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Colorado Inclusive Economy Helen Young Hayes Interviews with Dani Sturges of Colorado & Company.

November 30, 2022


DSS: Well, there’s an ongoing mission right now to make Colorado the most inclusive economy in the nation. It seems like that’s the theme of our show today, which is so wonderful. Helen Young Hayes, the founder and board chair of Colorado inclusive economy, along with Doctor Jandel Allen Davis, the President and CEO of Craig Hospital. They’re both here today to talk about this. Welcome, ladies. Thank you so much for being here.

HYH/JAD: Thanks for having us, of course, not a problem at all.

DSS: OK. So like I said, our show has been very much about inclusivity today, which is so wonderful to chat more with you. This is about I wanna go ahead and start with you, Helen. Tell us a little bit more about Colorado inclusive economy.

HYH: Well, in March of 2020, the COVID lockdown had just started. My company Activate Work helps train people from underrepresented communities with IT training and I wanted to see how the pandemic was going to impact the communities that we serve. So I decided to do a little research. I discovered that during times of economic shock, vulnerable communities, especially people of color get hit first. They get hit hardest and they recover slowest, if ever. So inequity widens during recession. And I’ve just wanted to see a different kind of outcome this time. So I decided to call Colorado CEO’s to rebuild this time with racial equity, inclusion and diversity as a goal and not as an afterthought. So the Colorado Inclusive Economy movement was born, and now we’re 130 plus CEO’s. And leaders who have committed to building multicultural workforces from the top down and bottom up.

DSS: Wow, congratulations.

HYH: Thank you. Together, we’re going to co-create a Colorado that works for everyone.

DSS: Absolutely. And that is really the goal. That’s so fantastic to hear. I really love that you guys did this and all born from something that we really went through as a community together. Now Doctor Allen Davis, what has it been like for you to be a part of the Colorado inclusive economy?

JAD: You know, there’s a number of ways in which it’s just been terrific and wonderful. First of all, the mission and the vision of this notion of inclusiveness which is in my mind as an employer, but also obviously as a woman of color, is win, win, win, communities win, employers win and the individuals win. If we can begin to really focus on our most disadvantaged populations having opportunities for access to great paying jobs. And so being part of the movement, and I was there right from the beginning with Helen, who’s a force of nature by the way. Being part of the movement has created the opportunity for like minded CEOs and maybe even some who are trying to check it out and figure it out to come together as peers and really talk about the challenges, the struggles, the opportunities and the victories that come from this kind of work.

DSS: So wonderful and you’re a force of nature by the way too. The two of you together it seems like we rule the world. I love this so much. It’s so wonderful. Helen, I want to come back to you. What have you found happens when companies incorporate diversity, equity and inclusion strategies into their their own strategies as a as a company, as a whole? Helen, I want to come back to you.

HYH: Well, there’s so many positives and benefits, that I’ll just pick a few to mention.

DSS: Please.

HYH: When companies begin and start executing authentic and successful DI programs. First of all, it really helps their financial performance.

DSS: Ohh wow.

HYH: So it’s been shown statistically that companies that have authentic and inclusive and diverse organizations develop more innovative thoughts and diversity of thought leads to higher revenues and higher profitability. So that’s one benefit. Additionally, when you have a diverse team, you’re really able to understand diverse communities to serve them better with your products. And so most companies that have real diverse teams are able to expand their revenues and expand their customer base by understanding the needs of more people.

DSS: Wow, yes.

HYH: Additionally, I would say though that perhaps the most important really are the people and the culture benefits. Employers are able now to attract better talent because people want to work for diverse and inclusive employers and that becomes one of the their priorities in selecting whom to work for.

DSS: Sure.Yeah.

HYH: And finally on one of the other benefits is that companies are able to retain that top talent by having inclusive cultures that really welcome diversity of thought and experience.

DSS: So many incredible benefits. That is so wonderful. Well Doctor, I want to ask you what differences have you seen after being a part of Colorado inclusive economy? Have you seen things blossom flourish from this you know I think.

JAD: That Helen’s mention of March of 2020 isn’t an accident. I mean, you may remember at that time, not only were we working through this pandemic and the early parts of it and trying to figure all that out, but then shortly thereafter, Mr. George Floyd was killed.

DSS: Yes.

JAD: And there was an opening of eyes in a very different sort of way and actually in multiple ways. And so interestingly, even at our hospital at Craig Hospital over these last couple of years, I’ve seen in our new employee orientations, for example, far more people of color than certainly was there when I started four years ago. I think we’re seeing this across the state and certainly in this Front Range where we’re starting this work. You know the other thing that I say that I’ve seen is this notion that we have been wasting talent in this state and frankly in this country. But in terms of where our work is focused and I think about the fact that Colorado is the 12th most post prosperous state economically in the nation and yet people of color in terms of the opportunities that are a bit we’re sitting at 37th. So there are people who are left out of this, which doesn’t help communities, certainly doesn’t help individuals. And if there is a group of stakeholders who can help solve this problem, it is employers. So what I’ve seen is this sort of willingness and eagerness from the 130 and growing number of employers who are saying, let’s figure this out, we’re wasting talent and we need to be a better reflection of those we serve.

DSS: Well, ladies, the work that you both are doing is so incredible. I want to give people information in case they want to reach out and. And be a part of what you guys are doing here so you can actually join the CEO led movement to help promote more diversity, equity inclusion guys. You can become a member or make a donation today. What an incredible way to give back and to make sure that there is more inclusion in our community. For more information you can head to inclusiveeconomy.US.