The argument for increased diversity and inclusion doesn’t just impact talent attraction, it also impacts a company’s bottom line. A report published by Gartner, a global research and advisory firm headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, predicted that “through 2022, 75% of organizations with frontline decision-making teams reflecting a diverse and inclusive culture will exceed their financial targets.” That same report stated, “The difference in employee performance between nondiverse and diverse organizations is 12%.”
Some local companies, like Husch Blackwell, Commerce Bank and City Utilities, have already enacted intentional, dedicated efforts to diversify their workforce and make their companies more inclusive. Now it’s up the rest of the business community to follow suit.
Changing Our Image
It’s hard to measure progress if there isn’t a concrete goal outlined, but if you ask community leaders and business executives, increasing the city’s Black population percentage from 4.4% is a step in the right direction. For transplants, this number comes as a shock. “When you look at Springfield in a Google search, it doesn’t look great because there’s a lot of historical things that come up that, for an African American, makes you think, ‘Oof, I don’t know if this is going to be the right fit,’” says Kimbrea Browning, Executive Vice President of Enrollment Management and Operations for Adult and Online Education for Drury University and recent transplant to Springfield. “It also [has a 4%] African American population, which is tiny. I’ve been in areas where African Americans are the majority and not the minority, so it was a total flip for me.” According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city’s Asian population sits at 2% and Hispanics and Latinos make up 4.4%. Springfield’s white population currently sits at 85.4%. “Instead of [a] 4% African American population, I wish it was 7%, 8%, 9%, 10%,” Browning says.