Over recent decades, the focus on diversity and inclusion has evolved from generating awareness, to providing education around valuing differences, to its current iteration, creating quantifiable change. In 2018, the Illinois Diversity Council (ILDC) expanded its value proposition through transformational strategies that produced record performance resulting in heightened innovation, competitive advantages, profitability and sustainability. Our mission is driven by a commitment to collaborate with partners and allies in creating a societal climate that welcomes and enables equity, diversity and inclusion. This agility delivers opportunity and excellence to our stakeholders in meeting their personal, professional and business goals. Visit our website at www.illinoisdiversitycouncil.org for more information on the exciting programming additions under the “What We Do” tab and our growing list of valued corporate partners.

The ILDC is comprised of dedicated change agents; passionate and progressive in advocating for equity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace, marketplace, communities and educational institutions. Our Board of Directors and Advisory Board leaders hold career roles crossing the spectrum of the organizational chart in a gamut of business industries. We know that within any organization, everyone is accountable for equity, diversity and inclusion and as leaders, we have the added responsibility of being “business bilingual” able to translate strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. D & I is the navigation system that always arrives at the bottom line! As we close out the year, I would like for you to hear from our ILDC Women in Leadership and revisit the fundamental principles that are foundational to this body of work.

Cherie Coleman
President, Advisory Board

As I continue to drive diversity and inclusion strategies in my organization, I am increasingly confident that striving for Equity is an ambitious and achievable mission that requires each employee to do their part on a daily basis. It takes strong leadership, passion and persistence of employees at all levels to ensure equitable experiences are in place for all. As D&I leaders, it’s good to remember we are not alone, and that we can accelerate change by engaging others and communicating that by making sure everyone has the same opportunities, we will have a more diverse and inclusive workplace that will lead to better business results.

Tricia Myers
Chair, Board of Directors

It continues to be a privilege and challenge to champion Diversity within corporate America. I personally value diversity on/at all levels. Oversimplified, we can all agree that no 2 people are exactly alike and thus everyone is unique and we are all diverse. Diversity is simply is a fact. Given this rationale many contend that diversity is over-rated and companies don’t need to focus on it. While I agree that having diversity is an easily proven fact, placing strategic value on diversity as a competitive business advantage and quantifying its impact is not that simple at all. It’s challenging to provide documented evidence for the claimed benefits of diversity to the organization. We advocates of diversity often claim (without presenting evidence) that diversity will bring substantial benefits such as better decision making, improved problem solving, and more innovation, leading to enhanced products & services creating greater market share of potential customers in a global marketplace. It’s often said that simply recognizing diversity in the workplace will help link the “variety of talents” within the organization and enable those employees with these talents to feel needed and have a sense of belonging, which in turn increases their commitment to the company and allows each of them to contribute in a unique way. I know… the promises of the value that diversity brings are huge. Big. Bold. Promises. And not everyone is buying it.

That is because diversity in all its forms (culture, thoughts, gender, styles, generations, etc.) absolutely yields different perspectives and eradicates “groupthink”, but without systemic “inclusion” practices, the benefits of diversity are not experienced. In fact, having workforce diversity without inclusion, can create confusion and decreased productivity! Now that we realize that diversity is a fact and is here to stay, organizations must fully commit to fostering inclusive environments in the workplace. We must learn to truly value differences, make Inclusive Leadership a required management practice, and effectively engage every employee to reap the measurable, tangible benefits of the rich diversity of thoughts and ideas they bring.

Monica Guillory
Vice Chair, Board of Directors

Organizations that have achieved successful Inclusion practices in their workplaces know it because their staff have a sense of belonging – a sense of safety, connection, acceptance, and celebration of oneself. Diversity Consultant, Verna Myers, has said, “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance,” and some have added, Belonging is dancing like no one’s watching. How can we build connections with our employees that give them the comfort of fitting in while also allowing for their unique differences to be appreciated? Well, we build connection by being seen, heard, and valued. Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging.

Bethany Florek
Vice President, Board of Directors

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