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Grow Clark County: Diversity Drives Innovation

How local organizations are integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion practices into their workplace culture.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the business environment goes beyond achieving good optics, beyond team members representing varying gender, race, or ethnic backgrounds. Truly inclusive environments embrace team members who bring different life experiences and points of view, who hold different educational or socioeconomic backgrounds, political beliefs, or other attributes of distinction. As part of the Comprehensive Economic Development Plan adopted in 2018, our vision is for Clark County to be recognized as on the most inclusive, healthy, and amenity-rich communities in the county.

CREDC’s recent June Grow Clark County event hosted a panel of champions in our region who work to advance the adoption of DEI practices within their own organizations and the broader community. In doing so, these organizations are recognizing bottom line gains derived from an inspired employee base, enhanced teamwork efficiencies, and employee retention.  

The panel-moderated by Sean Moore of WorkSource included:

  • Erika Escobar Morgan, VP, People & Organization, Banfield Pet Hospital;

  • Esther Liu, Principal, LSW Architects;

  • Jorge Guzman, Co-Founder & CEO, HispanicPros; and

  • Joy Fowler, VP, Diversity & Inclusion Manager, Umpqua Bank.


Panel participants shared about specific recruitment and talent retention tactics, and how our teams can perform more optimally as we strive to establish increasingly inclusive and diverse work environments.

If you missed attending the event in-person, the following are a few of the practices and additional key takeaways outlined by our Grow series panelists that are helping them advance their – DEI efforts.


Umpqua Bank created a reference guide for hiring managers detailing how to hire diverse talent and properly customize a job description that invites a more diverse pool of applicants.  

Banfield Pet Hospital is seeing success in creating spaces for a variety of groups focused on individuals with similar interests, including (Latinx, Pride, Next Gen and Women). They also created an inclusion and diversity road map and are adjusting their job descriptions to help focus recruitment, and placing more weight on an individual’s background and range of experiences.

LSW’s approach is to create a flexible work culture that enables employees to make work and family experiences both a priority. Flexibility in work schedules at LSW has proved vital in facilitating a workplace where 47% of LSW talent is female, which is higher than national trends in the architecture industry.

HispanicPros leverages their network of over 5,000 young college-educated people of color in the Portland-Vancouver metro area, they created their own job portal after seeing a need to market job opportunities that intentionally target and engage people of color, particularly Hispanic professionals.   

Additional key takeaways

  • Comfortability –If you wait until you’re comfortable to have a conversation about diversity, you may be too late.

  • Authenticity (to your organization and your mission) — Don’t seek to implement a system for increasing diversity simply to check a box. Engage with your team members and listen to what practices align with your team values an capacity.

  • Creativity — Team collaboration among employees with different backgrounds and mindsets spurs innovation.

  • Needs of the individual — Increasing workplace diversity can naturally occur when we focus on creating an inclusive environment, where each team member feels valued and included.  

  • Leadership – As business leaders it is necessary to ‘walk the walk, not just talk the talk’.

  • Inclusivity – ‘Diversity is inviting someone to the party; and inclusion is asking that person to dance.’

  • Privilege – Don’t be afraid of the privilege you may experience, seek to use it for good.

All in all, we heard loud and clear that some tangible considerations we can enact to drive progress in DEI efforts in our own organizations are to: Evaluate the culture. Educate leadership. Engage with employees.

Presentation in Clark County

We know that our GROW event just scratched the surface of topics branching from the diversity and inclusion dialogue, and to continue the conversation we ask you to think about what steps will each of us take in our vision to find Clark County recognized as one the most inclusive, healthy, and amenity-rich communities in the country?

A special thank you to our sponsors iQ Credit Union and CoLab Coworking, and to event attendees for their investment in this important topic.

The next GROW Clark County event is coming up in November. Register for our mailing list here or follow us on FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn for more details as soon as they become available.  

Since 2015, GROW Clark County has served as a forum to showcase the broad range of businesses in the region, spotlighting the people driving innovation and empowering connections with entrepreneurs pushing the local economy forward. GROW Clark County aims to help build connections and open opportunities for the business community – from groundbreaking startups to thriving business looking to interact with other businesses and find resources that can help them achieve short and long-term business goals.

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