OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - The nonprofit Inclusive Communities is dedicated to creating spaces built on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Established in 1938, the nonprofit was first started to combat antisemitism and racism. Today, its mission remains to confront prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination, while also providing education and advocacy related to the topics of diversity and inclusion, especially in the workplace.
Inclusive Communities works with schools, community partners, and provides diversity training for many Omaha businesses.
“Diversity is getting people in the room, and that's a great thing but if you don't have equitable practices in place, they're not going to stay there,” says Tena Hahn Rodriguez, a business development manager with the organization. “People need to actually set goals. What do they want their companies to look like?”
Hahn Rodriguez says many companies are starting that dialogue, which is why their business programming continues to grow.
She says, “Our business programming has grown about 300% in the last five years. The last year alone has been really, really intense, but we are just grateful that people are finally ready to start having the conversations we've been trying to start in Omaha for the past 80 years.”
The nonprofit's 2019-2020 annual report shows it hosted more than 130 workshops for local businesses on building leadership skills and inclusive behaviors. In total, 5,568 people were served from 75 different organizations.
Hahn Rodriguez says the drive behind the increase has been workforce retention.
“Until it is more equitable in every facet, we're going to continue to lose amazing talent. Young people of color or young people, in general, are leaving our city for cities that are doing a better job when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we don't want that to happen anymore. We want the talent to stay here, and we do that by building inclusive workspaces,” says Hahn Rodriguez.
Their newest program is LeadDiversity, which launched in 2019. It’s a year-long leadership program designed to build a network of advocates dedicated to creating spaces and opportunities for diversity, equity, and inclusion in Nebraska.
Applications for the next class of LeadDiversity open up May 7th and close June 18th. Anyone is welcome to apply.