TAHRA's Diversity Submission to SHRM's Enterprising Leadership Book

Initiative Title: Tulsa Area Diversity Professionals Network
Chapter Name: Tulsa Area Human Resources Association (TAHRA)
Chapter President: Julie Callahan, PHR
Web Address:
Chapter Number: 0175
State: OK
Region: Southwest Central Region
Area of Impact: Diversity
Implemented in 2008: Yes
Completed in 2008: Yes


bookcover.jpgPurpose: TAHRA expressed interest in creating an opportunity for members to broaden their knowledge of the importance of workplace diversity to the success of any company or community. As local companies struggle with constantly decreasing margins and look for ways to stand out not only to top talent but also to customers, diversity in the workplace is being recognized as a benefit that contributes to an organization’s bottom line and signals that they value their employees, customers and the communities in which they do business.

Implementation: Honestly? On a lunch break at the SHRM Diversity Conference. It goes to show that great things happen in even the simplest of settings. Tulsa Area residents Jennifer Shultz, Alan Vanderburg and Mike Harris, were discussing the merits of the conference materials and how we were going to take those back to our companies and implement/share. During the course of the conversation, the idea was born. What about those companies that could not afford to send someone to the conference? Was there a community-based organization we may be able to tap into? TAHRA immediately came to mind. After returning to Tulsa, the three met with local diversity professional and TAHRA VP of Diversity, Alison Anthony, and the program was born. TAHRA set out to provide an avenue where human resource professionals in the area could participate in no cost, interactive workshops, roundtables and seminars, teaching them the necessary skills to return to their employers and create an organizational culture that supports workforce diversity. Quarterly meetings address such items as diversity in a recession and The Color of Diversity is Green—the Impact of Diversity on the Bottm Line. It was an instant hit and the program has grown from three individuals on a break at a conference to 90 members thanks to the exposure and support from TAHRA. TAHRA has truly led the Tulsa area on this program.

Outcome: The list of the companies participating is as diverse as those people representing the companies. TAHRA and non-TAHRA members were given opportunities to participate. Building a truly effective diversity program requires a comprehensive, long-term commitment from an entire community. TAHRA has taken a stance that as a community, we must continue our momentum because diversity is not just an organizational buzzword; it will be what sets us apart from other communities. TAHRA further exhibits that diversity must be a focused and transparent process—not something that is limited only to those able to afford membership, further perpetuating socioeconomic constraints. TAHRA is building a better tomorrow, not only for our community but all of those within. The effect has been wide reaching, from the “I finally get it” to “my program was officially approved today.” The network is peppered with success. We have joined entities that would generally be competing for talent or membership into a cohesive force within the community striving to build a city where workplace inclusion is not just something written in a policy but is a daily action by all citizen employees.

The program’s goals were simple, much like the concept to “educate, network and grow." The network has met quarterly for nearly two years. The members call, email and share questions, ideas, vendors and now job opportunities and speaking opportunities within the Tulsa Area; a feat in itself. It proves that businesses are taking the concept of diversity serious enough that they are now creating jobs that deal specifically with this function. As for growth; the numbers speak for themselves. We have grown from three to more than 90 strong. Meeting topics are now by request from participants and we have a waiting list of businesses willing to sponsor upcoming meetings. This entire program is of no cost to the participant!

Diversity has the ability to create challenges that hinder a productive and inclusive environment in the workplace and our communities. Determining criteria or metrics for the program is difficult because most diversity scorecards focus on the corporate effect and are not wholly applicable to this program. We use quantitative and qualitative measures will continue to measure and grow in coming years.

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