November Change Maker: Denise Reid

November Change Maker: Denise Reid

Denise Reid, Executive Director, Mosaic and Workforce, Tulsa Regional Chamber //

“Always raise your hand, and raise your voice. Even if your voice shakes and you’re scared, raise your hand and use your voice. Be true to yourself.”

What’s your advice for the next generation of city change makers?

Be very intentional in understanding the people you have at the table, and understand who is missing. Go outside of your usual sphere of influence to make sure that you capture the creative capital needed to drive your city’s success.

Also, if you are at the table and you notice representation is missing, make the reach to be inclusive. If you don’t have someone to ask, figure out how to help others grow to be able to meet that need.

Finally, be sincere about the direction that you are going and the challenges that you face within your community. Be positive in your approach. If you own where you are and what is going on, you can more forward. For instance, if you don’t know how to build capacity, recognize that, ask for help, and learn from others.

What inspires you?

Knowing there is untapped opportunity – in people, organizations, and communities. Seeing the possibility for opportunity to share and grow the talent of Tusa residents is very exciting. I see a better tomorrow, and am excited to build that opportunity with my community.

How is Mosaic tapping into this opportunity?

Mosaic, the Tulsa Regional Chamber’s diversity business council, works to build awareness about the competitive advantage of a diverse and inclusive regional business climate. Mosaic holds monthly membership meetings and provides educational programming, business resources, and an environment for honest dialogue. Our meetings are an opportunity for members to engage and share what’s happening in our community. We create an open forum to share information with the greater community and keep diversity, inclusion, equity and access at the forefront.

Mosaic focuses on the business case for diversity and inclusion and the innovation and creativity it brings to companies. Our four committees – business services, membership, communications, and legislative – provide practical resources and tools for the business community. We conduct an annual survey and use the results to recognize our region’s top inclusive workplace cultures.

Mosaic allows the Chamber to bring in stakeholders and lift up their work to increase awareness about diversity and inclusion. The group truly represents the diversity of the region, and the voices of its members influences our program of work.

In your opinion, what are the top issues facing Tulsa today?

One of the biggest issues we are facing is a talent supply challenge. At the Chamber we look to optimize our K – 12 and secondary school “supply chain,”  as well as how to up-skill our existing workforce for the 21st century.

We have a Workforce Advisory Council comprised of CEOs from the region’s top growth sectors. The Council has met for a year and provides high-level guidance on implementing the recommendations of our Workforce Analysis Project, a labor market study completed in 2014. The Council aims to build a comprehensive strategy that aligns education, business, and workforce partners with talent development efforts throughout the region.

Tulsa is also working to build the skills of emerging leaders. We need to intentionally build this capacity in order to have a strong and sustainable future.  Organizations like Tulsa’s Young Professionals and programs like Lead North have made substantial progress on this front.

Finally, the city would benefit from a more global perspective. It is easy to say we can bootstrap things, but it is also important that we are open-minded to changes occurring on a global scale. Our city must continue to be future-focused to remain globally competitive.

What are one or two projects on which you are currently working that you are most excited?

Mosaic recently recognized 55 companies as Top Inclusive Workplace Cultures at our annual Economic Inclusion Forum. We acknowledge the diversity and inclusion efforts of our companies ranging from one to 1,000+ employees. When we started this project four years ago, we recognized 21 companies. The growth of inclusive workplace cultures in our region is a testament to the work being done by the local business community.

What should we know about the your work that you haven’t yet mentioned because I didn’t ask the right question?

My work can be political and wonky.  When I came to the Chamber, I thought I knew politics – I was so wrong. Coming into a position that is essentially community organizing, I learned that I need to know who is in the room, and the nuances of talking to people without stepping on toes.

Some of my biggest opportunities have come from mistakes that I’ve made. Failure is a badge of honor in the entrepreneurial space, but we don’t always look at it that way. It’s important to keep in mind that failure isn’t a bad thing. It’s a way to learn.

What do you want to share about you?

My tough exterior hides a very soft soul. I have a tough façade, but lots of empathy for individuals and my community. I feel quite deeply about my work and my community.

My Mantra:

Focus on the greater good. It doesn’t matter if I win, it matters that we are winning.

Knowledge is power, share the wealth.

About the Author

Yes No