Inclusion has become a popular buzzword these days. But what does it really mean, why is it important, and what can we actually do about it? Our February PubTalk aimed to cut through the jargon and vague “good intentions,” bringing uncomfortable truths about our startup community’s implicit biases to light.
Our PubTalk panel—moderated by Stephen Green of Elevate Capital and featuring Grace Andrews of Lurébel, Paige Hendrix Buckner of ClientJoy, Tory Campbell of Felton & Mary’s Artisan Foods, and Dwayne Johnson of ScaleUp Partners—emphasized that the “problem” isn’t necessarily what we think it is.
Many of us bemoan the fact that there aren’t more entrepreneurs of color or that qualified talent isn’t diverse enough. In fact, entrepreneurs of color are here in Oregon—according to the 2012 Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners, there are more than 3,000 black-owned firms and more than 12,000 Latino-owned firms in Portland alone.
So what can we do to ensure that these and other entrepreneurs of color have access to the support and resources they need to thrive? Here are three simple actions you can take today:
1. Ask what they need
It sounds simple. But whether it’s making a simple introduction or recommending a resource, you never know where you might be able to help.
2. Share their stories
As Stephen Green noted, “You can’t be who you can’t see.” One simple way to inspire more young people from all walks of life to pursue entrepreneurship is to ensure that entrepreneurs of color are visible. You don’t have to be a reporter these days to share a story—each of us has the social media outlets of our choosing at our disposal.
3. Buy their products
There’s one easy way to support entrepreneurs of color—with your wallet! A more comprehensive list of minority-owned local businesses will be forthcoming. In the meantime, may we suggest that you start by purchasing Felton & Mary’s BBQ sauces at your local New Seasons (under their branded label) or by giving a ClientJoy gift box to valued colleagues or clients?
See photos and other highlights from our February PubTalk: