Large crowd people attend a sports event. Stadium. Basketball court.
Unrecognizable people raise hands in excitement during a basketball sports game inside a large basketball sports stadium. Basketball court seen below. Silhouette. Cheering fans.

How can cheering for our teams turn into cheering for each other?

Ernst & Young LLP is part of Cleveland’s history and continues to be dedicated to building its future

Clevelanders are getting back to doing the things they love. Whether it’s taking in a ballgame or enjoying a drink at one of the patios on E. 4th Street, there is a sense of making up for lost time as the city continues its recovery from the pandemic. That need to get back on track extends to the city’s efforts to reinvigorate its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

DEI is essential to creating long-term value at Ernst & Young LLP (EY US) and fulfilling the global EY organization’s purpose of building a better working world. These efforts in DEI further the firm’s business strategy and provide pathways to transformative impact, belonging and opportunity for everyone. EY US is proud that in a recent firmwide survey, 85% of respondents said they felt like they belonged to a team.

This sense of camaraderie is reflected in the EY US Cleveland office, which has 1,200 employees, says Tracy Lindberg, a partner in the Assurance Services practice at EY US. The EY organization has deep roots in Cleveland, as its predecessor firm, Ernst & Ernst, was founded in Cleveland in 1903.¹

We’re looked to as a leader. The commitment we’ve been able to make shows that we’re partnering with other organizations that feel the same way. By continuing to recruit, retain and develop underrepresented minorities, it’s just making us better. It’s giving us a more inclusive point of view, diverse experiences and thoughts on how we serve clients and how we contribute to the community.

In June 2020, there were challenges on multiple fronts throughout the world and in the US. The COVID-19 pandemic was raging, and social justice issues were in the headlines. The EY US Cleveland office set up a meeting for its Black Professional Network with the managing partners of the Cleveland and Akron offices, as well as local DEI leaders. The goal was simple: to listen.

“We wanted to hear the challenges they were facing, and they wanted us to know about those challenges,” Lindberg said. “We wanted to make that commitment from a leadership perspective to listen and respond. Based on the results from that session, we created a local anti-racism strategy. We put together a plan that had about eight workstreams, some internally focused, others external.”

Partners were aligned to lead each workstream, and an advisory committee of Black professionals in Northeast Ohio was created. The committee meets on a regular basis to maintain that dialogue.

“We’ve made a lot of progress, but we don’t feel like we’re done, and we probably never will be,” Lindberg said.

Two tangible results of these efforts are a mentorship program that pairs individuals with leaders who can share knowledge and experience from their career journey, and a community engagement budget.

“We have a group of partners who look to see if we’re spending money in the right places to meet the goals that have been set through this program,” Lindberg says. “We redirected about a third of our budget in fiscal 2021 to organizations that previously weren’t getting any funds or were getting very little. There was a focus on helping those organizations in Northeast Ohio which had set goals that aligned with EY and could really benefit from the additional support.”

Bringing diverse thinking to complex problems allows for innovation, leverages untapped talent and makes a positive impact on society. The goal is to shape a more inclusive future and create a culture that embraces all identities.

It’s now been many years since inclusion first appeared on the business agenda — and today, it’s more central than ever. More and more businesses have embraced the fundamental truth that building more inclusive organizations is the right thing — and the smart thing — to do.²

More EY Cleveland initiatives

From startups to century-old businesses, how is Cleveland innovating for the next 100 years?


Across our city, how can we bridge what divides us?


What if all doors were open to all?


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