Diversity in ECI

At first, East Central Indiana looks pretty homogenous. It’s a by-product of our location (the Midwest) and a fair amount of seclusion – the coasts see a far greater proportion of diversity simply due to the industries located there and a legacy of immigration and migration. We’re not going to lie to you: East Central Indiana is not the most diverse place, but that’s changing and we hope you take a chance on us and help us become a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive region.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Let’s get a few concepts outlined before dive into how it applies to ECI. We’re taking these definitions right from the DEI Extension site because they summarized it so well and we want to give credit to the people who have put in the work to get it right. We’re also following up each section with some questions we ask ourselves at Forge ECI to ensure we’re doing our part. We take a very broad view of diversity and we value the unique perspectives that adhering to these principles brings us in East Central Indiana.

Diversity is the presence of differences that may include race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, language, (dis)ability, age, religious commitment, or political perspective. Populations that have been -and remain- underrepresented among practitioners in the field and marginalized in the broader society.

“Who is missing from the table – and why don’t they feel comfortable joining us? Are we functioning in an echo chamber or are we actively looking for diverse perspectives?”

Forge Your Path

Equity is promoting justice, impartiality and fairness within the procedures, processes, and distribution of resources by institutions or systems. Tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities within our society.

“It’s not just about everybody getting the same access to the same things, but ‘do people have what they need to succeed?’ Are we promoting justice in East Central Indiana?”

Forge Your Path

Inclusion is an outcome to ensure those that are diverse actually feel and/or are welcomed.  Inclusion outcomes are met when you, your institution, and your program are truly inviting to all.  To the degree to which diverse individuals are able to participate fully in the decision-making processes and development opportunities within an organization or group.

“You hear about ‘Hoosier Hospitality,’ but are our institutions, ways of doing business, and our communities welcoming to all?”

Forge Your Path

Our stance at Forge ECI is that we make efforts to include a variety of voices, promote the incredible work of those within our region, and always ask what we could be doing better to make East Central Indiana a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive place for people to call home.

Guiding Pillars for DEI

We find it helpful to consider Peter Down’s 7 Pillars of Inclusion when we examine our progress in East Central Indiana and how we plan to improve.

  • Access: Is this a welcoming environment to all?
  • Attitude: Are people willing to embrace DEI and take meaningful action?
  • Choice: Do people have options here?
  • Partnerships: Are we forging meaningful connections?
  • Communication: Do people know about their options?
  • Policy: Are organizations committing to and taking action for inclusion?
  • Opportunities: What options would people like to actually have that are truly accessible to them?

These 7 Pillars impact the job opportunities available in a community, the educational choices students have, housing options for families, and more. We’re by no means saying the work is complete in East Central Indiana, but the work has begun.

What We’re Doing Now

We know that Pride Parades and a few token “inclusive” elements don’t equal true diversity, equity, and inclusion, but we believe that they are signs of more changes to come that signal a better future for everyone in East Central Indiana. It’s going to take more work. It’s going to take communities willing to step out of their comfort zones. And it’s going to take people who don’t fit the mold taking a chance on East Central Indiana and helping us break the mold.

This isn’t a conclusive list, but more of a sampling of things we’re proud to see happening in East Central Indiana. We’ll continue to add events, organizations, and movements to this list and watch it grow.