Our Priorities

Halfway to our goal year of 2025 to make West Michigan a top 20 employment region, the board and staff evaluated focus areas, choosing two priorities to drive change: Workforce Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) and Early Literacy.  These priorities encompass several working groups, and each has identified practices that should be taken to scale.

Workforce DEI Early Literacy

Workforce DEI

To become a Top 20 region, West Michigan must attract, develop, and retain talent that is diverse. This requires employer-led strategies that include diversity, equity, and inclusion criteria. The result will be greater economic mobility and participation in the labor force.

Our Strategies 

In 2017, we designed and implemented four strategies to help West Michigan employers make measurable progress in workforce diversity and inclusion. The strategies – CEO Commitment, Benchmarking Survey, Inclusive Leadership Development events and Employer Toolkit (PIVOT) – are designed to support one another.

CEO Commitment

Visible and genuine leadership results in successful DEI efforts. CEO Commitment pledges ensure employers are taking steps to include DEI in their talent attraction, development, and advancement strategies. These pledges are powerful signals to employees and the community that these priorities are taken seriously.

Access CEO Commitment form.

Benchmarking Survey

A tool for measuring the impact of a company’s efforts, offering comparisons by industry and company size. Data collected helps provide insight into West Michigan’s growing populations of minorities in the workforce, while preserving confidential company details and scores.

Email Carly Smyly for more information about participating.

PIVOT - An Employer Toolkit

A dynamic, searchable website of leading practices and West Michigan resources for organizations of every size, segmented by categories in the Benchmarking Survey. Utilizing the Toolkit, named PIVOT, will allow employers to improve existing strategies or implement new practices to ultimately create inclusive and equitable workplaces.

Access PIVOT.

Inclusive Leadership Development Events

Inclusive Leadership Development (ILD) events for CEOs and their leadership teams offer practical methods to advance DEI efforts in hiring, retention, development, and culture. These events deliver new information from industry experts and foster a dialogue about DEI among local leaders.

View TalentFirst's upcoming events.

Is your organization ready to join our efforts?


Early Literacy

Michigan has a reading crisis and our students need us to solve it now.

Michigan’s third graders continue to fall behind in education with only 40.9% of them now capable of reading at grade level. TalentFirst remains a strong advocate on the critical importance of helping students read proficiently by third-grade. That's why we have compiled this dashboard: to help parents, school boards, policymakers, educators and community partners understand, ask questions and drive immediate solutions to this Michigan literacy crisis.  Solving this problem begins with awareness.