Understanding, valuing, and accepting others’ differences are the goals of this program

Fifty-six people from a variety of businesses and organizations in Greater Cincinnati recently graduated from the fifth class of a program designed to bridge cultural, political, and social gaps.

The program, “Building Cultural Competence: A Program for Leaders,” is produced by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and supported by Ohio National Financial Services and Perfetti Van Melle. It’s a six-session program that the Chamber says uses cutting-edge tools and activities to help participants develop the skills to understand and work within such differences.

Applications are now open for the sixth class and are due on January 15. Apply here.

The program is designed to help organizational leaders understand the complexities of cultural differences that show up in personal and professional lives, says Amy Thompson, senior director of leadership programs at the Cincinnati Regional Chamber.

“It is our goal to equip leaders with techniques to navigate conflicting situations in a culturally competent manner,” she says.

The program facilitators used a blended learning format with virtual sessions and optional in-person sessions. The next class will be a blended learning virtual format too and will run from Feb. 10 to May 5.

Participants can improve their understanding of their own identities and increase their knowledge of differences that are viewed through race, ethnicity, and gender, the Chamber says.

Anthony Scott, a team lead at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, says the training “taught me to value other people’s stories and experiences while also taking more pride in being transparent telling mine.”

Althea Kearney, director of strategic workplace innovations at Fidelity Investments, says the course was one of the most impactful learning experiences of her career.

“Beyond humanizing the very real costs that a lack of diversity causes for an organization, this course taught me usable skills for building diversity and inclusion and a safe place in which to practice them," she says.

Dave Jenike, chief operating officer of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, says he plans to put the things he learned into action at his workplace, and his approach will be “one that starts by being more self-reflective and engages people by choice not by edict.”

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David Holthaus is an award-winning journalist and a Cincinnati native. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading, or watching classic movies.