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  • Cathy O’Connor

Advancements in OKC’s diversity and inclusion

It’s encouraging to see Oklahoma City take the next steps to strengthen our diversity, equity and inclusion. I commend the city of Oklahoma City on hiring its first chief diversity and inclusion officer, who will start Feb. 1.

Shalynne Jackson, an experienced diversity and inclusion professional, will lead the execution of the city’s strategy for diversity, equity and inclusion. She will provide training, coaching, guidance and education and will implement best practices for the city of Oklahoma City. She intends to cultivate a culture that promotes authenticity, access and advancement, partnering with leaders across Oklahoma City to drive meaningful change that enriches the lives of employees and the community alike.

Jackson, an Oklahoma native, earned a master’s degree in human relations from the University of Oklahoma and worked as an independent consultant and senior labor relations manager at a major discount retailer in Arkansas and one of the largest energy midstream service providers in the U.S.

The topic is also being highlighted by a partnership formed last fall between the Urban League and the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber to encourage dialogue and engagement of the Oklahoma City business community. The focus of the partnership includes educational programming about diversity in the workplace; establishing a diversity council and business community working group; creating leadership and mentoring programs; developing an annual research publication that tracks and reports on diversity and economic equality in Oklahoma City; and launching an ongoing initiative to increase minority supplier networks and employment.

This month’s presentation, Ensuring Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Hiring Process, will be followed by other interesting topics to help managers and business owners navigate new and challenging conversations about race while also ensuring their company is offering equitable opportunities for all. Future presentations will be Feb. 23: Implementing a DEI Program for businesses of all sizes, March 23: Strategies for Increasing Minority Business Suppliers and April 27: Creating Space for Cultural Awareness. For more information, visit the Chamber website.

I encourage you to join in educational activities like these. It’s everyone’s job to ensure we make Oklahoma City stand taller in our unity and respect for each other. We gain individually and as a community by advancing cultural awareness, understanding bias and learning how to have honest conversations about race in the workplace and support minority workers, businesses and suppliers.


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