Mosaic was featured in the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executive’s fall publication, Chamber Executive. Article is below.
Reshaping Tulsa’s Mosaic
By Hannah Nequist
The need for better understanding on diversity and inclusion issues is nothing new. It’s nothing new in my community, and it’s certainly nothing new for other communities across the country,” Mike Neal, CCE, president and CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, says. For Tulsa, they can trace this need back roughly 95 years – to race riots in their prominent Greenwood District. The wounds from the violence and physical damage in what was once called “Black Wall Street” can still be felt today.
The chamber’s first formal attempt to address disparity in their region began in 1995, with the formation of their Minority Business Council. Like many similar chamber programs across the country, this group served largely as an economic development effort to encourage the formation and support of minority-owned businesses.
The program provided scholarship funds to assist growing businesses, but lacked dedicated staff support and organizational ownership. Without efforts to engage business owners beyond funding, many did not stay on with the chamber. The program therefore, was not highly effective for either members or the chamber.
A New Leader, a New Direction
The Minority Business Council trudged along until 2010 when the chamber invited one of their dynamic board members, and former chair of Tulsa’s Young Professionals group, to take the helm of the council. He said he’d do it, but only if the chamber agreed to “blow up” everything they’d been doing and start from scratch.
Also crucial to the new direction was being much more intentional and vocal about the work.
In 2011, the Tulsa Regional Chamber unveiled a new name, logo and focus for its minority business council. The newly-rebranded division would help small and minority owned companies grow and develop; it would also push the entire business community to adopt more inclusive practices and embrace the competitive advantages of diversity.
With a mission to “educate, lead and influence businesses on creating diverse and inclusive workforce cultures to enhance their competitive advantage,” Mosaic encourages organizations to focus on five key pillars:
- CEO commitment
- Diverse people practices
- Internal policies
- Community outreach
- Diverse suppliers