Post-2020, Sheboygan County businesses strengthen their commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion – Sheboygan Press – DC Initiative on Racial Equity
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SHEBOYGAN – After former police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd in 2020, workers and consumers across the country demanded that companies step up to combat systemic racism and inequality.

In Sheboygan, government officials, schools, nonprofits and Black residents either called for or committed to supporting change in Sheboygan.

More than a year-and-a-half later, many Sheboygan County businesses and organizations are working to strengthen their commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Lakeland University recognized it stands on Indigenous land with an official plaque last year; the John Michael Kohler Arts Center transitioned one employee into a full-time diversity position a few months ago. Kohler Company, which — like other companies — says its focus on diversity work began several years ago, told the Sheboygan Press the company has “intensified” its work since 2020.

Here are some ways five Sheboygan County businesses and organizations — Kohler Company, Acuity Insurance, Rockline Industries, Lakeland University and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center — are promoting diversity, equity and inclusion at the start of 2022.

What is diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging?

Diversity, which comes in many different forms, can refer to people’s range of different identities and experiences, including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, ability and more.

For businesses and other organizations, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) practices try to ensure that people of different identities and backgrounds are treated fairly and feel comfortable, heard and valued.

“DEI comes from a place of listening and learning,” said Jamie Haack, director of DEI at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. “Listening and understanding where people are at and where they’re coming from, their value system and who they are in other areas of social identity — that’s how we can meet people where they are and provide them experiences that feel inclusive.”

Organizational leadership take on explicit DEI roles

At the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, a nonprofit visual and performing arts complex and community art center, a history of supporting diversity led to the recent creation of a formal diversity position.

“In general, the Art Center has always had a strong position on equity and valuing all aspects of a person’s being and way of thinking, and really offering different perspectives to challenge the social norms we might be used to,” Haack said.

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