See What We Do

Commission on Economic Inclusion

The Commission on Economic Inclusion, a program of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, is focused on creating positive, measurable outcomes leading to:

  • Increases in board, senior management, workforce and supplier diversity among the more than 100 Northeast Ohio employers who are members of the Commission;

  • Increases in the total revenue, value, size, and number of employees for minority-owned businesses in our region and throughout the State of Ohio. Read more about the Commission’s member benefits and minority business resources.

Our members

Click here for the list of Northeast Ohio companies and organizations that belong to the Commission.

Commission and Northeast Ohio in national spotlight
for diversity achievements

For the fourth year in a row, ongoing diversity and inclusion efforts in our region have been featured in DiversityInc magazine. The section features the work and positive impact of the Commission in Northeast Ohio and several of its member organizations.

The Commission maintains a strategic partnership with DiversityInc to benefit the region and its constituents.

Click here to view the section.

What's new at the Commission

Learn more about our work in the February 2014 issue of The Commission Connection, our monthly publication featuring Northeast Ohio diversity and inclusion news and events. Here are a few highlights:

Message from the Co-chairs: Next steps in member recruitment

The first quarter of the year is well under way and so is the work of the Commission on Economic Inclusion.

This month we will conclude the analysis of our annual Employers Survey on Diversity (thank you for your participation). Survey participants will receive confidential scorecards and the survey report’s Executive Summary in early April.

Another action item on our agenda is to grow the Commission’s membership. We recognize that a key to our success is the engagement of a strong corporate base, and we are confident that Commission membership offers true business value through services including:

Direct access to local and national data and resources to meet an organization's diversity and inclusion goals;
Initiatives to create a competitive inclusive regional workforce
Ability to associate a member's brand with the corporate diversity and inclusion leader in Northeast Ohio.

With our 2014 goal of adding 40 new members, we are focusing on Greater Cleveland Partnership members who are not yet Commission members. We’re very pleased to welcome two companies that joined the Commission last month:


Our immediate next steps are: (1) Sending invitation letters to the first 30 member prospects in March; and (2) Presenting our annual Best-in-Class Awards in diversity and inclusion and recognizing our new members at the Greater Cleveland Partnership Annual Meeting on April 2.

As an example of the value of Commission membership as a proven and effective driver to connect diversity and inclusion with bottom-line results, we refer you to the next article written by Commission Board of Advisors member Gareth Vaughan, president, The Albert M. Higley Company.

Commission Co-chairs

Eddie Taylor                        Daniel Walsh
President                            President, Greater Cleveland Region
Taylor Oswald                     Huntington National Bank

The value of Commission membership: Connections help shape successful D&I strategies

By Gareth Vaughan, president, The Albert M. Higley Company

For me, the number one value of belonging to, and working with, the Commission is the opportunity to meet, interact with, and learn from so many high-performing business leaders. Their vision for diversity and inclusion (D&I) and their successes in implementing that vision have shaped my own strategies.

Our company has always been a place that does not discriminate and where RESPECT for others is a core value. However, if you looked around the company, this may not have been obvious.

A few years ago, in part as the result of my experiences with the Commission and other organizations in the community, I realized it is not enough to embrace everyone who walks through the door. You have to get them to the door and, in many cases, help them through it. Our assumption was that it was enough to be an “equal opportunity employer,” but the fact is that this does not build a diverse workforce. So, over the past couple of years, we have focused on:

  • Creating a culture that is enticing to all (not just white males)
  • Broadening our reach in terms of our recruitment sources
  • Actively seeking out diverse candidates and
  • Creating a paradigm shift in the company with regard to what a Higley employee looks and sounds like.

We have a lot of work to do, but some specific initiatives we have implemented, or are in the process of implementing, include:

  • Mandatory D&I training for every employee
  • Diversity goals for every project whether or not that is required by our clients
  • A Diverse Business Academy
  • D&I as a performance measure for senior leadership
  • Creation of a position “subcontractor relationship advocate” to help diverse businesses secure work and subsequently work successfully with us
  • A scholarship at Cleveland State University to encourage diverse candidates to enter our profession.

The results: Of our last nine hires, only one was a white male, and every single one was the absolute best hire. Of the additional eight hires, six are female, two are African American, and one is Hispanic. One of these hires is part of our executive leadership team.

The company looks VERY different today and the benefit has been an increase in employee morale and a huge uptick in employee engagement. When everyone looks, thinks and sounds the same, there can only be one answer to questions and problems. You are hoping and relying on that one answer to be right.

If you have 100 different answers, opinions and ideas, success is 100 times more likely.

Chief Procurement Officers hear MBE presentations;
group also shares supplier diversity best practices

The Commission on Economic Inclusion’s Chief Procurement Officers Group’s January meeting at the offices of the Greater Cleveland Partnership included presentations by four minority business enterprises (MBEs) and breakout groups focused on sharing of supplier diversity best practices.

The MBEs who presented were (left to right in photo): Mark Williams, president and CEO, Elements IV Interiors; Amelia Rodriguez, president and CEO, Vocalink; Christopher Che, president and CEO, Che International Group, LLC; and Tillie Hidalgo Lima, president and CEO, Best Upon Request.

Elements IV Interiors has a 23-year track record of success in the commercial interiors business; Vocalink is a language service provider that creates full multilingual managed solutions for its clients; Che International Group and its three subsidiary companies offer end-to-end graphic, production, print, packaging, and display solutions; and Best Upon Request is an on-site concierge services for organizations looking to improve their internal and external customer satisfaction.

The breakout sessions were in two tracks: "Formalizing your Program/How to Start Tracking your Spend" and “Best Practices to Vet Vendors/Pros and Cons of Requiring Third-Party Certification.”

The Chief Procurement Officers Group was formed to assist Commission member organizations in achieving their procurement diversity and inclusion objectives efficiently and effectively, to align the Commission’s efforts with the goals its members have been asked to achieve in this space, and to connect Commission members with MBEs that fit their needs. The next CPO meeting is Wednesday, April 16 at GCP’s offices.

MBDA Cleveland success story: RAR Contracting obtains $500K for new equipment financing

In December, the Minority Business Development Agency Business Center Cleveland assisted RAR Contracting Co., Inc. with obtaining $500,000 for new equipment financing from the First National Bank Leasing and Equipment Division of Cleveland.

The company is a participant in the “MPowered” Program, a business development collaboration between the Commission on Economic Inclusion, which operates the MBDA Business Center Cleveland, and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District. It is led by senior executives Keith Rogers, president and CEO, and James Vincent, vice president.

“The MBDA Business Center Cleveland’s advice and assistance has positioned our company for future success” says Rogers. “We look forward to continue working with our MBDA advisors to build our company’s size, scale and capacity.”

Established in 2004, RAR Contracting Co, Inc. is a provider of ready-mix concrete and aggregate materials, hauling of construction debris and equipment, concrete, asphalt, landscaping repairs and snowplow services. The company has worked as a subcontractor on several large development and infrastructure projects throughout Northeast Ohio. 

Other stories in this month's issue...

  • Diversity Survey responses due; Participants receive individual scorecards, national benchmarking data
  • Commission CEOs invited to Hall of Fame Breakfast: Eaton Chairman Alexander Cutler to host
  • Commission names director of construction diversity and inclusion; Position focuses on implementation of Community Benefits MOU
  • MBDA business adviser obtains global business certification; Credential confirms knowledge in international trade disciplines
  • News from Commission members: Play House presents production with economic inclusion theme; Diversity Center offers vendor training for Gay Games
  • Summer internship opportunity: Bar association seeks students interested in law career

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