Create a Competitive Advantage

Creating a Competitive Advantage through Diversity and Inclusion

“Diversity is the mix. Inclusion is making the mix work.”

One of the key themes of Fifth Third Leadership Symposium 2012 came from Andrés Tapia, international thought leader on diversity and inclusion.

Tapia, who spoke passionately about the importance of diversity and inclusion, asked the crowd of almost 400, “You are ready for people who look differently, but are you ready for people who behave differently?”

The report released at the event affirmed the core assumption that a lack of diversity and inclusion in our region is an economic disadvantage that reduces our overall competitiveness. And people are stepping up to be a part of the solution.

More than 120 people have signed up to participate in targeted initiatives that will use the report as a foundation for greater inclusivity. The initiatives are designed to: 

  • Align and grow a suite of programs to grow the base of high-demand talent in the region, especially young professionals. This initiative will be convened by Santa Ono, president of the University of Cincinnati.
  • Develop a best practices community to bridge company boundaries, bring members of employee resource groups together to increase social ties, and reduce retention risk. Leigh Prop, senior vice president and director of Talent Acquisition and Engagement at Fifth Third Bank, will convene this group. 
  • Develop a leadership program for mid-career multicultural professionals that builds on the successful program at the Greater Cincinnati Urban League. This initiative will be convened by Donna Jones Baker, president and CEO of the Urban League. 
  • Develop a strategy to attract more immigrant-entrepreneurs to the region and grow the number of immigrant-owned companies and culturally-focused non-profits. This initiative will be convened by Richard Herman, co-author of Immigrant, Inc. and a speaker at the symposium. 
  • Grow the community of “goal setting” companies in the region that are committed to a minority-owned business spend through the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Minority Business Accelerator.

The perception and reality reflects that the region is highly homogeneous and that we collectively have to work to be a truly inclusive, welcoming community.

When comparing Cincinnati to peer and competitive regions, it was below the peer average in six of the nine metrics, including being 11th of 12 in the metrics of racial and ethnic diversity, minority-owned businesses, female-owned businesses and foreign-born population.

But the report also reflects that the time is right to increase the region’s inclusivity. Based on survey responses, there is both the appetite and the opportunity to embrace diversity and inclusion.

Respondents expressed a desire to live in a community that is diverse and expressed a willingness to support efforts to make our community more diverse and inclusive. They were optimistic about our ability to change for the better. And they cited the revitalization of downtown and Over-the-Rhine, great cultural and recreational assets and increasing innovation as positive signs of progress.

The report is part of Agenda 360 and Vision 2015’s Regional Indicators series, which hones in on key indicators that provide insights about our regional economy that will lead to positive community action.

“We believe that regions that reflect the new demographics will be better prepared to grow and prosper,” said Mary Stagaman, executive director of Agenda 360 and vice president at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. “By being intentional about improving the picture here, we will be better positioned to compete.”

Fifth Third Bank

Leadership Symposium 2012

A collaborative project of

Agenda 360        Vision 2015


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US Bank Foundation




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