Supporting entrepreneurs of color is essential to creating economic inclusion and opportunity.

Supporting entrepreneurs of color is essential to creating economic inclusion and opportunity. All people should be able to participate in the economy, and benefit from economic growth and prosperity. Thank you to the Stanford Social Innovation Review for putting the spotlight on the powerful work and investment coming out of the Surdna Foundation.

Boston awarded less than 1 percent of $664 million in government work to diverse companies in 2018

Sobering data out this week from the City of Boston on the lack of participation by diverse businesses in the tax-payer funded public contracting. $654 Million in annual spend is a powerful engine for the CIty’s diverse and a powerful opportunity to create jobs and economic opportunity for minority, women, disadvantaged, veteran-owned, lgbt, and other diverse businesses. Unlocking access to the City’s government contracting market for these diverse businesses will be an inflectional point in the City’s history.

Despite Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s promises to use more women and minority vendors, and to diversify city construction contracts, Boston awarded less than 1 percent of $664 million in government work to such companies in 2018 — the first year the city was required to report such data under a new ordinance. That amount is far below what other big cities have awarded to businesses owned by women and minorities.

Released in early May, the statistic shocked many in the business community and may force City Hall to reassess the efforts that Walsh has championed since early in his first term.

“People knew it was a low number; they just didn’t know how low it was,” said Segun Idowu, executive director of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, who has since met with city officials to brainstorm new ways to diversify city contracting.

International Woman's Day 2019:Improving female participation in work across the OECD could boost OECD GDP by US$6 trillion, while closing the gender pay gap could boost GDP by US$2 trillion.

PWC’s 2019 Women in Work Index is out with the business case for Inclusion. There is a huge prize at stake from accelerating progress: Improving female participation in work across the OECD could boost OECD GDP by US$6 trillion, while closing the gender pay gap could boost GDP by US$2 trillion.

Working women everywhere are increasingly asserting their right to be respected and treated fairly at work. However, women in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) still face significant challenges and inequalities in the workplace. The pay gap persists and women are still under-represented in corporate leadership, with women accounting for only one-in-five of board seats in the largest publicly-listed companies in the OECD. Clearly, there is still a long way to go before we can achieve a gender-equal workplace.

The Missing Million Minority-owned businesses and the Entrepreneurship Diversity Gap in the US

Kansas City’s Kaufmann Foundation has researched entrepreneurship in the US for decades.  This year’s State of Entrepreneurship details the stark realities of the systemic inequalities that exist for diverse entrepreneurs in the US.

This year, the Kauffman Institute is turning their thought leadership into action with the launch of Zero Barriers to Startup , a new, collaborative, nationwide effort to ID and address barriers to entrepreneurship faced by many diverse communities.

Says Kauffman Foundation President and CEO Wendy Guillies:

As a nation, we must re-create the conditions in which optimism can thrive. We must increase support not only for entrepreneurship, but also for the key ingredients of its success. We must remove the barriers that have been erected and develop communities that will encourage, guide, and reinforce…

Breaking down the entrenched barriers for minorities and women isn't only the right thing to do; it will add millions of jobs to our economy…

…If minorities started and owned businesses at the same rate as non-minorities do, the United States would have more than 1 million additional employer businesses and as much as an extra 9.5 million jobs in the economy…

At VeraCloud we also recognize these issues, and join in with leaders like the Kaufman Foundation who work with great purpose and intent to resolve these systemic inequalities at whatever scale is needed. At VeraCloud we also believe that fostering and enabling entrepreneurship throughout all of America’s diverse communities is the key to our long term collective economic, social, and cultural success.

  • We exist to profitably transform the way diverse entrepreneurs, their businesses and government work together in the $500+Billion government contracting marketplace.
  • We’re driven to create a more just, inclusive use of public sector funds to unlock opportunities, and sustainable job creation for certified diverse businesses.
  • We’ve built our SaaS platform to efficiently enable private contractors, governments, elected and appointed public officials, foundations, nonprofits, and philanthropies to better collaborate and tangibly advance progress on critical marketplace issues. These include diversity, access, financial inclusion, economic opportunity, and ongoing support for diverse businesses across the US. 

Reconciling history with the necessity for dismantling systemic inequality and discrimination: Yale steps up.

From Yale's President today comes this timely and critical recognition and change at the University.  

Today I write to announce that the name of (one of Yale's undergraduate colleges) Calhoun College will be changed, and that we will honor one of Yale’s most distinguished graduates, Grace Murray Hopper ’30 M.A., ’34 Ph.D., by renaming the college for her....The decision to change a college’s name is not one we take lightly, but John C. Calhoun’s legacy as a white supremacist and a national leader who passionately promoted slavery as a “positive good” fundamentally conflicts with Yale’s mission and values.
When he learned of Calhoun’s death in 1832, Benjamin Silliman Sr. 1796 B.A., 1799 M.A., professor of chemistry at Yale and the namesake of another Yale residential college, mourned the passing of his contemporary while immediately condemning his legacy:
“[Calhoun] in a great measure changed the state of opinion and the manner of speaking and writing upon this subject in the South, until we have come to present to the world the mortifying and disgraceful spectacle of a great republic—and the only real republic in the world—standing forth in vindication of slavery, without prospect of, or wish for, its extinction. If the views of Mr. Calhoun, and of those who think with him, are to prevail, slavery is to be sustained on this great continent forever.”
The recipient of Yale’s Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal, the National Medal of Technology, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, “Amazing Grace” Hopper was a visionary in the world of technology. At a time when computers were bulky machines limited to a handful of research laboratories, Hopper understood that they would one day be ubiquitous, and she dedicated her long career to ensuring they were useful, accessible, and responsive to human needs.
An extraordinary mathematician and a senior US naval officer, Grace Murray Hopper achieved eminence in fields historically dominated by men.
Today, her principal legacy is all around us—embodied in the life-enhancing technology she knew would become commonplace. Grace Murray Hopper College thus honors her spirit of innovation and public service while looking fearlessly to the future.

At VeraCloud we celebrate Yale's recognition of this early female STEM pioneer.  Our mission is to tangibly advance progress on critical marketplace issues that include diversity, access, financial inclusion, economic opportunity, and ongoing public/private sector support for all diverse populations across the US. This includes building a better future for women and girls in STEM and all industries.

Our society is inching toward a future when the phrase "you code like a girl" will be a compliment of the highest order.

But there are significant hurdles before we get there. The statistics behind women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) are still far from indicating an even playing field.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, female employees fill fewer than 25% of STEM jobs — even though they make up nearly half of the overall workforce. In the startup world, just 5% of women head up their own companies.

There is much work to be done. #BeFearless #GetInTheArena

Thank you Coca-Cola for reminding us all, as we come together at the start of the Super Bowl, of the great diversity of the people who have built our country over the last 300 years.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows worldwide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus @The Statue of Liberty

Let the word go forth from this time and place...

"Your mayor... he's a leader..." my taxi driver assured me on the way to Dublin Airport this morning.  News of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh's swift, substantive actions to protect at-risk individuals and families from the Immigration Ban had telegraphed quickly across the Atlantic and indeed around the globe:

In Boston, 48% of children have at least one parent who was born outside the United States. I identify with those kids because I was one of them. My mother and father came from Ireland to Boston looking for opportunity. They found their American Dream, and I got to live mine by becoming mayor of the city that embraced us.
My family was far from alone. In Boston, immigrants make up nearly one-third of our population. We welcome and cherish those who are fleeing persecution or simply seeking a better life. We know our success -- and our nation's success -- has always depended on the drive, talent, community and culture of newcomers.

In these uncertain times much will be said and emotions will run high, but let it be said long after all this plays out — of our leaders and of champions of diversity, access, opportunity, and inclusion everywhere — that we persisted, stayed the course, and unflinchingly supported those who needed it when and where it mattered most.  

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans--born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage--and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Resiliency, persistence, democratizing access, and dismantling systemic inequalities: tools for success from the 12th annual Massachusetts Conference for Women

The 12th annual Massachusetts Conference for Women has kicked off last night and today at the Boston Convention Center. This conference brings front and center the underlying systemic disparities around opportunities, support structures, and tools available to help girls and women to achieve economic empowerment, success, and mobility.  The data on the outcomes of these kinds of collective efforts to support women’s business initiatives (despite public, private, and non-profit sector efforts), is still far from promising, and more clearly needs to be done:

Nearly 10 million businesses in the United States are majority-owned by women, 36 percent of all firms. While that’s nothing to sneeze at, the proportion of entrepreneurs who are women actually has dropped in recent years, according to the Kauffman Index of Startup Activity. In 1997, women started nearly 44 percent of new businesses, and by 2014 that level had slipped below 37 percent.

At this Boston conference are many strong role models with invaluable experience, context, and coaching for women to address: #opportunity #access #inclusion #inequality and more. Let’s hope that the organizers put these sessions up so that more than just the 11,000 passionate individuals here can have access to them. Among the speakers who stand out: Sarah Blakely, the youngest female self-made billionaire and founder of SPANX who speaks quite powerfully about resilience, failure, the power of failure as a character builder and foundational learning tool.  (Read 10 Lessons I Learned from Sara Blakely That You Won't Hear in Business School for additional insights into the resiliency of this motivated and accomplished female entrepreneur.)