Program Helps Advance Diverse Leadership Pipeline

By eliminating racial disparities, Ohio would gain $40 billion in total income, and Mississippi, New Mexico, and Louisiana would gain $54 billion, $93 billion, and $43 billion respectively. 

Organizations that support diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) see improvements in their bottom lines, said Leon A. Jackson, chancellor of Marian University’s St. Joseph’s College, founder and CEO of The Diversity in Leadership Program, and plenary speaker at the 2023 EMBAC Conference. For example, 45 percent are more likely to report increased market share and 70 percent are more likely to capture new markets. 

Leadership helps realize DEI benefits

Leaders can reap these benefits for their organizations by providing direction, knowing and communicating a vision; by providing protection, creating psychological safety; and by providing order, or equitable goals, processes, and evaluation.

Education plays a key role in developing a diverse workforce. Underrepresented students face challenges to pursuing college degrees, including lack of financial support, he said.

As Chancellor of Marian University’s St. Joseph’s College for the last two years, Jackson has increased total enrollment more than 450 percent and raised more than $3.5 million in student scholarships and support.

A new model launches

He also developed an innovative approach to advance leaders with an emphasis on ethnic minorities and women, facilitated by the development of talent pipelines for higher education and industry.

Jackson founded The Diversity in Leadership Program, an initiative to help close educational attainment gaps, wealth gaps, skills gaps, and opportunity gaps for marginalized groups with the aim of creating more inclusive ecosystems throughout the globe.

The program launched in January 2021 with a cohort of 21 participants. In 2023, three cohorts in Indiana and one in Ohio, a total of 73 students, started the seven-month program. Students in the program – high-potential working professionals – take business courses, complete executive projects, and develop an executive mindset. 

Diversity in Leadership Program makes a difference

The Diversity in Leadership Program succeeds in its mission through its strategic partnerships. The program first formed partnerships with Butler University, Indiana University, Marian University, The University of Notre Dame, and Purdue University. Diversity in Leadership has helped partner schools increase enrollment by 30 percent, and representation as much as 75 percent, with 56 percent of those who complete the program entering graduate programs and generating more than $4.5 million for partner schools.

The program also helps its participants advance their careers: Since its founding, 84 percent of participants have received promotions, with 17 reaching executive-level positions and five moving to CEO roles.  The program helped birth 18 new businesses and supported one expansion. One participant wrote and received a $500,000 grant to create a program for a local non-profit.

The program continues to expand and grow. Its first Ohio cohort launched August 2023, in collaboration with The Ohio State University, The University of Cincinnati, and Xavier University. Other delivery partners include Case Western Reserve University and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, with more partnerships on the horizon.

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