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Diversity Professionals Group

The Commission's Diversity Professionals Group (DPG) is composed of senior-level staff from Commission-member organizations responsible for developing and implementing diversity management goals and initiatives within their organizations. 

The group holds forums for constructive problem-solving, the sharing of best practices, and networking and participating in educational programs about diversity and inclusion issues.

The Commission's partnership with DiversityInc, the leading national resource for research, best practices and information about successfully implementing and sustaining diversity management strategies in the workplace, provides DPG members with free or discounted access to a variety of national programs and speakers.

To learn more about how the Commission's Diversity Professionals Group can help your company or organization develop and/or implement strategic diversity management initiatives, please contact us at or 216.592.2213.

Highlights from Commission's 2017 annual conference: Continuing the conversation on implicit bias

The Commission on Economic Inclusion’s ninth annual Inclusion Conference held August 24th at LaCentre Conference and Banquet Facility built from last year’s conference topic of implicit bias.

About 225 representatives of Greater Cleveland Partnership member companies heard five speakers continue the conversation on bias and how it effects business outcomes.

We asked some attendees for their takeaways from the conference. Click to watch our video to find out their perspectives.

Our presenters

Above photo: Celeste Chatman (left) and Lauren Rivera

Celeste Chatman, M.A. CDR, director, talent acquisition and planning at The Urban Institute University, discussed how we take mental shortcuts to quickly process information.

Click for Celeste's slides.

Dia Harris, university relations and recruiting manager at Northrop Grumman, gave a very personal talk about how appearances are not always what they seem. Harris talked about his experiences moving from Philadelphia where he grew up, to Lewiston, Maine, to attend Bates College. He shared portions of his journal that described how he adjusted to a new cultural environment—and it to him.

Following Bates, he went to work for a company where, despite being a team leader, management sometimes would direct questions to other members of his team in meetings even when he was in attendance.

Harris took the stage in a business suit and tie but, every few minutes as he gave his talk, he would remove an article of clothing. He slowly revealed the casual garb he usually wears on the weekends or when he is not at work, prompting those in the audience to give some thought to the immediate impressions they may have formed about him if they passed him on the street before taking the time to hear his story.

Tonie Snell, CMS, CDR, DMC, founder and CEO, 360HR - Diversity Forward™ Talent Solutions, followed Harris’ presentation and discussed the difference between diversity and inclusion and why the former does not necessarily lead to the latter.

Snell, who grew up on Cleveland’s East Side, was a high school dropout with five children by the age of 21. She challenged attendees to consider what her resume would have looked like at point in her life.

She explained that diversity is being invited to the party while inclusion is being asked to dance. To move diversity forward, she said there needs to be a sense of belonging.

Click to view Tonie's presentation.

Following Snell, Petar Vujosevic, COO and co-founder, GapJumpers told the crowd that while inclusive recruiting seems like a complex problem, many solutions are quite simple.

After assuring the audience that avoiding stupidity was easier than seeking brilliance, Petar explained the logic of blind-testing employees for specific skills that will make them successful for their jobs as opposed to the standard interview process and weighing “soft skills” heavily.

Petar said that creating an appropriate and objective test then hiring the candidate who scores the highest—regardless of the impression made in their interview—will help you find the best person for the job.

He suggested that the U. S. military’s system of identifying the right skill sets in candidates and then “training them up” to round out their profile could do for corporate diversity what it has done for the military.

Click for Petar’s slides.

Lauren Rivera, associate professor of management and organizations, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, discussed cultural fit and how heavy a role it should play in hiring decisions.

Rivera suggested that hiring for cultural fit—something that 82 percent of managers worldwide say is an important quality—inhibits diversity.

Additionally, cultural fit is a concept that not many organizations understand, and even fewer know how to measure. In many cases, where cultural fit is considered, it becomes a social measure instead of being related to job performance.

This can lead to managers hiring people like themselves—and therefore working against diversity efforts.

Above photo: Petar Vujosevic (left) and Dia Harris

Breakout Sessions

In the afternoon, attendees attended two of three breakout sessions for deeper discussions with the presenters.

Building Transformational Inclusion – Tonie Snell

A standing-room-only crowd participated in Snell’s session on fostering transformational inclusion.

Starting with Accenture’s recently released video on inclusion, she engaged the group in a candid discussion on how to go beyond diversity to developing an inclusive workplace where employees are engaged, empowered, and have a sense of belonging.

Snell elaborated on the concept of cultural aspiration that challenges the commonly held tenet of HR professionals: cultural fit.

She explained how having an aspirational culture is about finding candidates who will add to an organization’s culture, add a new personality and perspective and not simply “fit in” with the current organizational culture.

An aspirational culture is also about encouraging employee professional development and promoting growth opportunities. Click for Tonie's "next steps" information.

Are You Leaving Talent on the Table? De-Biasing Personnel Decisions – Lauren Rivera

Lauren Rivera’s interactive breakout session uncovered bias in the selection and recruiting process.

Using a variety of photos showcasing people of diverse backgrounds, Rivera asked the group to share their assumptions about the people in the photos. Exposing these seemingly “hidden” biases allowed the group to have an honest dialogue about how biases impact critical personnel decisions.

Can Talent Acquisition Make the Unconscious Conscious? – Celeste Chatman

Implicit or unconscious bias is the brain’s automatic association of stereotypes or attitudes about a particular group without our conscious awareness.

As Chatman explained, “If you have a brain, you have bias.”

This breakout session focused on what biases, whether explicit or implicit, are influenced by background, cultural environment, personal life experiences and financial status to name a few.

Interactive exercises included working with other session participants to identify three to five commonalities and brainstorm ideas in the recruitment process where implicit biases can be mitigated.

Join DPG

To learn more about how the Commission's Diversity Professionals Group can help your company or organization develop and/or implement strategic diversity management initiatives, please contact us at or 216.592.2213.