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 of Commerce 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


Ace Awards honor up and coming senior level managers who have demonstrated a commitment to Diversity and Inclusion. Read more about the Ace Award criteria below.

Ace Award nominations have closed. Look for an announcement later in June.


The KC Chamber Champion of Diversity Award recognizes a regional business or nonprofit organization that has made an impactful commitment to embracing diversity in their workplace, diversity supplier partnerships, and the community. Read more about the Champion of Diversity & Nonprofit Champion of Diversity below.

Champion of Diversity applications have closed. Look for an announcement later in June.

The KC Chamber, Welcoming America, and about 40 additional local partnering organizations have been hard at work drafting a plan that will be the framework for our future efforts in achieving designated Certified Welcoming status for the region. There is a lot of fantastic work that is already being done to make our region friendly and open to immigrants, refugees, and newcomers from other cities, states, and countries. With this Welcoming KC Plan, there will be coordinated and unified strategies with common goals. The ultimate goal, of course, is to be open and welcoming to all. (When we work together, there isn’t anything we can’t accomplish!)

Our Definition of Workforce Diversity

Celebrating similarities and embracing differences among employees in terms of cultural background, physical abilities and disabilities, race, gender, veteran status, and sexual orientation.

Ace Award Criteria

Who can be nominated

Nominees are employees of any gender, age, sexual orientation, or disability including employees or managers of any ethnic or culturally diverse community who:

  • Impact their organization’s success by directly or indirectly increasing profitability, improving efficiencies and/or reducing costs
  • Improve their workplace culture by embracing and promoting an inclusive environment, positive attitude and influence on others
  • Demonstrate leadership by upholding their organization’s core values and promoting innovation
  • Work in middle-to-senior level management or head a specific department (such as, but not limited to  accounting, marketing, production or business), or who serves as a project manager in a flat organization
  • Have some involvement in the development and/or implementation of policies, procedures and plans
  • Promote diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the organization and are an active advocate and hold themselves and others accountable for diversity and inclusion (D&I)
  • Demonstrate sustained active external leadership/involvement e.g. active role in diverse organizations, programs or initiatives locally or nationally
  • Serve as a role model, sponsor and mentor for all employees with an emphasis on their ethnic and culturally diverse employee base
  • Increases their organization's supplier diversity partnerships

Who can't be nominated

* C-Level executives may submit nominations but are not eligible to receive the award

Champion of Diversity

About Champion of Diversity & Nonprofit Champion of Diversity

The KC Chamber Champion of Diversity Award recognizes a regional business or nonprofit organization that has made an impactful commitment to embracing diversity in their workplace, diversity supplier partnerships, and the community. The KC Chamber Champion of Diversity is a business or nonprofit organization that can demonstrate adherence to practices which support the business case for workforce diversity as a strategic initiative by ensuring the diversification of staff, suppliers, and community outreach is a normal part of their organizational practice, policy, and culture. This Champion of Diversity business or nonprofit organization will be able to demonstrate their organizational practices are inclusive of all people no matter that person’s race, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital status, veteran’s status, military status, genetic information, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Employee Resource Groups

ERGs: A Strategy To Retain Your Diverse Talent

Learn more about the value that Employee Resource Groups can bring to your organization, from Christopher Madden, Young Achievers Director of YMCA of Greater Kansas City.

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 efforts.

2018 Regional Diversity & Inclusion Survey

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

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.

  • Derrick Nelson, Commerce Bank
  • Peter Barndollar, KVC Hospitals
  • Steve Downing, Telemundo
  • Jim Echols, Renaissance Management & Training Solutions
  • Fabian Gayosso, ReeceNichols Real Estate
  • Katasha Kumar, Dimensional Innovations
  • Emanuel McCrainey, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City
  • Anina Sauer, MSTS

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

2020 POWER of Diversity
2020 Ace Award Recipient Dr. Andrea Hendricks, Cerner
2020 Ace Award Recipient Fr. Justin Mathews, Reconciliation Services
2020 Ace Award Recipient Murray Woodard II, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
2020 Supplier Diversity Ace Award Recipient Jeff Blaesing, JE Dunn
2020 Champion of Diversity Truman Medical Centers/University Health
2019 Champion of Diversity Black & Veatch
2019 ACE Award Recipient Gaby Flores of Children's Mercy
2019 ACE Award Recipient Derrick Nelson of Commerce Bank
2019 ACE Award Recipient Matthew Schulte of the Kansas City Royals
2019 Supplier Diversity ACE Award Recipient Lynn Abrams of Hallmark
ERGs: A Strategy To Retain Your Diverse Talent

KC Chamber Diversity & Inclusion Sponsors

Supporting Diversity Sponsors

Bank Midwest
Bardavon Health Innovations
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP
Children’s Mercy
Enterprise Holdings
Ernst & Young
Google Fiber

H&R Block
Husch Blackwell
Kansas City University
KVC Health Systems
Lathrop GPM LLP
Lead Bank
Mazuma Credit Union
McAnany, Van Cleave & Phillips

Shook Hardy & Bacon
Southwest Airlines
The Builders' Association
The University of Kansas
The University of Kansas Health System
Turner Construction Company