Ripping Down Walls: Panelists Discuss Diversity, Inclusion

July 26, 2018
Written by: CREW-St. Louis
CREW-St. Louis members heard from leading voices on the region’s need to focus on diversity and inclusion. The panelists addressed issues concerning the industry while providing ideas to cultivate awareness on the necessity to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
The June 26 program had an appropriate setting at Grbic Restaurant on the city’s south side. Bosnian immigrants opened the family-run eatery in 2002, serving up both traditional Bosnian specialties and European fare. The delicious platters of food certainly left no one hungry.
The four panelists and moderator served up plenty of food for thought as well. The program was moderated by Steve Parks from The Diversity Awareness Partnership. He asked the panelists to address a number of issues, as well as to offer their insights. The panelists were: Yemi S. Akande-Bartsch, Ph.D., President & CEO, FOCUS St. Louis; David K. Rodgers, V.P. Corporate Asset & Facilities Management, CALERES; Betsy Cohen, Executive Director, St. Louis Mosaic Project, St. Louis Economic Development Partnership; and Dr. Deborah Henry, St. Louis Community College.
The importance of a more inclusive approach was underscored by changing demographics. As Dr. Henry noted, most first-grade classrooms now have more ethnic minorities than Caucasians. In 20 years, ethnic groups will become the majority of the American population.
It will take hard work, honesty and commitment to address diversity and inclusion issues not just today but in preparing for the future, panelists noted. The challenge is to look deeply and tear down walls to ensure that the region looks at the opportunity to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

“The panel presented compelling insights about diversity and inclusion,” says Monica Bailey, Director of Diversity at McCarthy Building Companies who attended as a guest. “The issues are so much broader than race or gender and many people are doing some great work to raise awareness and provide opportunities to create a more diverse workforce, particularly locally. I appreciate CREW-St. Louis for making this program available,” she adds.

“The panelists did a great job in not only presenting the challenges but providing a wealth of solutions. While much work needs to be done, our region can move forward through honest reflection and a commitment to embracing diversity and inclusion,” says Tim Sitek, President of Sitek Marketing/Communications.
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Photo Album: Diversity and Inclusion