Workforce focus on diversity, equity, inclusion skyrocket business for local minority-owned firms

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace: Terms you've heard before but in the last year there has been an increased focus.

The movement for equity has been a business boom for minority-owned firms.

"Our requests, requests for our services jumped up over 800% last year," said Xavier Ramey, CEO of Justice Informed

"We've basically tripled and in that time," added The NOVA Collective co-founder, Tiffany Hudson.

Justice Informed and NOVA Collective specialize in educating companies, from top executives down the ranks, on how to create a more diverse and equitable workplace.

Both firms have seen a big spike in business following the demands for change in the aftermath of George Floyd's death.

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"So I think that it also gave people the fire that they needed within them to go to their CEOs and their executives and say, 'enough is enough,'" Hudson said. "So we saw a huge change. I'm glad that companies are doing this work and realizing how important it is."

"By the time George Floyd was killed, diversity, equity and inclusion jobs were up about 70% year over year for 2019, 2020," Ramey said. "After George Floyd was killed, the market for those jobs skyrocketed and people started very quickly trying to identify mostly Black and brown women, I suppose to fill those roles, but there's no school for this work so everybody's coming in with their idea of what diversity means versus standards that come out of practice and experience."

Each of these leaders said it will take a collective effort to make sure organizations are informed and recognize the need and the benefits of an equitable workplace.

"When we're doing consulting, we're really meeting them where they're at and trying to help them get to where they are not," Hudson said. "Not necessarily the destination, because there is no destination in this work - it's always a journey, but at least to get them to a point where they can start to do this on their own and really have it become a part of the DNA of the organization."

"So although I'm very, very encouraged - I'm very excited about this newfound interest. I also encourage everyone to look at it, as I tell some of my clients, I'm sorry that injustice doesn't give you better options," Ramey said. "You're going to have to take the patient approach, not because this isn't important but because you didn't see it as important yesterday and that has a cost today. So be patient with us we're rolling as well."

It will take patience and a for businesses to plan to make sure change is long-lasting.

"Corporations that don't create timelines and schedules to free their staff up to learn how to fill in these learning gaps, their DEI strategy is going to fail," Ramey said. "Like, you have to grow your ability to engage that and part of the challenge is that 21st-century leadership has had no education on culture, and race, and these sorts of things. And so they don't even teach that this is a requirement for leading in the 21st century, but they're still responsible for leading."

"I think, really reaching the hearts, the hearts of people, you know, I think that once people start to understand that this work," Hudson added. "It is not just about numbers, this is about people's lives. I think that that changes things for folks."
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