The most effective actions these 8 orgs have taken toward DEI
We asked our Technical.ly Ecosystem Builder organizations what DEI programs and initiatives have had the most impact in their communities.
Since 2020, many companies and organizations have made pledges and commitments related to diversity, equity and inclusion, although the effectiveness of these campaigns has varied widely.
Some of the most successful initiatives have been from groups that have established histories of investing in their tech and business ecosystems like universities, law firms, accelerator programs, economic development groups, coding bootcamps and corporate entities. Of course, these organizations’ DEI efforts didn’t begin in 2020, but the increased attention has added momentum to the cause.
Whether these programs take the shape of providing funding, business resources, mentorship or networking opportunities to entrepreneurs, or of internal education and engagement activities for employees, it’s worthwhile to share their outcomes in order to help expand and replicate their progress.
For the month of June, Technical.ly’s reporting has explored the theme of DEI Progress for our editorial calendar. For some additional perspectives, we asked our Technical.ly Ecosystem Builder companies the following question: What’s been the most effective action your org has taken regarding DEI?
Here are some replies from their teams, and if you like what you see, follow the links to companies’ Directory Pages to learn more and explore ways to connect.
“The most effective action our organization has taken regarding DEI has been the establishment of our company-wide training sessions. Our DEI Steering Committee, with representatives from all branches of the company, leads voluntary company-wide discussions twice a year. Everyone who wants to participate completes a module or reads material to prepare. Conversations have covered inclusive language, how to be an ally and how to consider a variety of identities when talking about diversity. Our DEI strategy is a work in progress, but with this approach, we have raised awareness and fostered deep thought as we strive to become a better version of ourselves.” — Marley Kropp, project coordinator and member of Arcweb’s DEI Steering Committee.
“Ballard Spahr is dedicated to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion through initiatives like the INVEST sponsorship program, which actively recruits, retains and advances talent from diverse backgrounds. INVEST pairs associates with partners for more than mentorship, offering career development opportunities, exposure to business acumen-building exercises, client networking and encouraging them to take initiative in their career growth. This commitment is founded on the firm’s belief, backed by research, that diverse teams create more innovative solutions, leading to business success for clients.” — Kimberly Klayman, partner
“DEI is critical to achieving our overall organizational mission, and we developed a 3-year internal strategic plan to provide a clear, definitive approach that aligns our overall organizational objectives with our DEI initiatives.
As part of our process, we established regular all staff DEI training programs, followed up with DEI small group staff sessions where our team shows up authentically and in safe curated spaces to further explore and support the topics addressed in the training programs.” — Bill Kiesling, chief operating officer and general counsel
“The Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce has been actively engaged in promoting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion across various sectors of the business community. Among the effective actions that the Chamber has undertaken in this regard, one stands out as particularly impactful — the organization has established a program for its members to increase their knowledge and awareness of DEI issues. Our EnrichDelaware Program is one of our nationally recognized programs. We have advocated for the state of Delaware to collect demographic information when applying for and renewing a business license. We have also been advocating for the state to create an online portal for MBE/WBE certification. And last, but not least in our major initiative, we have been advocating for Minority goals to be implemented in the state of Delaware, when it comes to procurement opportunities across all sectors. We have also created a minority supply diversity program where corporations in the state of Delaware can get more involved and provide contracting opportunities for diverse businesses.
Through our training and development programs, the Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce has equipped its members with the necessary tools and resources to identify and address gaps in diversity, equity and inclusion in their businesses and workplaces. Our programs are designed to foster a culture of openness, respect and inclusivity within the Chamber’s membership, and to ensure that all individuals have equal access to opportunities for growth and success.
Our training and development program includes a range of initiatives, such as seminars, workshops, mentoring and coaching sessions, that help members to develop their DEI knowledge and skills. The program also provides guidance on how to implement DEI policies and practices within member organizations, thereby promoting diversity, equity and inclusivity in the wider business community.
In conclusion, the Delaware Black Chamber of Commerce has demonstrated a strong commitment to advancing DEI, and its training and development program has proved to be a highly effective strategy in this regard. By empowering members with the knowledge and skills to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, the Chamber has played a key role in fostering a more inclusive and just business environment in Delaware.” — Ayanna Khan, founder, president and CEO
“Morgan Lewis knows that diversity and inclusion (D&I) is vital to realizing our true success as a firm. D&I is not only the right thing to do, but it is integral to how we succeed for clients. There are many actions that the firm has taken to be proud of including the ML Diversity Foundation Scholarship and Diversity Fellowship program for summer associates, but the launch of the firm’s Mobilizing for Equality in the somber aftermath of the murder of George Floyd stands out as a clear example of the firm’s commitment to D&I. The task force’s 12 working groups encompassing lawyers at all levels and across geographies are focused on tackling racial injustice from a unique angle and substantive racial and social justice projects.” — Brian Slough, of counsel
“Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is built into everything we do at NEXT powered by Shulman Rogers. It is part of our DNA and reflected in the inclusiveness of our team. Seventy percent (70%) of our core NEXT team are women and minorities, bringing a rich and diverse set of experiences and perspectives to the way we execute on our mission to ‘Empower Startup Success.’ This shows up in non-profit organizations we support including Street Entrepreneurs, Citrine Angels and BLCK VC. Since the launch of NEXT, we have worked with many founders who are traditionally under-represented in the startup ecosystem and partnered with them to successfully grow their startup companies.” — Anthony Millin, founder of NEXT powered by Shulman Rogers, venture capital partner and serial entrepreneur
“TEDCO is committed to creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive Maryland innovation ecosystem and continues working towards such a future, effectively doing so by remaining intentional, transparent and accountable.
We remain intentional through the creation of investment strategies that support DEI efforts. Our Social Impact Funds are an excellent example of this, supporting nearly 100 investment deals in three years with 60% of this funding reaching an entity led by a woman or person of color. Additionally, we have launched a federally funded Women Entrepreneurs Leadership Program with Maryland HBCUs while also ensuring that $10-12 million of our SSBCI allocations are supporting businesses led by someone of color, women and/or first-time fund managers.
We have been, and continue to be transparent, allowing others to see the work we’re putting in to create better data gathering for both our processes and outcomes. In addition, we remain transparent in our vendor selections that support our operations, our hiring, and the SSBCI fund manager selection. And it is through this transparency that we remain accountable, ensuring that our team holds true to our Core Values and engage our DEI initiatives statewide.” — Troy LeMaile-Stovall, TEDCO CEO
“The most effective decision we made was giving our DEI actions the time, space and attention to be infused throughout the organization. It’s not one initiative, it’s us making continual decisions and efforts together on a regular basis to effect meaningful and lasting change. These efforts have built to things like our monthly ‘Brave Space’ sessions which have been valuable for us to hear people’s stories, learn from their life experiences and how those experiences shape our organizational culture.” — Kristy Traylor, vice president of people and culture
Want to help DEI progress in your local tech community? Check out all the Technical.ly Ecosystem Builder companies here, and find out about their missions and cultures.
P.S. If you’re curious about Technical.ly’s services for your own org, find more info here and connect with us.