July 03--Q: I understand you've launched a new website that connects Oklahoma businesses with diverse talent. What led you to create this site?
A: DiversityConneX.com was created as a platform to connect diverse talent who are unemployed, employed but looking, or interested in a board position with Oklahoma organizations striving for workplace diversity. Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to meet with quite a few business leaders to discuss diversity and inclusion and the common theme has been that they want and need to hire diverse people but don't know where to find the talent. We also chose to focus specifically on diverse talent because we were alarmed by the significant employment disparities that exist between diverse individuals and the mainstream community. Oklahoma boasts a 4.6 (percent) unemployment rate, which is one of the lowest in the nation, but statistics show that diverse individuals are almost twice as likely to be unemployed or underemployed versus their counterparts. With DiversityConneX.com we aim to address both of these issues by building the largest database of diverse talent in the state.
Q: Why is it important for a business to diversify their workforce?
A: The demographics of our state are changing and it greatly affects the ways companies will have to operate to sustain themselves in business. Not only does the change in demographics affect the talent pools companies recruit from, but also it impacts the customer base they want and need to attract. By striving to build a diverse workforce and create an inclusive culture, companies are proactively addressing the changing demographics and opening themselves up to receiving the best ideas, creating innovative products and connecting with a more extensive consumer base. In 2013, Oklahoma's minority buying power was estimated to be $30.9 million and is projected to reach $43.2 million by 2018, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth's The Multicultural Economy report. Just think of what 1 percent of this revenue could do for a company's bottom line.
Q: What exactly is your definition of "diverse talent?"
A: At Risha Grant LLC and DiversityConneX.com, we recognize diversity in the most inclusive way: age, gender, ethnicity, veteran status, sexual orientation, disability, thought, religion, etc. Our mission is to use DiversityConneX.com to provide visibility to diverse individuals who've been historically and recently refused, ignored or mistreated, resulting in the marginalization of qualified individuals concerning employment.
Q: What other benefits does the site offer?
A: DiversityConneX.com also includes diversity and inclusion articles, toolkits and webinars that are available to the general public. The webinars, polls, interactive "Ask the ___" series and social media pages (
Q: I understand diverse talent can fill out a free profile, but what is the cost for the member companies?
A: Yes, the profiles for our diverse candidates are free and we encourage anyone interested to visit the site and fill out their profile today. There are three membership levels for our member companies ranging from $1,500 to $5,000. We also have membership rates for nonprofits and advertising opportunities. Membership packages include access to the Business ConneX database, tickets to DiversityConneX's events, advertising space, and consulting hours from Risha Grant LLC to evaluate the company's diversisty and inclusion objectives and offer strategic solutions. Our current partners include Northwestern Mutual, Marriott,
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER