WDM Chamber Launches DEI Committee in a Big Way
By Baillee Furst, Events & Marketing Manager
Following the death of George Floyd and protests across the country earlier this year, the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce knew it wanted to help make a positive difference in the business community of the most diverse suburb in Iowa.
In June, the WDM Chamber launched its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee chaired by attorney and local entrepreneur Angela Jackson. Meeting biweekly over Zoom, the committee quickly gained over 20 members, all with a common goal – to help support, grow, amplify and recognize West Des Moines businesses that are owned by underrepresented groups.
In America over the last 10 years minority business enterprises accounted for more than 50 percent of the two million new businesses started and created 4.7 million jobs. There are now more than four million minority-owned companies in the United States, with annual sales totaling close to $700 billion. Yet, despite that growth, there is still a disparity when it comes to access to capital, contracting opportunities and other entrepreneurial development opportunities for minority-owned firms.
The committee put together a plan, a fundraiser to promote diversity both locally and statewide while supporting as many local businesses as possible. They consulted a local artist, Shay Design Studio, to create logo for merchandise. “We Heart Diverse Iowa” and “We Heart Diverse West Des Moines” branded items are available for purchase in t-shirts, window clings, and pallet signs. The most important part of the fundraiser, 100% of the proceeds from the sale of these items will be donated to NAACP Des Moines, an equity and justice organization, and Jewels Academy, an organization that offers STEM and self-enrichment programs for underrepresented girls.
“We are so grateful to have this opportunity to support the NAACP and Jewels Academy with this new fundraiser,” said Katherine Harrington, President and CEO of the WDM Chamber, “We are encouraging individuals around the state to wear their t-shirts with pride, companies to purchase these items for their employees, and retailers to connect with us to sell these items in their stores. We are especially proud that 100% of the proceeds go to these meaningful organizations that are helping to make positive change in our state.”
The fundraiser has launched, and the committee is well on its way to reaching their goal to raise $8,500 in sales for their donation that they’re planning to give at the WDM Chamber’s first-ever Black and Brown Business Summit on April 22-23.
“The two nonprofits will receive their donations at the Black and Brown Business Summit in April 2021 which will be an opportunity for networking and education in a hybrid environment,” said Jackson. “As an executive board member, I’m very proud of the work that the DEI Committee has done to support these wonderful organizations. We are focused and committed to do great things. We are stronger together!” The purpose of the Summit is to bring together diverse audiences from across the entire state, expanding past the local region.
We Heart Diverse merchandise can be purchased on the WDM Chamber’s shopify page. Options for shipping or pick up are available. You can also find a list of DEI resources on the WDM Chamber website, including local business directories, resource guides, and mental health resources. If you have information available to help support our diverse populations, please contact the WDM Chamber. To learn more or join the Chamber’s DEI Committee, contact Angela Jackson at email@example.com.
About the WDM Chamber of Commerce
The mission of the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce is to champion all things West Des Moines by strengthening our area companies, providing personalized resources and attracting a top workforce to position WDM as the best suburban city in America. With 700+ members, we provide something for everyone. Learn more about the chamber and how to get involved at wdmchamber.org.