The following is a guest blog post authored by Scot Zellmer. Scot is one of the organizers that worked on behalf of adoption and recognition by the City of Mankato of Indigenous Peoples Day. His post speaks to the importance of ensuring our community adopts a “wide range of inclusive and affirming business practices” in order to attract and retain the talent we’ll need to fuel our economy.
“What is a trend? According to Merriam-Webster online it is “the general movement over time of a statistically detectable change or a prevailing tendency or inclination”.
Being successful in business requires an awareness of “prevailing tendencies” that are rooted in “detectable change”. As everyone knows, trends related to business can encompass such things as changing products, evolving services, and best practices of customer recruitment and retention. However, since the success of each individual business is dependent upon the success of the community at large, it is also critical to be aware of societal trends.
As reported recently in two business publications, several prevailing societal tendencies are evident in the Mankato area. According to market data reported on the City Center website, millennials are a burgeoning market segment and they are attracted to bold and successful brand identification. Additionally, as reported in Twin Cities Business Magazine, the non-white population in the Mankato area will increase by 117% in the next 11 years. These factors will result in a younger and more diverse populace seeking out those businesses who will satisfy their needs, as well as companies who can provide dynamic and satisfying employment opportunities. (According to Greater Mankato Growth’s own statistics, by 2020 the Mankato area will need 3,000 more workers to replace retiring employees and to fill new jobs!)
What are those needs? For millennials, they are often marked by progressive business plans that translate into a wide range of inclusive and affirming business practices. For members of minority groups, it is acceptance of cultural differences and honest efforts by front-line employees and management to gain and possess cultural competencies. Cultural competency is often complex and starts by having distinct knowledge of the varied needs of diverse consumers. It is then performed through actions that create an atmosphere of welcome and inclusivity.
Businesses and organizations in Mankato already have a history of adopting new competencies in light of societal changes. We need only look at the gains made by LGBTQ community members to see that by heeding the voices of everyone, Mankato as a whole becomes more successful and welcoming place to work and live.
This past June other voices were heard, and members of the City Council realized that a change needed to be made. That change was a City Council resolution recognizing the second Monday of October as Indigenous People’s Day.
This change is important for two distinct reasons. First, as a nation we rely on historical narratives to inform us and this translates into the values we embody. The narrative of Columbus being a great explorer, having “discovered” the North American continent and bringing civilization to the western hemisphere is demonstrably false. An internet search (https://www.zinnedproject.org/materials/rethinking-columbus/ ) will quickly reveal accurate information and provide motivation to reconsider this holiday. Second, to celebrate the resilience of Indigenous Peoples, along with the massive cultural, spiritual, governmental and educative contributions they have rendered to American society, is a necessity in a city that truly wants to “Lead the Way”.
So, what can organizations and businesses in Mankato do to embrace this change?
Seek out resources and opportunities to educate yourself and your employees on the reality of Columbus and the enormous historical and contemporary issues caused by his actions and the misguided celebration in his name.
Make a concerted effort to understand the histories and cultures of Indigenous Peoples, learn who they are both historically (it’s different than what you see in the movies!) and contemporarily, and on every second Monday of October commemorate Indigenous People’s Day.”
For any business or organization interested in learning more about how you can recognize and celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day, you can contact Greater Mankato Growth and we will be happy to get you connected with additional resources.