The Short-Term and Long-Term Goals of the Alliance
Multiple studies show that DEI-related strategies spur economic development while homogeneity slows economic growth. Neighboring regions in the southeast that have experienced economic growth also have significantly greater percentages of diversity. For example, Asheville, North Carolina’s minority population is at 22.1%. And, Greenville, South Carolina has a minority population of 32.7%. Johnson City, Tennessee has a minority population of 17.8%, while Bristol, TN and Kingsport, TN are at 9.1% and 10.1% respectively.
The Alliance’s provision of DEI-related technical assistance to “regional enterprises” will bring short-term and long-term impact to the region. In the short-term, the Alliance’s activities will create and build momentum for DEI throughout the region. Long-term, the Alliance’s activities will result in a transformative environment that will allow northeast Tennessee to thrive economically.
History and General Description of the Alliance
The Alliance began informally in 2015 as an effort to bring together people from throughout the region who are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion to discuss strategies for affecting meaningful change in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. Together we found that major employers in our region genuinely desire to recruit and retain a more diverse workforce, but they need a regional culture that is welcoming in order to succeed. And, that we need diverse populations in our region who are welcome and who find opportunities to thrive here. Our purpose is to create the synergy and concerted effort needed to bring these ideals to reality.
We intend to build regional awareness and understanding of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for all persons within Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. The Alliance focuses on enterprises who interface with the community in many dimensions so that they respond constructively to the opportunity to adjust how we think of ourselves as inclusive and create opportunities for diverse populations native to our region as well as recruiting and retaining talent from outside the area. The influence of leading enterprises will lead to a change in how others think of our region. As such, northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia will become recognized as a magnet for a population influx and greater prosperity for all.
We also plan to send press releases and are available for TV and radio interviews. We intend to create PSAs to elevate our message. Many community organizations have sought out our Board members to speak about diversity, equity, and inclusion. These organizations include, but are not limited to, Leadership Tennessee, the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce, Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, and local municipal and industry leaders. Our effort is a grassroots movement that engages a broad-range of community members who are passionate about our cause, of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds.
Inter-organizational community efforts
DEI’s primary purpose is partnership and collaboration to weave diversity, equity, and inclusion thinking throughout organizations, throughout our region. We actively collaborate for the advancement of DEI with TriPride, HOPE, regional corporate Employee Resource Groups, (ERGs), and many others.