These are not conversations that we have always been comfortable at having,” said Miller setting the tone at the outset. “But there are the kinds of conversations that are absolutely essential and necessary … we should all be proud of the willingness and ability to have these conversations and do the hard work of transformation from the inside out.”
“There is a cultural imperative here to make the company different,” said DiPofi describing the challenge at SSOE. He added that the traditional culture had not been "sustainable in the long run.”
Chambers introduced the fact that such a change in a company’s culture to be more inclusive starts at the top. “It’s a personal commitment to create more opportunity.”
Chambers noted that within Owens Corning, there had been a celebration of diversity in the workplace for quite some time. However, “we did not have an inclusive environment,” he said. An incident within the company in 2014 led the company’s leaders to start talking about bringing real change.