50 THE JOURNAL
GROWING OUR OWN
Jonathan Long serves as the president of Wichita Urban Professionals (ICT-UP), an auxiliary of the Urban League of Kansas.
In Wichita, where I live, leaders are grappling with how to reignite the area’s economy. Regionalism, entrepreneurship and the recruitment of young talent dominate – if not drive – local discussions. While a focus on these ideas is smart, another even more perceptive solution continues to be overlooked: diversity and inclusion. Beyond compliance, checkboxes and quotas, consider the following business case for diversity and inclusion as a primary business objective: Companies that compete globally already leverage strategies to capture a diverse clientele, or they structure operations to generate increased productivity with a diverse workforce. Not only are these companies learning how to maneuver in multicultural markets to increase their productivity and bottom line, they’re also benefiting from the innovation that can be spurred by diversity and inclusion. As an example, in 2011 Forbes surveyed 321 global enterprises with at least $500 million in annual revenue. Of those surveyed, 85 percent agreed that diversity is crucial to cultivating an atmosphere of innovation in the
workplace. Innovation – introducing new ideas, workflows, products, services and processes – is a key in today’s competitive marketplace. We have great examples locally in Koch Industries, Spirit AeroSystems and Westar Energy, which all have made dynamic strides in focusing on how diversity and inclusion can help drive their core business values. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of work to be done in the business community as a whole in terms of diversity and inclusion. For the past two years, I’ve been spearheading Wichita Urban Professionals, which aims to develop a network of rising leaders. We have three key focus areas: community development, professional/personal
Inspiration for the Common Good, Vol. 7, Issue 4.