Equity and diversity among the keys to economic success in Utah, according to a panel

For the Beehive State to maintain its current level of economic prosperity, ensuring that people of various circumstances have the opportunity to participate in that success will be key, a panel of Utah leaders said on Wednesday.

Research by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute showed that in 2015, 79% of the population of Utah was identified as white (non-Hispanic), 14% identified as Hispanic, 2% as two races or plus, 2% as Asian, 1% as black or African-American and 1% for others, according to Natalie Gochnour, director of the Gardner Institute. Looking ahead, the state’s minority population is expected to reach 35 percent by 2060, making that population a significant part of the economic makeup, she said.

Speaking at the institute’s monthly online journalists’ breakfast on Wednesday, panelists from the state’s equitable, multicultural and business communities told Gochnour that securing opportunities for Utahns from all walks of life will be essential for the future. economic progress of the state.

“These numbers are particularly interesting because they show Utah’s appeal to various communities, which is essential in also attracting businesses and businesses that explore us as their next home port,” said Nubia Peña, Director of the Utah Multicultural Affairs Division. “It’s important to our economy because we have a fairly diverse portfolio, so as a state if we’re looking to be the type of place where people want to bring their talent here, they want to cultivate their workforce. ‘work here, so we are truly set up for a prosperous future. It is also important for us to note that as a state, if we do not develop our ability to work with diverse populations, we will not be able to retain this global talent and risk being ignored by companies. looking to hire. , promote and develop a workforce representative of their customers.

“Research shows that companies with a diverse workforce have better financial results, companies in the top quartile of sexual or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above the national median in their sector, on average, they are among the richest 30%, ”she said. “In order to compete with other states with more diverse demographics, Utah may adopt best practices in hiring, promotion and retention to attract companies looking to locate in Utah. ”

Pena said her office is poised to support these efforts through training and professional development by facilitating conversations about why diversity is important and why Utah should lead with equity, and by working to cultivate inclusive workspaces “where people feel valued, they can contribute, they are seen, they are heard and they are part of the culture.

Another panelist, Zions Bank President and CEO Scott Anderson, said the growing minority of the population will not only contribute to the diversity of the state, but also to the economic potential of businesses across the country. ‘State.

“(These) are the markets that we are looking for, they are the ones that make up our economy, and the importance of understanding the trends is to make sure that we are ready as businesses to bring all these new members into the economy.” , and that having the capacity to serve them and that we reflect what the community is, ”he said. “Anyone can agree that people should have an equal chance to prosper, and that only happens if we have an inclusive economy, because that’s what creates the opportunities to prosper.

So when you know those numbers and you see the trends, and you’re out there from a business standpoint planning that, and planning the products and services and the delivery of those to that market expanded, it makes business sense., “he added.

Emma Houston, special assistant to the vice president for equity, diversity and inclusion at the University of Utah, said an important consideration was to understand the distinct differences between these three keywords and their meanings. individual.

“Although the words are often used interchangeably, fairness can be defined as fair treatment, access, opportunity and advancement for all. Diversity is the set of ways that people differ or identify with themselves, and inclusion is the variety of people who have the power to speak up and make decisions, ”she explained. . “So when we talk about the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion, we change our perspective and we change our perspective on what it looks like.

“But the numbers indicate that changes in demographics will create opportunities for our communities to change the way we see individuals and their contributions to the communities and industries in which they live and work,” Houston said. “It (the companies) will be intentional. This is the key word. We will intend to put aside our biases and create opportunities to work with and alongside other people who have different perspectives and lived experiences.

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