Business Diversity

Acting Collectively, Thinking Differently: 
Chicago companies can direct more of their expenditures toward local, diverse businesses.

Every year, Chicago’s business community purchases tens of billions of dollars in goods and services.

Our business diversity effort seeks to encourage companies to direct more of those purchases to other Chicago-based businesses, with particular focus on black- and brown-owned businesses on Chicago’s South and West Sides.

Our initial focus is on the foodservice sector, which is a large source of employment and wealth creation in many of Chicago’s South and West side neighborhoods. Yet food service spend has often been overlooked from a diversity perspective because it is typically a low-cost category. We are forming a working group to pilot driving more corporate foodservice spend to local minority restauranteurs. Contact us to learn more.

An intentional focus on business diversity will keep revenue in our local economy, generating growth, jobs, and wealth in communities that have historically not benefitted from Chicago’s robust economy.

Chicago’s thriving professional services sector should better reflect the diversity of our city.

Chicagoland businesses spend billions of dollars with professional services, including audit and accounting, advertising, and marketing, consulting, financial services, HR services, insurance brokerage, IT consulting, and legal services.  Companies often select professional services firms based on prior experiences, high-profile client references, or personal networks – factors that can inadvertently perpetuate the exclusion of local minority-owned firms.  And many non-minority providers have not moved swiftly enough to diversify their client service teams.

The Civic Committee is leading this important work to encourage companies to include local, minority-owned firms in their considered set, ensure professional services firms have diverse representation in all levels of the organization, and recognize and address potential unintended biases in their partner selection processes.

The University of Chicago and Chicago-based Exelon are widely recognized for having comprehensive business diversity programs, focusing on minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses. Read our brief case studies here (The University of Chicago and Exelon).

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