Diversity, which includes differences in race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, language, geography, gender, and more, is crucial to the US, as the US was founded on the idea that all people are created equal. In addition, diversity provides new ideas, experiences, and perspectives, and people can learn from each other.
From a business and organizational perspective, diversity leads to better problem-solving due to having different ideas, resulting in better business decisions and higher-performing outcomes. Josh Bersin of Forbes states, “Companies that embrace diversity and inclusion in all aspects of their business statistically outperform their peers.” In addition, companies with a diverse workforce are 35% more likely to achieve more financial gains than those without a diverse workforce.
Immigrants are a big piece of the diversity pie. Supporting immigrants is important for humanity, supporting our economy, and foundational to our country. Immigrants contribute to our economy in many ways, including labor force, business, and population growth. Some cities in the US are making strides in making diversity, and immigration specifically, a part of the way they operate. We’ll look at some things that the city of Cleveland, Ohio is doing to promote diversity and ways in which organizations can expand and improve language access as support for immigrants.
Some of the Many Ways that Immigrants Contribute to Our Economy
Immigrants contribute to local economies in a variety of ways; these are just some of the many ways.
- Labor force – Immigrants work in a variety of positions, including essential jobs that may be experiencing labor shortages like farming, fishing, and forestry; building and grounds cleaning; hotel workers; and home health care.
- Business – Highly skilled workers are in demand. Immigrants of Cleveland were found to be, “far more likely than their native-born neighbors to be entrepreneurs, and to work in professional, scientific, technical, healthcare, and manufacturing.” In addition, immigrants or their children have founded 45% of US fortune 500 companies.
- Future population growth – Populations can decline as residents age or move away, and immigrant migration can lead to future population growth. For example, international migration in Minnesota has helped offset the loss of residents moving to other states. Without immigrants, Minnesota’s overall population would have started to decline in 2001.
- Taxes – Immigrants pay their share of taxes that fund needed community benefits. A study found that Minnesota immigrants’ contributions cover 93% of their publicly provided benefits, while natives’ contributions cover only 77% of their benefits.
- Innovation –Innovation is a key factor in generating improvements in living standards. According to a report, “A 1 percentage point increase in the population of immigrant college graduates increases patents per capita by 9 percent to 18 percent.”
Supporting Immigrants: Ways in Which the City of Cleveland, Ohio Is Embracing Diversity
The city of Cleveland is working towards diversity through many actions. Here are some ways in which the city is working towards diversity.
Cleveland, Ohio is one of the over 300 non-profits and local governments that have partnered with Welcoming Network, “a network and a movement driven by the conviction that communities make better decisions when residents of all backgrounds, identities, and perspectives are meaningfully engaged.”
Have key influencers and stakeholders get involved with non-profits, committees, boards or other initiatives to inspire and encourage diversity. For example, three Cleveland representatives out of a nationwide board of 23 individuals are on the Board of Directors for non-profit Creating Healthier Communities: Kevin Clayton, the Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement for the Cleveland Cavaliers; Alan Nevel, SVP of Metro Health System; and COO Teleange Thomas of JumpStart.
Identify and Apply for Grants that Promote Equity
Look for grants that promote equity in Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) among immigrant populations. For example, in Cuyahoga County, the Beulah Park-Euclid Beach Connector Trail will be built thanks to funds from the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) program. The trail will be built along the lakefront of Lake Erie for nearly half a mile to provide a trail for underserved communities. This funding from the ORLP program will continue to expand our communities’ connections to urban green spaces, where children can play, families can connect, and a love and appreciation for the outdoors can be nurtured.”
Capture and Promote Immigrant Experiences Locally
Cleveland has a program called Landed: Stories of Newcomers that captures the stories of immigrants, first-generation Americans, and other newcomers living in Northeast Ohio to try to mend the divide between people in the community. It showcases people from other countries through a podcast where they talk about their experiences.
Use Interagency Resources
The Cleveland Language Access Service (LAP) Plan, which is a plan to ensure equal and effective access to city services for Limited English Proficient residents, followed other successful city LAPs. These LAPs included Minneapolis’ Minneapolis in Any Language guide, Chicago’s Bridge the Language Gap guide, and other resources such as www.lep.gov. These cities have invested a lot into language services and realized the benefits.
Ways to Expand and Improve Language Access as Support for Immigrants
Language access is one of the important things you can provide to immigrants to promote equity. And while language access is a cost, it’s also an investment in your local economy. In working with a language service provider, you can strategize how to maximize the process. To expand and improve language access, consider the following ideas.
- Apply for grants – Some grants will support the funds for language access. For example, since 2006, the State Justice Institute (SJI) has issued almost 3 million in grants for language access.
- Incorporate translations into diversity-fed projects – For example, with the Beulah Park-Euclid Beach in Cleveland, attention should be given to the information that the park will provide, so that it doesn’t just provide a new trail, but also translations of park signage, website content, trail maps, etc.
- Localize content for specific communities – Leverage local partnerships, organizations, and non-profits to create a quality assessment process for content that is highly localized and leverages local dialects – to go beyond broad language translations.
- Hire bilingual employees strategically – Hiring bilingual employees is crucial, but it can be difficult to know how well the person speaks another language if you don’t also speak it. Investing in the upfront cost of assessing language skills will pay off over time.
- Help keep employees’ linguistic skills up-to-date- Provide bilingual employees with training and regular employee assessments.
- Do strategic outreach and marketing activities – In addition to translating materials, make a concerted effort to disseminate your materials through the appropriate local channels so they’re visible to local communities.
Supporting diversity benefits communities, businesses, and organizations. As observed through the example of Cleveland, diversity can be viewed and accomplished in many ways. To provide language access for immigrants and other limited English proficient individuals, work with a professional language service provider.
For more information about language services, contact us at [email protected] or (530) 750-2040. We’re here to support efforts to increase diversity.