Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

More and more businesses understand the benefits of making diversity and inclusion a priority: it’s good for the bottom line, helps employee retention, and generates innovation.

The Greater Kansas City Chamber values and promotes diversity because it enhances the business community and the economic development of the region through: increasing regional and global business development; expanded educational opportunities; and creating a robust community infrastructure that encourages all community members to make contributions using their special talents, expertise and knowledge. 

The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce values and promotes diversity and inclusion for a successful business community through:

  • ENGAGEMENT of diverse chambers and diversity and inclusion stakeholders
  • ADVOCACY of diversity and inclusion in public policy
  • IMPLEMENTATION of substantive programs that support diverse owned business owners
  • INTEGRATION of diversity and inclusion across ALL KC Chamber programs and initiatives

2017 Regional Diversity & Inclusion Survey

The KC Chamber has conducted a survey of regional companies and organizations to better understand their Diversity & Inclusion efforts and best practices. Here are the results.

Economic Impact of Immigrants

What impact do immigrants have on KC’s regional economy? The Chamber and New American Economy partnered to find out.

Top 10 Best Practices for Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace

1. Make diversity and inclusion a priority of executive leadership

Strong support from top management including the CEO and board chair (written statement of commitment) can drive the company’s diversity strategy and execution daily. Executive involvement includes active leadership in the company’s employee resource groups, service as executive chairs for diversity growth strategy teams and advisory councils, and involvement on the company’s diversity councils.

2. Include diversity and inclusion in your company’s strategic planning process, mission and vision

Make diversity and inclusion a priority by creating a strategic framework that includes diversity and inclusion in all departments and workplans. Creating a strategic plan allows the leadership team as well as employees to keep diversity and inclusion at the forefront of every initiative and program and all company processes.

3. Always require a diverse slate of candidates for every open position

How can a company ensure that it’s able to choose from such a field? For starters, it’s important to work not only with traditional recruiting firms, but also with diversity-specific recruiting companies, that can help bring you the right candidates.

4. Include diversity in your new employee orientation

Diversity and inclusion is part of the new employee orientation and follow up sessions are offered for all staff. Address the organization’s policies and procedures related to valuing and leveraging diversity to accomplish the organization’s mission and achieve its vision.

5. Provide diversity awareness training for board, staff, volunteers and members

Make diversity and inclusion training as much a part of your strategic plan as safety, sexual harassment, and wellness programs. Don’t assume that employees understand diversity and inclusion, even if they belong to a diverse population. Provide annual trainings or workshops on different topics such as implicit bias, recruitment, retaining and promotion or achieving cultural competency.

6. Advertising or marketing

Make sure photos in all publications include a culturally diverse group of people. If you are advertising to a certain market, consult with knowledgeable employees or professional firms about the market. Scan all applications to ensure that offending images are removed, and that all language is neutral.

7. Recruit thoughtfully

Cultivate relationships and recruit from institutions that typically attract a diverse student body, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI’s). Progressive-thinking or liberal arts universities also tend to attract students of different backgrounds, while internationally-focused and highly reputable academic institutions also draw a diverse group. For no-degree required positions, consult with diverse non-profit organizations or your local employment councils, churches, etc. In other words, think outside the box.

8. Support matters

Linking employees to a support network is crucial to your retention efforts. Whether it’s helping out-of-state or out-of-country workers adapt to a new region, offering tuition assistance or opportunities to pursue industry-related courses; or making benefits available such as on-site fitness facilities at work sites in more remote areas, a company can go a long way toward retaining its diverse talent if its workforce feels supported and valued.

9. Celebrate your workforce differences

Recognize and celebrate your diverse groups of employees. Whether it’s Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month or Muslim Holidays, dedicate a day of celebration by decorating a wall to signify the holiday or contributions that group has made to the United States. Be careful not to offend employees by putting up offensive images of the culture. Create a committee to research each celebration.

10. Once you have a diverse workforce, keep it

Finding the diverse talent your company needs are only part of the challenge. Retaining it is equally important. It’s important to have employee resources groups that are open to all employees, which help to organize opportunities for professional development, forge partnerships with diverse professional organizations, support community-relations efforts and enhance diversity awareness. Each group you form should have a shared mission statement, tied to your organization’s diversity strategy, as well as its own vision statement, goals, and plans of action, and each should have a significant impact on the community, giving your employees a true sense of camaraderie. 

KC Chamber’s Diverse Business Committee

The KC Chamber’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion activities are guided by its Diverse Business Committee which includes Diversity, Equity and Inclusion professionals and representatives from business, foundations, nonprofits and the community. The mission of the Diverse Business Committee is to affirm, enact and advocate for the KC Chamber’s four-pillars of diversity and inclusion throughout the Chamber and its programming. Its vision is to create an all-embracing Chamber that maximizes opportunities to develop, promote, educate and advocate on behalf of a diverse workforce and diverse owned businesses.

  • Chair, Michael Gonzales, Hallmark Cards, Inc.
  • Tahir Atwater, Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Marquita Brockman Taylor, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
  • Tricia Bushnell, Midwest Innocence Project
  • Valerie Coyazo, KCP&L
  • Mike Cubon, Ability KC
  • Gaby Flores, Children’s Mercy Hospitals
  • Carla Gibson, REACH Healthcare Foundation
  • Julie Hickman, Diversity Compliance & Testing Group, Inc.
  • Adriana Martinez, ECCO Select
  • Kirk Perucca, Kirk Perucca & Associates, Inc.
  • Roxanne Powers, Black & Veatch
  • Kendall Seal, Women’s Foundation
  • Vanessa Sims, UMB

POWER of Diversity Breakfast

The KC Chamber’s POWER of Diversity Breakfast, held in July, is the region’s premier celebration of the metro area’s culturally diverse business community, recognizing diverse workforce members and corporations that have demonstrated a commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Highlights of the event include the presentation of the Champion of Diversity Award, recognizing a regional business that has made an impactful commitment to embrace diversity in their workplace, diversity supplier partnerships, and the community. This Champion of Diversity business will be able to demonstrate their organizational practices are inclusive of all people. The Breakfast also includes presentation of ACE Awards to up-and-coming senior level managers who are advocating for expansion of their company's diversity and inclusion and/or supplier diversity efforts.

Nominations will open again for the Champion and ACE Awards in the spring. 

Resources to help

Interested in expanding your efforts in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion? Here are more best practices and advice from D&I experts and award winners

2018 Champion of Diversity: Shook, Hardy & Bacon
2018 ACE: Carla Gibson, REACH Healthcare Foundation
2018 ACE: Vanessa Sims, UMB
2018 ACE: Dr. Susan Wilson, UMKC
2018 Supplier Diversity ACE: Christine Kelly, MCC

KC Chamber Diversity & Inclusion Sponsors