Delving into diversity: We must all do more

From the pages of In Business magazine.

If you happened to pick up the March issue of In Business magazine, you had a chance to read about another amazing group of 40 Under 40 honorees who have already accomplished so much in their careers and will continue to lead this business community in the decades to come. However, one thing that was noticeably missing from this group was racial diversity.

Now, we do not accept photos of applicants during the 40 Under 40 nomination process, so we have no way of knowing how diverse each year’s class is until the members are officially selected and we gather them together for a photo shoot (or, as we did this year, collect their “selfies”). We simply select the 40 individuals whom we feel have the most impressive list of accomplishments — both in their workplaces and the community. However, you can usually get a sense of how diverse the group is just by reading about some of the organizations the applicants are investing their time in outside of the office, and even though we received a record number of applications this year (more than 200), I think it is pretty safe to say that there was not a lot of racial diversity among our 40 Under 40 hopefuls.

This is a problem! Not only for In Business magazine, but also for the Madison business community.

There are certainly bigger racial-inequality issues that continue to plague Madison; however, I do want to address this issue from the standpoint of In Business magazine. Simply put, we as an organization need to do a much better job of reaching out to minority-owned businesses to make sure that we are becoming a voice for the issues that these and all companies face on a daily basis, as well as a resource that can highlight many of their success stories and accomplishments.

We have always strived for diversity in all of our products, but I think we’ve been too content to sit back and hope that minority-owned businesses would reach out to us. In reality, we probably have not created products that minority business owners feel comfortable engaging with. So I do believe it is on us to open more of those doors to create products that all businesses want to connect with and feel comfortable connecting with.

(Continued)

Over the past year, we have been reaching out to the Black and Latino Chambers of Commerce and partnering on some programs with both of these organizations. I hope we can open up more meaningful conversations with other minority business groups as well in the coming year.

Of course, this is a two-way street, so I do encourage minority-owned businesses to reach out to our editorial team and share their stories with us. We’d love to hear about minority-owned startup companies (new in the past five years), success stories, and challenges facing your companies, and we certainly encourage minority participation in all of our programs, including the 40 Under 40, Executive of the Year, the online Professional Directory, etc. We want In Business to be a publication that showcases the rich diversity that makes up this local business community, and more importantly, one that professionals of all races and ethnicities can be proud of.

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