“We need diversity of thought in the world to face the new challenges.”
While they don’t always think of themselves as professional services firms, economic development organizations are exactly that. I would argue they are similar to accounting and law firms in many ways, and they are much like small consulting firms. Just as professional service firms need to build their staff and expertise to mirror their clients, so do economic development groups.
This can take many forms. You must have the skills necessary to provide what clients are demanding. If your clients are global, you need a staff with global fluency and international skills. If your clients are focused on technology, you many need to consider recruiting someone from the tech community to join your staff.
You also need to reflect the increasing diversity of your clients in your own team’s race, gender and age. Economic development groups can take a page from the book of large professional service firms – for example, EY, Deloitte, McKinsey, PwC and KPMG – who commit to diversity and inclusion. I suspect they are not just trying to mirror their clients, but they are aiming to lead them. Data shows the growing diversity of executives and decision makers, so it is a good bet that the more diverse you are now, the more effective your team will be as both the business world and your community change over time.
In some cases this will take a long time. For others, it is a reminder to analyze the issues of greatest concern for your clients and the backgrounds of those that you are there to serve.