Why is it important for organizations to engage minority-, LGBTQ-, and women-owned businesses? How does this bolster economic opportunity for our region?
I recently was asked to participate in the CEO Access Network, a program offered by the Chamber of Commerce to match business leaders from larger organizations with CEOs of minority-, LGBTQ-, and women-owned businesses. What a privilege for me to meet this talented group of leaders in our community and to offer a small bit of advice and mentoring on scaling a growing business. It has been incredibly inspiring to see the innovation coming from these companies who do not have the benefits of a large professional network, significant capital, or a well-known brand and despite that, are thriving. I’ve spent time with my CEO mentee, Joan Francy, seeing how medical learning is being reinvented with augmented reality tools by a small, committed team in Center City and Northern Liberties. They are poised for significant growth and are just one of many women-owned businesses in the region with a similar story — started in her house with a great idea, a passion to succeed, and a lot of grit and determination.
As we consider the war for talent in our region, a real alternative for us to consider is engaging these business owners to help fuel our growth with partnered innovation and skills, and in doing so, contribute to the growth of our businesses and the overall economy. With 54% of all sales in the US attributed to small businesses (SBA, 2017), the success of these leaders means success for our region – contributing to a stronger tax base, supporting the education of our future workforce and providing another channel for entry-level and skilled jobs. We can all learn from these leaders in building diverse teams as they are doing it as a natural course of business and leading from the top – tapping into the 53% female and 65% minority population in Philadelphia. Imagine what we could do as leaders if we were accessing this rich pool of talent, which we all know is important for each of us to survive and thrive. As members of the Chamber, I encourage you to embrace these leaders who are contributing to our community in meaningful ways and to find a way to help them succeed. Their success is our region’s success.