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Urban League and Centennial form partnership to increase diversity and leadership pipeline

The Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio and Centennial Talent Strategy and Executive Search are partnering to create a leadership pipeline for African-Americans to ensure organizations are equitable as they can be.

Mike Sipple Jr.

“In this critical time, organizations are assessing their talent and searching for African-American talent for their boards, leadership teams, and upper management,” says Eddie Koen, President & CEO of Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio.

“Companies have expressed a desire to move beyond statements to tangible actions. There is a collective will to accelerate diversity, equity and inclusion by a comprehensive integration of black talent at all levels of the organization. We have deep roots in the African-American community and an extensive network. Partnering with a firm like Centennial, which specializes in comprehensive talent management, is a perfect relationship for this moment,” explains Koen.

Mike Sipple, Jr., President of Centennial, located in Newport, concurs, “To increase these opportunities, we must do our part to create more access and opportunity. We are speaking with leaders in our community, and relationships nationally, to seek guidance on how to do more. As a result, we have established a great partnership with the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio.”

Eddie Koen

In 2017, Centennial began proactively tracking its diversity metrics. Eighty-seven percent of all searches they lead had diverse talent pools. Centennial’s measurements found that 26 percent of their placements are leaders of color, and 40 percent are diverse candidates.

“We believe having more leaders of color in leadership positions will increase the opportunity for others. Combining the community expertise of the Urban League, with our 45 years in executive recruitment, we can accelerate the support and placement of African-American candidates. We also hope it encourages action by our industry peers and companies to do the same,” Sipple adds.

Durran Alexander

“We want the Cincinnati community-at-large to know the Urban League is committed to ensuring more African Americans are in executive levels in corporations and nonprofits in the region,” states Ashlee Young, VP of Impact at the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio. “The Urban League has access to an incredible talent pipeline from this region and 90+ affiliates across the country. Now is the time to partner with talent agencies to broker relationships and meet marketplace demand for highly-qualified African-American candidates.”

Durran Alexander, Vice President of Client Engagement at Centennial, states, “This program will allow a direct link and create a pipeline of the Urban League’s members and the clients of Centennial. We are excited to increase the opportunities to the Urban League’s network and members of the African American community as Centennial looks to do our part in making a positive difference in the diversification of executive positions.”

Ashlee Young

Research has shown that the more diverse the leadership team, the more diverse the organization. Research has also shown that diversity and inclusion create more exceptional workplaces and more successful businesses, but it takes intention.

“We know that the marketplace is ready for this type of initiative. We began these talks with the Urban League in the fall of 2019, and we know the timing is right,” says Sipple. As organizations think about concrete ways to build racial equity in their organization, it starts with assessing their boards, C-suites, and management compositions.”

“Through this partnership, we will provide opportunities for African Americans to access career and leadership pathways, heighten content and resources for career development and provide a pipeline of talent for organizations,” states Young.

To learn more about the Urban League and Centennial’s Executive Pathways Program contact Ashlee Young at 513-319-2789 or ayoung@ulgso.org.

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