Business and community leaders working to create more diverse Dubuque workforce

Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 9:17 PM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - A group of business and community leaders in Dubuque is looking to diversify the workforce by creating more opportunities for minorities and disadvantaged people.

The Business Leader Equity Cohort has spent two years meeting once a month to discuss diversity, equity, and inclusion in Dubuque organizations. Oather Taylor, a diversity consultant who came up with the idea, said they are now switching from speaking about it to acting on it.

“The goal is to understand those services, those activities that are going on that could be supported by this effort,” he explained. “And, if there are gaps and there are things that are not there that this group could champion and actually help build, we will do that as well.”

The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque serves as a house for the project and its president and CEO, Nancy Van Milligan, said they already have programs in mind that they would like to implement. Those include establishing mentorships and internships for Black and Brown children for AP and STEM courses and bringing specific populations into the workforce, like women and ex-offenders.

“So how do we create systems that are going to skill people, bring training, education, and provide opportunities for people to be successful,” she mentioned. “It is going to take all of us; it is going to take all leaders to move the needle in this issue.”

Taylor said implementing these projects would be a great deal for the Dubuque community.

“We have got employable individuals within our region that, if we can ensure that the workforce is inclusive in that group, then not only are we talking about reducing unemployment, we are talking about increasing the tax base, we are talking about people that will be able to go out and spend more money,” he said.

At the end of the day, Taylor said this is all about community.

“A lot of good people will leave a company or an organization, not necessarily because it is something that happened within the organization, it is because they cannot connect within the community; they cannot find those things that will make the community home,” he added. “So part of what we do is try to identify those particular gaps, and to make sure that people are connecting with those things that they need to make the area and the region home or to offer that as an opportunity.”

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