Mar 8, 2021 - Business

Denver companies move to emphasize diversity and inclusion

Illustration of a pattern of "we're hiring" signs, in different colors.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Industry leaders across the country — and here in Denver — are feeling the pressure to invest in diversity, equity and inclusion.

Why it matters: Women and people of color continue to face major barriers when it comes to securing higher-paying jobs, starting small businesses and buying homes.

  • Yet studies show that companies with greater diversity tend to make better business decisions and outperform their competitors.
  • The push for diversity began even before mass protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, but many argue that meaningful change has yet to be seen.

Driving the news: The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce released a top-10 list of actions local employers can take to narrow disparities and build a workforce that works better for everyone. Tips include:

  • Mapping all jobs in your organization and developing career paths to foster job stability and higher pay.
  • Creating a scorecard to set equity goals, track progress and compare metrics with other businesses.
  • Working with training and education providers to diversify your applicant pool.

The state of play: Colorado jobs expert Andrew Hudson tells Axios the state has seen a boom in well-paying job openings focused on diversity.

  • Nearly 60% of U.S. companies have established a dedicated team to promote inclusivity, according to Mercer’s 2021 Global Talent Trends report released last month.

Zoom in: Harvard economist Raj Chetty presented research to Denver business leaders during a virtual event last week that showed the city's biggest economic disparities lie between white and Black communities and argued Colorado’s steady job growth hasn’t led to upward mobility for everyone.

  • He urged business leaders to apply his data to "improve economic outcomes by reducing segregation, focusing on place-based investing and improving higher education."

The bottom line: "The origins of [economic opportunity] are actually incredibly local, and there’s a great deal that all of us can do — in our own institutions, in our own neighborhoods, in our own schools — to make a big difference," Chetty said.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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