Investing in diversity is a modern day trend that seems to be growing everyday. Despite (or in spite of) the negative rhetoric of the lack of support man diverse ventures receive, there are many organizations looking to promote and connect diverse talent with funding opportunities. A great example of this is Andrea Hoffman’s Culture Shifting Weekend, “an invitation-only event featuring more than 125 Black institutional investors, angel investors and corporate decision makers.” The goal of the event is to generate ideas and dollars towards the support and growth of diverse organizations.
If you’re interested in learning more about the event, check out Paolo Gaudiano’s article from Forbes Magazine below. He discusses the annual two day event including corporate participants and venture capital opportunities.
While I do love the idea of the event, I do have similar critiques as I did with Tech Inclusion. For the life of me, I fail to understand why great concepts like this only promote themselves in 3 cities (New York, Silicon Valley, Boston). Many of the top speakers at the event were people of color with funds themselves, and while I understand the invitation only mantra (this conference seems to be a best practices event which needs to only include like minded individuals), I do not understand the locations. Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Oakland, Houston, Miami, and others are fantastic opportunities for diverse talent that is consistently over looked in my opinion. I believe that if we target diverse communities with these events, we will create a better platform to grow.
In Paolo’s article he speaks about the fact that, in corporate America “only four African American CEOs are at the helm of Fortune 500 companies, a number that will likely shrink to three early next year when Kenneth Chenault retires from the top post at American Express.” According to the “U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in 2015 less than 3.2% of senior executives across all industries identify as Black. This number is even lower (2.6%) in the Finance sector.” These repors are not positive however, as a community there is enough money to support one another outside of this. Again I love the idea of Culture Shifting Weekend, but I do wish they would expand to cities where it makes more sense.