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KC companies convene to tackle diversity, inclusion

January 29, 2018
  • Community
As seen in the Kansas City Business Journal. Reported by Leslie Collins. (Jan 16, 2018)

A diverse mix of Kansas City-area businesses united last week for a weeklong Communivate tournament designed to tackle workplace challenges around diversity, inclusion and equity.

The tournament and Communivate program is the brainchild of St. Louis-based management consulting firm, CMA, which has a Kansas City office on the Country Club Plaza. Although Communivate is a companywide initiative, its operations are based in Kansas City. Kelly Reed, a CMA vice president and market leader in Kansas City, pushed for the initiative to be based in Kansas City, touting the city's entrepreneurial spirit and caring, collaborative community.  

Reed described Communivate as a community-powered, problem-solving action lab that hosts innovation tournaments to address common and complex workplace issues. The concept launched in October to address a common trend CMA was noticing throughout its offices. Even best-in-class employers were struggling to keep up with the ever-changing business landscape using traditional means, she said. 

"Today's environment requires different approaches to address workplace challenges and elevate above the status quo," she said.

So what better way to address those challenges than convening employers to expedite innovation and come up with better solutions? 

In December, Kansas City-area employers narrowed the issues to three: diversity, inclusion and equity. The CMA team then brainstormed about 200 solutions and narrowed them to 108 ideas for the Kansas City innovation tournament. Area employers helped build out solutions and narrowed them to five. 

The Kansas City tournament featured small and large employers in industries such as animal health, sports, technology and business services, retail, entertainment and engineering. Participants included companies such as Lockton Cos. Inc., McCownGordon Construction LLC and Henderson Engineers, Inc. For a week, the employer teams participated in the virtual tournament, which included live chat sessions, virtual collaboration spaces, presentations and community speakers. Teams also could "like" an idea or give it the thumbs down. Each employer also used an alias to spur candid discussions. One community speaker pointed out how diversity initiatives can't be just another human resources initiative — they need to be CEO-led.

The winning solution from the tournament is "Turn up the Heat!" which will generate a heat map of inclusion across the company and its teams. Certified inclusion coaches within the companies also will lead programs to help "turn up the heat" on inclusion in their teams. 

Moving forward, CMA will build out a prototype during the next 30 days and share it with the participating companies.

 

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