Three diversity-focused leaders explain why diversity will only strengthen the Oklahoma City landscape.
Shalynne Jackson, Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer City Of Oklahoma City
Similar to organizational diversity, our city can only benefit from having a more diverse population if we champion inclusion and equity for all. Often times, people think it’s enough to welcome others of diverse backgrounds, which is frequently described as providing a seat at the table.
What is a seat at the table if you don’t have a voice? It’s important that we are doing all that we can to ensure diverse communities are heard, valued, respected and empowered – not tolerated. By empowering diverse communities to prosper, OKC will benefit from a more innovative, collaborative, connected city, driving human mobility and economic growth. What does empowering diverse communities look like? It means advancing equitable education, healthcare, employment, housing and even access to quality food, to name a few. When we all take responsibility for our own cultural competence, we better understand the role we play in ensuring equity for all. If we all lean in, we all win.
Dr. Talia Carroll, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at Oklahoma City University
Oklahoma City is flourishing. One of the contributing factors is the increase of diverse representation of businesses and organizations, opportunities and the people who occupy leadership roles across all sectors. It is new ideas, differing perspectives and openness to growth that will contribute to our future success.
Our success as a city also hinges on the perceived and real opportunities for current residents and those who are considering moving to Oklahoma City. We have the opportunity to contribute to OKC’s success by asking ourselves, “How am I positively contributing to diversity, access, inclusion, equity, and belonging,” as a means to attract and retain the greatest talent? Our innovative and creative practices rest on our ability to expand our perspectives and work collaboratively toward the goal of cel- ebrating and honoring the lived experiences of everyone. Our community connections will be enriched as a result, and our positive influence felt in Oklahoma and beyond.
Dr. Valerie Thompson, President and CEO Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City, INC.
According to recent census data, Oklahoma City is the sixth-fastest growing city among the 25 largest cities in the United States. Oklahoma City’s future lies not just in fueling a diverse economy to bring businesses and people to our city but in navigating the challenges of sustaining our growth. For more than 75 years, the Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City has been at the forefront of empowering communities to thrive in Oklahoma City’s diverse economy. Over the last 25 years, Oklahoma City has learned that investing in human capital and their quality of life has a real economic impact. Toward that end, diverse neighborhoods and communities create opportunities for residents to have healthy interactions with people different from themselves. From improved health to enhanced economic growth, we must continue to champion the growth of small and minority businesses and diverse neighborhoods to keep us on a path from good to great.