Accelerate workforce diversity

Mike McCoy | CEO, NCMIC Group

The Idea: Create a workforce diversity accelerator to create access, introductions, housing, opportunity, educational advancement, cultural connections and so much more.

Our community has a reputation for solving problems through partnerships between business, government and nonprofit organizations. Central Iowa has developed a competency and an expertise for joining forces via accelerators, incubators and innovation labs. We do it in high schools (Waukee), and universities (Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center). We do it through our Global Insurance Accelerator, our technology incubators and our agriculture sector.

In short, we are very effective at organizing around crucial needs and opportunities. We bring attention, talent and capital to the point of impact. What if we added a similar degree of focus and entrepreneurial thinking to the good work already underway with workforce development?

Where to begin? We need more people in the skilled trades. We need more insurance and finance expertise. We need more health care workers. Yet, every business I speak with needs more diverse talent. What if we started there: diversity. And let’s say we started with the business community. What if we created a Greater Des Moines or Central Iowa Diversity Accelerator?

Our accelerator could create partnerships between business and diverse groups in Iowa and contiguous states. Our accelerator could match talent to internships. We could create access for interns and other participants to get introduced to key business and community leaders. Access is a big deal! The accelerator could line up inexpensive housing for interns (this actually happens today). We could partner to create diversity job fairs and physically bring in high school- and college-level talent (it has been done before).

In short, our accelerator could create access, introductions, housing, opportunity, educational advancement, cultural connections and so much more as we strive to become a top 10 city for diverse talent.

I like to think about the diversity challenge in terms of an ecosystem. If we add a talent incubator to our accelerator concept, we now have a road map for grooming and developing talent and being viewed as a key destination for aspiring diverse people.

Think about starting off each year with an incubator full of highly motivated diverse individuals. People who have been introduced to our community and business leaders across Central Iowa. Emerging leaders who have spent time across multiple companies. A group that all of Central Iowa could not only help groom, but also hire from to add to their business expertise. Now, that is a solution for diverse workforce development!

There is not a simple solution to diverse workforce development. Capturing the power and lessons learned from Central Iowa’s incubators and accelerators, however, has the real potential of moving diversity to the forefront of discussion and action. >