At its All Member Meeting on Thursday, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce issued a challenge to its members to create a more diverse workforce by 2025.
During the meeting, held Thursday evening at Fiserv Forum in downtown Milwaukee, MMAC officials revealed the findings of a recent survey in which business leaders identified racial disparities as the region’s biggest issue.
As a result, MMAC has committed to increasing the number of African American and Hispanic employees in metro Milwaukee by 15% and managers by 25% by the year 2025.
The survey’s findings and reactions from business leaders were detailed at length in the latest cover story of the BizTimes magazine.
Also at the meeting, MMAC brought on a panel of experts to discuss the issue and steps that employers are taking to increase workforce diversity and inclusivity.
The panel included Blake Moret, chairman and chief executive of Rockwell Automation; Erickajoy Daniels, senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer of Advocate Aurora Health; Austin Ramirez, president and CEO of HUSCO International; Steven Brown, global inclusion and diversity leader of GE Healthcare; and panel moderator Genyne Edwards, partner at P3 Development Group.
When Edwards asked the panel why the goal of making the Milwaukee area a reason of choice for workers is important, Moret gave two reasons: It makes business sense and, more broadly, it’s better for the communities where the companies are located.
“Diverse teams make better decisions, period,” he said. “It creates a stronger company and, related to that, it allows us to attract and retain the broadest and best talent pool.”
Daniels said if a company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives are to have a real impact, they’ll need employees at all levels to buy into the underlying objective.
“One of my mentors often says, ‘If you don’t have the leadership and support and endorsement from the top, you may be running into a futile effort,'” she said. “Getting the engagement for it to become an imperative for the organization, and then understanding that it can’t be a project, it can’t be an initiative. … Because then it loses attention. It can’t be trendy.”
Also during the meeting, outgoing MMAC chairman Todd Teske, president and CEO of Briggs & Stratton, passed the torch to new chairman Jonas Prising, CEO and chairman of ManpowerGroup.
“The work that MMAC is doing and will do to ensure metro Milwaukee is a region of choice for diverse talent, and to improve the connection between education and employers, could not be more timely,” Prising said, pointing out the region is experiencing low unemployment and a shortage of skilled workers.