Bentonville Listens, Learns and Leads in its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives.

Bentonville Listens, Learns and Leads in its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives.

(Editor's Note: Each year, Arkansas Business partners with the Arkansas Municipal League to present the Trendsetter City awards, which recognize exceptional initiatives underway in municipalities across the state. Large, medium and small-sized cities were honored in six categories: Diversity and Inclusion; Education/Workforce Development; Infrastructure and Water; Public Works/Environmental and Green Management; Technology and Security; and Tourism Development/Creative Culture. Below is one winner's story. For more, click here.) 

Diversity and Inclusion
Winner • 20,000 or Greater

Population: 56,734
Mayor: Stephanie Orman
County: Benton
Region: Northwest

Drawing a Crowd

More than 100 people applied to be on the Bentonville Together Community Task Force, with 20 chosen representatives of each residential section in the city. As of August there had been 40 city department listening sessions and more than 30 community listening sessions, with DEI training sessions for both groups.

The Challenge

In its ongoing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts that include the 2020 Bentonville Together initiative, Bentonville aimed to improve understanding of local representation, background and cultures, identify ways inclusion and equitable approaches could support the city’s community vision and provide guidance for meaningful and transformative actions with the goal of ensuring Bentonville is a city that is welcoming and inclusive to all. Bentonville wanted to better understand related issues, learn how to improve personal experiences in the community and to lead by example.

The community art project “Building Community One Piece at a Time” included puzzle pieces painted by the community and fitted together to form a mural.

The Solution

Through the three-prong LISTEN, LEARN and LEAD approach, Bentonville has employed or will employ DEI task forces, advisory boards and committees. It has held numerous community listening sessions, established common DEI definitions, collected data with more than 100 action items, established a four-objective DEI roadmap and developed the multicultural festival Bentonville Together: A Celebration of Multicultural Community. The event drew more than 5,000 attendees to take part in food, arts, music, community arts project and T-shirt contest.

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