Why Ivy Tech is this year's Workforce Diversity Best Practices Award winner

From the speech by Jos Holman, Tippecanoe County Library Director, at the annual Greater Lafayette Commerce dinner September 27, 2011, at the Purdue Memorial Union ballrooms.

It's my pleasure to be here tonight to present the 2011 Workforce Diversity Best Practices Award, which recognizes a business that promotes the importance of diversity in ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation and age in the workplace.

Given the makeup of this audience with business owners, community leaders and decisions makers, I want to ask you four questions. Do you believe that:

  • Diversity enriches the communities in which we live and work?
  • In an inclusive work environment, people feel comfortable and respected, regardless of individual differences, talents, or personal characteristics?
  • Diversity and inclusion is a business imperative?
  • Diversity is an ethical and social responsibility that is grounded in core values of colleagues, customers, community and social capital?

So now you are asking, “what is the DRT?” The Diversity Round Table, or as it is better known “The DRT” of Greater Lafayette is a group of community members who lend their time, talents and energy to advocate for and advance diversity and inclusion efforts in the Greater Lafayette Community. Participants in the DRT strongly believe that diversity and inclusion will strengthen our community in many ways. We believe this will occur by providing leadership and promoting strategies to achieve a culture that values diversity as evidenced by attitudes, policies, and practices within Lafayette, West Lafayette, and Tippecanoe County. The DRT meets at 11:30 a.m. the first Thursday of every month at the YWCA of Greater Lafayette. The meeting ends promptly at 1:00 p.m. Our current co-Facilitators of the meeting are Barbara Clark and Clyde Hughes, who are both associated with Purdue University.

Let me tell you about a few things about the history of the DRT and what we have done in the past. The DRT officially started under the auspices of Vision 2020 back in October 2002. By April 2003, the first Diversity Summit was held with then Indiana First Lady Judy O'Bannon as the first keynote speaker. Every two years since then, we have held community summits with a focused theme. These continuing education activities provide a bi-annual opportunity for this community to come together in the name of diversity and inclusion. Also, we have hosted community forums on relevant diversity topics such as Gender Spectrum – an Educational Town meeting on Transgendered and Inter-Sex identity that was broadcast by WBAA. A forum focused on gender, age, and race specifically for the 2008 political campaigns. Another community forum broadcast by WBAA focused on community policing with local law enforcement agencies. In 2007, the DRT first printed and later updated in 2009, a Diversity Bibliography of K-12 materials that teachers could use in the classroom to raise awareness of diversity issues. Today, the DRT works with the GLC under the auspices of the Quality of Life committee. But enough about the DRT, you want to hear about this year’s winner of the Diversity Best Practices award.

Our recipient for this year’s Diversity Best Practices Award is Ivy Tech Community College of Lafayette. A few reasons for why Ivy Tech is being recognized for having best practices in diversity. A very key reason is the commitment of the Chancellor, Dr. Dave Bathe. The Chancellor created an Executive Director of Diversity position to champion the current and future efforts of the college’s Diversity Council. If any organization, agency, or company is really serious about its commitment to diversity and inclusion, that commitment has to start at the top. Thanks Dr. Bathe for making the commitment and walking the walk as opposed to just talking the talk.

Also, the establishment of the Diversity Council adds to this component. It says this effort is not going to be relegated to one individual who either succeeds or fails in this mission. No, instead, there is collaboration and coordination of diversity and inclusion activities that allow for accountability, encouragement and shared success for activities. The Council monitors and supports diversity strategies, policies, and programs to achieve a climate that reflects a respect for differences and an understanding of values to advance and strengthen the college. A few of these programs include the annual Tippecanoe County Latino Festival and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration and essay contest. In the past, the campus also hosted two half-day Latino Cultures Awareness workshops for Ivy Tech employees, city officials, and representatives from various community organizations.

Also, the college organizes an annual Diversity Training seminar for new and current employees. On the student level, a newly created Woman in Sciences and Technology student group is involved in campus and community initiatives that meet the interest of female students.

Finally, I would like to mention that the Diversity Council started a Diversity Awareness Initiative to encourage all Ivy Tech staff and faculty to participate in diversity related workshops, seminars, luncheons and speaker events throughout the local area. Because of a desire to help prepare students to work and live in a diverse community, the College recognizes that increasing employee understanding of diversity and inclusion at Ivy Tech and in the community is vital to transmitting that specific value to the students. Since 2010, over 200 hours of diversity related trainings and events have been completed and attended by faculty and staff.

All of these efforts show that Ivy Tech Community College of Lafayette is committed to diversity and inclusion. They are working hard toward success in this area and have allocated the college’s resources, including human capital and real dollars, to diversity and inclusion efforts.

Ivy Tech has shown its commitment of promoting an environment of inclusion; one in which each individual is valued and every voice is heard. Ivy Tech is recognizing and acknowledging the dimensions of diversity which is essential to success for the students, the faculty, and the college.

The Diversity Round Table and the Greater Lafayette Commerce salute you for the establishment of best practices in diversity. We proudly award you the 2011 Diversity Best Practices award and encourage you to continue in your commitment to diversity and inclusion.