Detroit Regional Chamber > Mackinac Policy Conference > Workforce Equity: A Three-Pronged Benefit for Economy, Business, and People

Workforce Equity: A Three-Pronged Benefit for Economy, Business, and People

June 2, 2022

Key Takeaways:

  • A diverse and equitable workforce is important for Michigan’s vitality and economic success.
  • Only 8% of jobs in the region require no formal education to pay a middle-class income.
  • Students enrolled in college that graduated from high-poverty high schools have fallen from 55% to 45% since 2020.
  • Adult graduation rates have decreased 24% over the past five years.
  • Investing in youth and the education system is one investment employers can make today to help get Michigan back on track.
  • Diversity and inclusion efforts shouldn’t be a separate initiative, it should be built into organizational strategy and feature hiring practices, trainings, and benefits.

The panel was moderated by Jason Tinsley, Michigan market president, JPMorgan Private Wealth Management and consisted of panelists Garlin Gilchrist II, lieutenant Governor, state of Michigan, Tammy Golden, executive director, diversity, equity, and inclusion, General Motors, and Dana Williams, chief strategy officer, Detroit at Work.

To enhance Michigan’s competitive edge, a stronger effort toward an equitable and diverse workforce is critical. A diverse and equitable workforce is important for Michigan’s vitality and economic success. Williams pointed to workforce diversity and equity as a three-pronged benefit for the economy, businesses, and people.

“Equity leads to economic growth, which leads to health and wellness,” said Golden. Challenges to closing Michigan’s equity gap include education and awareness to existing opportunities.

General Motors is traveling thoughtfully down this path by putting individuals at the center of its efforts, which includes playing a key role as a founding member of OneTen, a coalition of 60 employers that have committed to collectively hiring 1 million black talents over the next 10 years.

Governor Whitmer and her team are addressing Michigan’s equity gap by focusing on widening the talent pool through increased investment in capital, people, and infrastructure to support small businesses. During the discussion, Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist II referenced the equation of elements that contribute to the goal of equitable workplaces, communities, and systems.

“At the State level, the Governor and I are trying to create the conditions for all the elements of that equation to be available to people, and to broaden the range of people who have the potential to be business owners,” said Gilchrist II.

“The State of Michigan is in a position to invest in communities in a way that we have not been able to do for two generations,” said Gilchrist II. We all need to be talking about that opportunity and how there is something for all of us. There’s an opportunity for everyone, every enterprise, every employee and employer in this moment right now.”

The panel also discussed how training and development programs can help prepare potential employees for available jobs because “as much as it is offering the opportunity to a person, it’s making sure they’re ready to take on that opportunity and be successful,” said Golden.

To address this, Detroit at Work is focused on The People Plan, a scalable strategy to upskill black and brown Detroiters so that they can participate in and take advantage of the economic development opportunities coming to the city. Through this plan $100 million is available to help Detroiters upskill while continuing to work and support their families by offering stipends.

“Our program offers the chance to earn while they earn,” said Williams. “You can earn a wage and have almost a guarantee of a job at the end of that training.”

The panel unanimously agreed that investing in youth and the educational system is one critical step employers can make to get Michigan back on track. Through the Caring for My Future program, 1,000 childcare facilities are planned to open across the State to expand childcare access. Childcare is a critical economic driver that brings immediate and long-term benefits, allowing parents to enter the entrepreneurial fold.

The panel concluded by addressing the employee’s need for flexibility post-pandemic. People are prioritizing flexibility over compensation and traditional benefits. Additionally, people want to work at an organization where they feel they belong. During the hiring process, businesses used to say ‘come be one of us.’

Today, employers are shifting that value proposition to “come here and you can be you, and we will give you the resources to live the life you want to live,” said Williams.

Thank you to JPMorgan Chase & Co. for hosting this session.