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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Since 1974, Leadership Columbus has been the premier training ground to educate, empower, equip and prepare more than 2,900 individuals to become the current and future trustees in and for our community.

Diversity is at the heart of our organization’s mission: To develop, connect and inspire diverse leaders who serve as catalysts in building a strong and vibrant community.

Leadership Columbus is committed to making diversity a hallmark of the Signature Program, our community leadership program, and a core value of the organization, while also innovating and enhancing a curriculum that will address the root causes of outcome disparities. We will create a safe space to bring people together across differences to build bonds, trust and dialogue.

In addition, it is incumbent upon us to cultivate leaders who think systemically, operate collaboratively and drive solutions that move us forward to a more resilient and equitable community. We believe that people, working collaboratively, have the power to create positive change.

  • Employees – Talented and creative employees are our most critical resource and the foundation for the future of Leadership Columbus. Our continued success depends upon a diverse, team-driven work environment. Valuing differences between our staff members, we work to give everyone the opportunity to develop their skills and talents in line with our values and organization objectives.
  • Program Participants – Our community is comprised of many diverse individuals and groups, each representing a history, culture, passion and perspective. By making an effort to learn about and include multiple viewpoints in their deliberations, program participants are able to recognize the value of each person and the added importance of learning from those who have different ideas. Our staff is tasked with the objective to recruit and select class participants that reflect the rich diversity of our community.
  • Suppliers – We believe that extending opportunities to women and minority business enterprises and social enterprises is simply good business practice.
  • Board of Trustees – Equally important to the success of Leadership Columbus is a board that not only embraces diversity and inclusion, but also reflects those same qualities.

Leadership Columbus cultivates an environment that values diverse perspectives, embraces the unique strengths and differences of program participants while promoting community stewardship.

How Leadership Columbus is Operationalizing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)

We recognize that our statements are only effective when we put our words into action. Below are examples of the current steps we are taking. These will change as we grow and adapt our work.

  • Signature Program Diversity Recruitment Sessions – In December 2019 and January 2020, sessions were hosted at United Way of Central Ohio and Moody Nolan for the purpose of recruiting Signature Program applicants that reflect the rich diversity of our community. With the Latina Mentoring Academy and United Way of Central Ohio’s Project Diversity Pride Leadership as partnering leadership programs, the sessions resulted in eight Class of 2021 participants. Virtual Diversity Recruitment Sessions were hosted on January 15 and February 10 for Class of 2022 recruitment.
  • Curriculum Committee – Comprised of subject matter experts, including individuals that focus on diversity, equity and inclusion work, Signature Program graduates and non-graduates, the Curriculum Committee was formed in July 2020. The committee, chaired by two Board of Trustees members, helps to advise staff on the Signature Program curriculum and provides guidance related to other offerings.
  • DEI learning objectives and themes into Signature Program Curriculum – Leadership Columbus has embedded DEI into the Signature Program curriculum, through the following:
    – “Lead from Where You Are: A Discussion on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion” – In July 2020, Leadership Columbus supported the planning and execution of a discussion for and by the Class of 2020. Speakers, including Jonathan Moody of Moody Nolan and Donna James of Lardon & Associates and African American Leadership Academy, shared their experiences with racism.
    – Ensure diverse representation of speakers, facilitators and trainers for the Opening Retreat and monthly Program Days.
    – Pre-assignments introduce diversity-related themes, with links to supporting articles, videos and podcasts to provide more context on the issues.
    – Class of 2021 Opening Retreat – As part of the mandatory Opening Retreat, the Diversity Every Day for Everyday People half-day workshop help set the foundation for the program year.
    – Class of 2021 Simulated Society (SIMSOC) Program Day – At the conclusion of the facilitated exercise, participants participated in the privilege walk.
    – Class of 2021 History of Columbus Program Day – A Columbus historian discussed the redlining of neighborhoods and its long-term impact, and representatives from seven diverse neighborhoods shared their neighborhoods’ history and personal stories.
    – Class of 2021 Health & Human Services Program Day – Participants received a presentation that addressed how structural inequity and public policy (e.g., housing discrimination, intergenerational poverty, shortage of culturally-competent care, etc.) influences health access and outcomes. Virtual site visits with 16 local social service agencies allowed participants to have a dialogue with staff and clients regarding the successes and challenges their respective organization is experiencing, especially related to how COVID has illuminated disparities.
  • Leadership Columbus Diversity Scholarship Fund” – Using funds donated by the Signature Program Class of 2019 and from the Leadership Columbus operations budget, the fund was established at The Columbus Foundation in August 2020 with the following purpose statement: “The Leadership Columbus Diversity Scholarship Fund makes it possible for us to increase access to professional development and leadership opportunities for all. Your support helps assure diversity in all Leadership Columbus programming, including the Signature Program and Nonprofit Board Governance Training. Together, we can equip more Columbus residents to lead with confidence and courage and foster connections that strengthen the social fabric of the community.”
  • Scholarships for racially diverse Signature Program participants – In addition to our needs-based scholarships, two Signature Program Class of 2021 participants that attended a Diversity Recruitment Session were each offered a 100% tuition-paid scholarship.
  • Diversity on Leadership Columbus Board of Trustees – We can better achieve our mission by drawing on the skills, talents and perspectives of a broader and more diverse range of leaders, and that the diversity of viewpoints that comes from different life experiences and cultural backgrounds strengthens board deliberations and decision making. Therefore, the Board of Trustees will use a strategic composition matrix to identify opportunities with respect to race, sectors, skills, experiences, etc.
  • Anti-racism policy – Incorporate an anti-racism policy in employee handbook and create a Board of Trustees agreement to be signed by current and future Board members.
  • Marketing and communications – Ensure marketing and communication materials reflect the diversity of the Signature Program participants and alumni.

We are learning. We know there is more to do.  This summary of actionable ways we are holding ourselves accountable is a living document; we will add to it and review our progress regularly.