Perspectives from the Field

Values in Action: Proactively Promoting Racial Equity

January / February 2020

This year, BWC Consulting celebrates 15 years of working to expand access to economic opportunity for underserved and underrepresented communities. As a minority-owned and led enterprise, the lack of diversity and inclusion within the economic development space remains a consistent reality in our work. The typical players, gatekeepers, and decision-makers involved in economic development tend to be white and largely male. As such, the emerging acknowledgement regarding the need for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in our field of work is important.

Meaningful progress on this front requires aligning actions with rhetoric. For BWC, a commitment to incorporate racial equity, diversity, and inclusion as core components of how we do the work has been part of our DNA from our very beginning. Simply put, we just do it and the results speak for themselves. Consider the cumulative impact highlights from 15 projects among BWC’s track record of results.

  • Nearly $250 million in financing secured and directed into initiatives that expand access to economic opportunity in underserved communities and among underrepresented groups;
  • More than 3,000 jobs created through investments into these initiatives;
  • Two-thirds of project sponsors receiving investment capital were minority and women-owned entities (MWBEs) and individuals;
  • Nearly 30% MWBE participation in these projects and over $85 million spending with minority/women business enterprise (MWBEs) participation – meaning goods and services procured from MWBE enterprises;
  • More than 40% of jobs created secured by people of color.

This is what diversity, equity, and inclusion looks like and sounds like for BWC, yet we understand that more can and needs to be done – this is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the possibilities. Our success and impact through our work did not occur by happenstance, however. We recognize and understand that driving such outcomes and impacts require deliberate attention and a commitment to “doing the work”, even if it requires disrupting the status quo. Fortunately, there is reason to be optimistic, as talented professionals of color in this space exist. One formidable barrier that must be eliminated is creating viable bridges that connect professionals of color to the myriad opportunities that exist but that are not necessarily readily accessible.

Thus, as we continue to pursue our mission, BWC will continue to proactively align our actions with our rhetoric as we pursue our mission. We don’t expect one boutique consulting firm to change an industry accustomed to the status quo. However, one key lesson learned from our 15 years in the field certain can usher in transformative change. If the goal and desire is for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in the economic development space, just do it and the results and impact will follow.

Bridget Chisholm
Founder & Managing Partner
BWC Consulting