Charlotte has a new nonprofit group created to help local companies attract and retain diverse workers.

The Diversity Forum’s official launch will be Wednesday, May 20. The group will host a two-hour seminar entitled, “Are Your Employees Ready to Compete Globally? – How to Build and Retain a Diverse Workforce.”

Steve Partridge, the group’s interim director, said the organization is made up of volunteers, mainly from small and mid-sized companies, and receives no outside funding. The group, he said, is based on the belief that a diverse workforce is key to America’s continued economic success.

“A lot of people want to paint diversity as a black and white issue,” he said. “It’s really much broader. It’s thought, opinion, race, gender, ethnicity. It’s being adaptable in an ever-changing world.

“If you put like-minded people in a room to solve a problem, they are going to come up with an answer,” he said, “but it’s not going to be a diverse answer… You cannot market to every group the same way. The bigger companies get that.”

Partridge said diversity is especially important to Charlotte as it becomes more of an international destination for business.

Speakers for the group’s upcoming event include: Johnny Taylor Jr., president and CEO of; Kenny Colbert, president of the Employers Association; Sara Garces, CEO of Red F; Beverly Baker, shareholder and chief diversity officer of Ogletree Deakins; and Dr. Izzy Justice, CEO of EQ Mentor.

Partridge said about 72 people have registered, and the group has room for about 40 more.

When: Wednesday, May 20
Where: Marriott SouthPark
Time: 7:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Cost: $25

For more information or to register, visit

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