GFW Inc. announces four initiatives to address diversity, equity, and inclusion

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Greater Fort Wayne Inc. will introduce four new or enhanced initiatives to increase the community’s diversity, equity, and inclusion. The efforts are part of a collaboration of the Fort Wayne Black Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Fort Wayne Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, NewAllen Alliance, and GFW Inc.

“It’s time to take action,” GFW Inc. president and CEO John Urbahns said. “We know this is only a starting point and we have a long way to go, but we are confident these initiatives will make a real impact in the business community and beyond. Building a nationally recognized economy is our mission, and the only way we’ll accomplish that is by creating a more inclusive environment that empowers positive change.”

“We are proud to be part of making our community stronger with initiatives designed to create a more inclusive environment,” said Clifford Clarke, board chair of the Fort Wayne Black Chamber of Commerce. “These initiatives will help the participants see that our diversity strengthens us all.”

The four initiatives are:

  1. Webinar series – Experts will lead discussions on various topics including race in the workplace, HR policies, workplace environment, and diversity training. These presentations will be designed for all Allen County business leaders, particularly those who do not have a diversity officer on staff.
  2. Roundtable discussions – Guest experts will host small group discussions with up to 10 CEOs or key leaders from local organizations, focusing on issues surrounding diversity and inclusion. Topics will include employment, legal issues, access to capital, healthcare, housing, and education.
  3. Leadership Fort Wayne expansion/enhancements – GFW Inc. is currently raising funds to designate eight seats specifically for people from underrepresented backgrounds in the upcoming Leadership Fort Wayne (LFW) class. With these individuals included, the LFW cohort will better reflect the diversity and perspectives of our community. The program’s curriculum will also be expanded; for example, the “history of Fort Wayne” portion will be updated to include topics such as redlining and bussing. The LFW application deadline is Aug. 7; applications are available at LeadershipFortWayne.com.
  4. Bridge Program expansion – Established in 2019, the award-winning GFW Inc. Bridge Program is designed to help entrepreneurs bridge the gap between startup and success. Last year’s cohort of 15 startups included 10 businesses owned by people from underrepresented backgrounds. To build on this momentum, GFW Inc. has set a goal of adding 10 corporate sponsors to support additional entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds.

Additional initiatives are in the planning stages.

Research suggests diversity and inclusion in the workplace can be good for business. A McKinsey & Company study shows companies with more diverse workforces are more likely to be profitable.

“Diverse perspectives help companies minimize blind spots and make better decisions,” said Brenda Gerber Vincent, VP of community and corporate impact at GFW Inc. “And an inclusive community is one that’s more likely to attract and retain the talent that drives companies to success”

“As a business community, we must be intentional about confronting the history of racism in our country and in our community,” she continued. “We must do our part to lead the way toward a more equitable Allen County.”

About Greater Fort Wayne Inc.

Greater Fort Wayne (GFW) Inc. serves Fort Wayne and Allen County, Indiana, as its metro chamber alliance and primary point of contact for economic growth. GFW Inc. focuses on prosperity and community vibrancy through economic development, advocacy, programs, and resources that support business success, leadership development, graduate retention, and community engagement.