CLEVELAND (WJW) – From social and civic events to professional development, Engage Cleveland has made its mission to connect young professionals with opportunities in the city. After three years of programming, the team says people wanted something a little more.

“We always look for feedback from attendees of our events and programs of like, ‘What are we missing?’ And we realized that we were missing this DEI component,” said Ashley Basile Oeken, President of Engage Cleveland.

Wednesday, October 25, Engage Cleveland will host its inaugural Diversity Equity and Inclusion Conference at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Basile Oeken says there will be six sessions, jam-packed with Senior and Executive leaders from some of Cleveland’s top companies.

“We will start the morning with an opening session by Alan Neville, who is with MetroHealth, who oversees their DEI efforts, just kind of setting the pace as to where are we in Cleveland with D, E, and I,” said Basile Oeken.

“And when we talk about diversity at Engage Cleveland, we don’t solely focus on race. So, we will have representation from the Jewish community, from the LGBT community. We want to ensure that we’re talking about it in every way possible.”

If you read this far, you might wonder, “Is DEI still an issue?”

There’s a term for that skepticism, exhaustion, and frustration around creating more diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplaces. It’s called diversity fatigue. Engage Cleveland has a session on that, too, led by Chrishawna Cunningham, Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Union Home Mortgage.

She says DEI is about ensuring people are welcome to show up as their authentic selves in the workplace. To fight fatigue, Cunningham says companies have to revisit their why and look at all the ways that diversity can make a difference on the job.

“The different types of diversity of thought that you bring into a room, how we are inviting more opinions? How we’re adding more people to the table?” said Cunningham. “Look at the inequities that we’re closing. So many things happen behind the scenes, and look at, you know, if it’s promotions year over year, if it is your your board diversity.”

These are some of the lessons emerging leaders will bring back from a conference that sold out almost immediately, proving the need for a livestream option and the demand for professional development in the city.

“What we know is that you need to invest in employees at a young age, and you need to ensure that they’re learning different skill sets, whether those be, you know, soft skills, professional development skills, personal skills, so that they will continue in your organization, and they will thrive,” said Basile Oeken.

Registration for the livestream option of Engage Cleveland’s DEI Conference will be available through October 25.

Click here to learn more.