Many large companies have begun to recognize the Importance of having-a diverse and inclusive staff. There have been departments dedicated solely to diversity and inclusion (D&I), and large-scale D&I training programs have been implemented in hopes of preventing sexist, homophobic, and racist incidents (ahem, Starbucks). While these corporations have the disposable income and manpower to execute these changes, many midsized companies and small businesses don’t. In addition, to the lack of diversity in executive positions of large companies, many minorities do not have access to the resources needed to start a business. This creates a cycle of a lack of opportunity for diverse people to hold executive positions, while also making it extremely difficult for these people to receive the resources they need to fill those positions.
However, to help bridge this gap, a few southeastern cities have created programs to target minorities and provide the resources they may need to successfully start a business. The City of Charlotte in North Carolina has created the Charlotte Business INClusion Program (CBI) to contract women and minority owned businesses to complete work for the City. In 2012, women made up fifty-two percent of the population, but only owned thirty-nine percent of-all small businesses. In addition, women- and minority-owned businesses only received twenty percent of-all available contracting dollars during the 2016-2017 fiscal year.
After completing a study of the disparity between Businesses in the area, the City completed in-depth interviews to determine how the local government could best support the needs of these small businesses. With the City acknowledging the disparity between the population and business owners in the city and actively working to bridge this gap, it sets a precedent for other cities and companies to improve their policies and welcome a more diverse workforce.
Decatur, Georgia is one of these cities and was recently referred to as “a model of inclusion, diversity, [and] citizen engagement” by the National League of Cities. Located about twenty minutes outside of Atlanta, Decatur officials launched the Better Together Initiative in 2015. In addition to focusing on diverse business opportunities, the Better Together Initiative works to create an inclusive city environment that fosters Equality and understanding. Creating a welcoming business environment begins with educating people outside of the workplace, and this initiative is building bridges across racial, economic, gender, and religious boundaries to better all those who live in the city.
As a champion of diversity and inclusion, Mamizi strives to participate in this exchange of ideas and resources to better the community, the workplace, and each individual. These cities’ acknowledgments of the need for inclusive environments is a step in the right direction. Change cannot come without education and participation, and the programs highlighted here are prime examples of how compassion and understanding can positively impact the world around us.