FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) — Fort Wayne UNITED and Mayor Tom Henry announced the 2021 United Front Initiative curriculum and schedule on Tuesday. The cultural competency program seeks to foster racial equity in our city.
So far, 150 businesses and over 5,500 individuals have gotten involved.
Participants will receive access to 60 to 90-minute educational sessions on racism every month of 2021.
Topics include implicit bias & microaggressions, individual and organizational bias, the stress of minorities, stereotype threat, imposter syndrome and privilege, power and position.
John Urbahns says Greater Fort Wayne has been a key partner and supporter of this initiative from the beginning.
“Our vice president has been involved with the committee since the start getting it going, really trying to shape what the community discussion will be, the discussion with businesses, with community members to keep this conversation going in Fort Wayne and Allen County,” Urbahns said.
Fort Wayne Fire Department Chief Eric Lahey helped with the initiative after the civil unrest that happened over the summer in response to George Floyd’s death.
He says even within the Fire Department they need to address these issues.
“We’ve known for a long time that one of the biggest problems we have in the Fire Department is that we lack diversity. I’ve been trying ever since I was named fire chief to increase the level of our diversity in the Fire Department,” Lahey said.
CEO of Fort Wayne UNITED Iric Headley says the United Front initiative aims to increase the number of Diversity and Inclusion experts inside of companies and the number of task forces around Allen County.
“We need to get companies to start doing the work on the inside and we’ll make a tremendous difference in hiring practices. We're gonna really help the employees to feel like they work for an inclusive culture to feel welcomed, to feel like they are positioned to be promoted, truly improving their quality of life,” Headley said.
The main goal of the initiative is to change the culture — more black people in positions of power, having their ideas represented and their voices heard.
Fort Wayne UNITED’s vision is for every black male in Fort Wayne to be respected and valued with an opportunity to reach their full potential.
This initiative is one way they seek to accomplish that.