UAMMI is committed to cultivating a culture where all individuals can thrive. We endeavor to lead with empathy through a lens of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) that inspires innovation and positive change within Utah’s advanced materials and advanced manufacturing industry.
Utah Compact on Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Equity in Utah
Organizations Representing Underserved Populations
Utah Black Chamber of Commerce
Pacific Island Knowledge 2 Action Resources
Pacific Island Chamber of Commerce
Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI)
Utah is one of the nation’s most welcoming states for refugees
After a series of life-threatening situations, Abdul Baryalai and his family knew they needed to leave their home country of Afghanistan.
“That was the only solution to keep myself [and my family] alive,” he says.
Through the Special Immigrant Visa program, the Baryalais were able to choose where in the United States to relocate. For Abdul, the decision was easy: Utah.
“A friend of mine had already been living here for a year and told me a little bit about the environment and how friendly Utahns were,” he says. “[My friend] encouraged me to come to Utah, and if I do not like it, I may choose to move to a different state.” Click for more
6 reasons why diversity and inclusion are important for your Utah business
KSL.com – Diversity isn’t just a catchphrase, it’s a crucial part of running a business in today’s world. But despite the best of intentions, many businesses struggle to progress past conversations about diversity and inclusion to actually implementing these concepts.
McKinsey & Company, a global consulting firm and think tank, says in their recent 2023 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion report that the amount spent worldwide by companies on diversity, equity and inclusion-related efforts was approximately $7.5 billion and is expected to double to $15.4 billion by 2026. Yet, at the current rate, it will take another 151 years to close the current global economic gender gap.
With that slow progress in mind, there are things your company can do to gain ground on the diversity and inclusion playing field. Here are six benefits that come with upping your inclusion efforts.
It’s a fact that diverse teams generate better ideas. When a workplace is filled with employees of various genders, ages, races and backgrounds, they each come with a different viewpoint and set of skills. A company will generate the greatest amount of creativity when new voices are heard and employees can share their unique ideas and perspectives.
According to an article published by the University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s business school reads, “People who think differently blend perspectives for stronger collaboration, problem-solving and innovation. Differences in thought processes also help to avoid groupthink, which stifles creativity and results in stale ideas.” In other words, birds of a feather might flock together, but they probably won’t have the freshest ideas.
Dozens of studies have found that employees in inclusive companies have more positive work experiences than those in non-inclusive companies. In an article for the Great Place to Work Institute, Matt Bush writes that when employees trust that they will be treated fairly (regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or age) they are 9.8 times more likely to look forward to work, 6.3 times more likely to have pride in their work, and 5.4 times more likely to want to stay at their company.
In short, happy employees enjoy their jobs and are more loyal to their employers, so companies will retain more of the talent they worked so hard to hire.
Better problem solving
An oft-overlooked facet of diversity is cognitive diversity. A 2017 study in the Harvard Business Review found that when tasked with problem-solving exercises, even teams that were a diverse mix of genders, ethnicities and ages didn’t always fare well.
What mattered, they found, was the cognitive diversity of each team. They found a correlation between the teams who completed the challenge fastest and the level of cognitive diversity among team members. Study authors Alison Reynolds and David Lewis concluded, “A high degree of cognitive diversity could generate accelerated learning and performance in the face of new, uncertain and complex situations.”
Improved team performance
Diverse teams work better together and get more results. Like the Harvard study where cognitively diverse teams solved challenges faster, Harvard Business Review found diverse teams make fewer factual errors. Another study published in Innovation found diverse work teams also introduce more innovations.
If your bottom line is simply increasing the bottom line (it is business, after all) then there’s good news for you. The largest incentive for many companies is the cold, hard fact that improving diversity is directly correlated with increased profitability.
Companies in the top quartile for both gender diversity and ethnic/cultural diversity were shown in McKinsey & Company studies to be 21% and 33%, respectively, more likely to outperform their peers on profitability. It’s a complex topic that comes down to more diversity equating to higher profits.
It’s the right thing to do
Regardless of the industry you are in, chances are your potential customers and employees are a mix of ages, genders, races, faiths and sexual orientations. Becoming more inclusive isn’t just good business, it’s the best way to run an organization where everyone feels respected. Celebrating differences should be a core value rather than a set of policies and procedures.
Salt Lake Chamber’s Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Training Series
The Salt Lake Chamber’s upcoming Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Training Series can help businesses learn the benefits of diversity and inclusion and develop a strategic plan to implement. The Chamber’s three-month-long spring cohort will take a group of up to 30 local professionals through training aimed at providing tools and practices needed to make a significant impact on the diversity of Utah’s business landscape.
The classes will take place biweekly from March 22 until May 31. Scholarships are available to offset the total cost of the program, so all accepted applicants are guaranteed the scholarship pricing of $299. Local professionals whose roles include overseeing diversity and inclusion are invited to apply for the program until the March 17 deadline.
The Utah Women & Leadership Project and the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity have created an inspiring initiative to identify and highlight 100 Utah companies that champion women. By supporting employees through education, family-friendly benefits, policies, or programs that advance women, these companies have created an environment where women can thrive. This episode highlights Utah Advanced Manufacturing Materials Initiative (UAMMI), which is a non-profit with the mission to elevate advanced manufacturing in Utah. Dr. Susan Madsen, Founding Director of the Utah Women & Leadership Project, is joined by Dr. Tulinda Larsen, Executive Director; Cathy Blomquist, Member Services Manager; and KC Sanders, Director of Community Outreach and Workforce Solutions with UAMMI
Susan R. Madsen, “I enjoyed chatting with Tulinda Larsen, Cathy Blomquist, and KC Sanders at UAMMI about their family-friendly benefits, policies, and programs for employees. They are a small organization and offer some great ideas of what you can do even as a small entity for your employees. Listen in!”
UAMMI Continues DEIBA Conversation
On March 7 the Utah Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Initiative (UAMMI) hosted its second roundtable on Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, Belonging and Accessibility (DEIBA), following the successful kickoff of the series in January. This most recent installment, “Opening the Dialogue” was a virtual event with 78 attendees. The initial roundtable helped indicate the importance of defining each of the constituent terms in the DEIBA acronym so that all parties have a common understanding. Providing and discussing these definitions was thus the focus of this second Roundtable.
UAMMI Executive Director Dr. Tulinda Larsen started off the afternoon’s session by acknowledging that efforts in DEIBA involve a process of learning and that this is especially important because there are “no clear baseline metrics” regarding DEIBA in Utah, nor at the national level. To begin to establish those metrics, not only did Dr. Larsen feel we need to understand definitions, but that communities would benefit from understanding companies’ and vendors’ DEIBA requirements.
Dr. Larsen provided a helpful analogy on DEIBA that she had encountered to kick off the discussion. Think of the patrons of library or bookstore and what DEIBA would mean for them. Although the example does not cover “Inclusion”, it mentions “Equality” which a term people often conflate with “Equity”, so it’s important to understand the difference. Here is how the library matches the criteria:
- Equality is everyone getting a book;
- Diversity is everyone getting a different type of book;
- Equity is everyone getting a book that fits;
- Acceptance is understanding that we all read different types of books;
- Belonging is reading the book you want without fear of judgment.
These definitions were further explored by speakers from different entities in the community examined each of the key definitions in depth, but prior to that the Roundtable heard a presentation from Michelle Burris, a Fellow at the Century Foundation, which is a progressive, independent think tank, that conducts research, develops solutions, and drives policy change to make people’s lives better. Ms. Burris’s work focuses on racial and gender equality in workforce development, especially regarding manufacturing. She shared information from the National Learning Cohort on Industry and Inclusion and the implications for DEIBA.
Ms. Burris highlighted a challenge in manufacturing nationally stemming from an overall lack of the of diversity overall and within its job sectors: whites comprise just over 65% of all manufacturing jobs and men make up 69.4% of the manufacturing workforce. People of color who work in manufacturing find themselves at the lower end of the overall pay scale, in part because whites in manufacturing are three times more likely to be in management than those brown or black individuals. Despite the challenge, the Century Foundation has seen this as an opportunity, recognizing the “need for intentional commitment to recruit a more diverse workforce.” This is reflected in the Foundation’s visions which incorporates many key DEIBA terms: “An industrial sector defined by good jobs and powered by an inclusive workforce that represents the full range of diversity in the United States and provides equitable access to employment opportunities.”
To realize this vision, Ms. Burris explained that the Century Foundation created an Industry Inclusion Cohort comprising several community colleges throughout the country. The Cohort has developed an Impactful Credentialing Model which fosters culturally competent instruction to train a viable workforce. The 2022-23 cohort consist of twelve community colleges, a set of institutions that Ms. Burris says are instrumental in connecting and educating a non-traditional workforce with manufacturing.
Following, Ms. Burris’s presentation, the in-depth discussion of DEIBA definitions began. “Diversity” was examined by Aniza Brown and Jess Ress of Catalyst Campus. The discussion on “Equity” was led by Dr. Sidni Shorter and Marshall Wright of the Utah Black Chamber of Commerce. Edward Bennett of the Suazo Business Center addressed “Inclusion” while Mindy Young of Equality Now discussed “Belonging”. To round the discussion of definitions, Kristy Chamber of the Columbus Agency considered “Accessibility”. Following these discussions, Dr. Angela Trego, UAMMI’s Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Specialist shared her thoughts on how, with a common understanding of definitions, we can move forward.
For the team from Catalyst Campus, “Diversity” means “having a range of people with various racial ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds, and various lifestyles, experiences, and interests.” Jessica Ress explained that there several benefits from incorporating diversity into a company’s workforce have been recorded. These include more creative problem solving, smarter decision making, increased profitability and productivity, decreased employee turnover, and improved company reputation. The team recommended some best practices for leadership in managing diversity:
- Be fair
- Value everyone equality
- Promote opportunities for career advancement
- Educate the workforce on diversity
- Support workforce collaboration
- Offer flexibility and support all beliefs equally
“Equity” was the topic address by Dr. Sidni Shorter and Marshall Wright of the Utah Black Chamber. Mr. Wright helped distinguish equity from equality by explaining that “At birth we’re all equal; we are unequal by the time we get to the workforce.” Equity is a means of managing the fact that not all things fit all people. Mr. Wright explained that, in the Chamber’s work, equity is associated with under-represented people and what their needs are to start businesses and be successful. Equity, in his experience, has to be driven from the top and requires trust, commitment from the executive staff, an intentionality focused on equitable mobility and advancement. He advised that programs have to change over time, as needs change over time, and that equity plans are printed out. Mr. Wright stressed the importance of ensuring different groups are not put in competition with others – collaboration is the goal. He cited Northrop Grumman (which has a female CEO, Kathy Warden) as a good example of a company with a large Utah presence practicing equity.
Dr. Shorter provided a succinct way to think of the major DEIBA components. She told the roundtable that “Diversity is a fact, Equity is a choice, Inclusion is an action, and Belonging is an outcome (of the action).” With that in mind, Dr. Shorter felt it was helpful to provide a business-oriented understanding of equity, stating that “A company focusing on equity is providing fair opportunities for all employees, but the types of opportunities may vary.” She elaborated by saying that an organization can show equity by recognizing it as a reality and fostering open discussion, creating space for the conversation.
The Suazo Business Center’s Edward Bennett led a thought-provoking discussion of “Inclusion”, suggesting that the community at the roundtable “define our own approach”. Echoing Dr. Shorter’s comments, he said that “to be inclusive is to be active”. Mr. Bennett also stated that the approach “must acknowledge that all individuals matter.” The history of inclusion is really one of exclusion, Mr. Bennett told the Roundtable. He shared a graphic tool to help understand the ways people have tried to incorporate other ideas. For example, with “integration”, a dominant group or ideology maintains precedence even if it allows another group in, but that is not true inclusivity. Inclusion, Mr. Bennett explained, doesn’t really require anything except listening.
Mindy Young from Equality Utah spoke to the Roundtable about “Belonging”. Rather that a specific definition for the business and workforce world, she suggested thinking of ourselves
and others as allies to achieve the goal of belonging: “You show up for me, I show up for you.” Ms. Young provided a valuable example of how belonging can be lacking, despite worthy efforts, mentioning her experience when a white male over 40 said that he did not feel “there was any room him in DEIBA discussions.” Her point was that even as we become more diverse, everyone belongs but it takes effort to foster that belonging. To do that, she recommends business leaders
Rounding out the definitions of DEIBA topics was Kristy Chambers of Columbus Community Center, covering “Accessibility”. Her organization uses a very succinct definition, “enabling access to facilities including thru the use of technology.” While the Columbus Community Center focuses on persons with disabilities and those on the autism spectrum, Ms. Chambers iterated that when enabling access, businesses can target specific groups (such as the disabled), but that the concept can be applied to a much wider population. Accessibility for the disabled has increased recently, especially in Utah because of low overall unemployment. Consequently, as businesses have struggled to find workers, they have become more willing to adapt. Fortunately, as they have done so, they are realizing the benefits of the approach and are continuing to embrace accessibility. For those with “invisible” challenges, such as autism or homelessness, accessibility is sometimes harder (for example, they may rely on public transportation which can have schedule implications), but Ms. Chambers advises that by creating a workplace of trust, it enables work to feel more comfortable discussing accessibility needs.
Some of Ms. Chambers’ additional recommendations for business include:
- Using skills-based interviews as it helps balance against soft-skills assessments where some people, such as those on the autism spectrum, may not perform well;
- Ensuring that C-Suite members embrace accessibility and endorse it as important;
- Encouraging self-advocacy, again through trust, so that workforce members can feel comfortable addressing accessibility issues that many not be evident.
Following these very informative sessions on definitions, Dr. Larsen asked if any members of the business community had issues based on what was presented that they wanted to share. Megen Ralphs of Align, a defense manufacturer in Cedar City, discussed her rapidly changing workforce. Essentially, as their workforce as aging, Align is experiencing a loss of a very experienced workforce as a younger, but inexperienced cohort comes in. The latter brings more diversity, but there is a challenge in ensuring that as that happens the culture fosters collaboration between the two groups, especially so that valuable knowledge is transferred. Meanwhile, Marshall Hagen, Sales and Business Development Manager at (and a UAMMI board member) stated that he thinks that for his firm to enhance DEIBA generally, but diversity in particular, the firm is looking at where they hire. Sandra Brown, of Living and Aging with Pride would like to see more about aging and inclusion of older adults in overall DEIBA discussions.
Dr. Angela Trego, UAMMI’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion specialist, was then asked to help the Roundtable participants take the day’s learning and guide them towards next steps. Her first recommendation is that, now that definitions were understood, participants should think about metrics around these, how to measure the different components of DEIBA. Secondly, decision-makers can turn the definitions into actions.
The UAMMI team is already planning its third roundtable in the DEIBA series and will announce the date soon. Dr. Larsen stated that the session will specifically provide DEIBA organizations with ways to create awareness and understanding of workforce and supplier requirements with advanced manufacturing companies.