A Community Workforce Inclusion Council (CWIC) is designed as a bridge between diverse talent pools and employers who intentionally develop inclusive practices, in effect improving long-term employment outcomes.
The current labor shortage and urgency to hire has led employers to broaden their recruitment and hiring efforts to diverse talent pools. However, bringing more diverse employees into the workplace without a plan for inclusivity creates many challenges, including a potentially unwelcoming environment for diverse workers . This can result in higher turnover of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) workers, which in turn can resultin economic hardship for those workers.
Minnesota employers and communities want to cultivate welcoming conditions and local and regional CWICs can help do this.
CWICs bring together a diverse group of community members who provide feedback to area employers as they develop inclusive workforce practices. Applications for the I-WE designation are also reviewed by the regional CWIC for evaluation before presentation before the Local Workforce Development Board (LWDB) for approval. CWICs are in place to conduct a ‘deep dive’ with employers and provide a recommendation to the LWDBs on whether to award an employer with the I-WE designation. For this work, CWIC members are compensated for their time.
There are four criteria an employer must meet to be eligible for the I-WE designation:
- Express a public commitment to an inclusive and equitable workplace
- Assess how diversity, equity and inclusion influence the existing culture and practices
- Provide diversity, equity and inclusion training and education for leadership and/or staff
- Allocate resources to sustain an inclusive & equitable workplace
This framework sets intentionally broad guideposts for employers that are developing an inclusive workplace culture. This allows space for employers to choose specific methods or approaches to cultural development, and the CWIC to make recommend specific practices, based on an employer’s size, industry, and the communities with which they engage. An employer can engage with the CWIC at any stage, but discussions generally focus on the practices an employer aims to develop based on what it learned from the assessment and/or training and education stages.
As employers work to develop inclusive workforce practices, they receive direct feedback and recommendations from the CWIC. The inclusive workforce development that takes place as a result builds community trust and inspires further collaboration. Designated I-WE employers are then promoted as such within the communities and networks that are represented by the regional CWIC, enhancing their reputation and candidate pools. In addition, the I-WE designation will be officially acknowledged by DEED as a statewide designation and promoted through the CareerForce system.
In Northwest MN, this model has shown to improve employers’ ability to recruit and retain employees from underserved communities. This collaborative approach to inclusive workforce development gives employers the tools to manage a multi-cultural workplace, create more sustainable career tracks in the regional economy, and positively leverage the growing diversity of their workforce.