As leaders and members in the Minneapolis – St. Paul startup, tech and business community, we are deeply saddened and outraged by the senseless murder of George Floyd by four Minneapolis Police Department officers. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and community as they grieve and seek justice.
This and other actions, such as the racial profiling of black entrepreneurs by a white investor, witnessed in our community this week are not new occurrences. They are symptoms of the deep institutional and systemic racism that plagues our region, state, and nation. This racism is intentional, structural, and has deep roots in Minnesota and across our country. Redlining, housing and lending policies, economic instability, unequal access to education and healthcare, and racist policing practices are just a few examples woven into the fabric of our region.
Despite the efforts of many in our community who work tirelessly to combat these injustices, Minnesota ranks 45th among 50 states in racial integration, with massive racial wealth & education gaps contributing to the unequal treatment of Black people, Indigenous people, and all people of color.
As the Forge North coalition worked in recent months to establish bold 3-year goals for our startup, tech and business community, we heard a clear call to explicitly highlight racial equity as a top priority for our startup ecosystem.
This statement serves to reaffirm our commitment as a coalition, but we cannot stop there. We must take intentional action. The problem solvers in our startup and business community must build systems centered in equity, where Black, Indigenous, and people of color have equal access to the same wealth-building opportunities of their white neighbors.
We are calling on the Minneapolis – St. Paul startup, tech and business community to be leaders of change by pledging to take specific and meaningful action to advance our stated goal of racial equity across our community. Examples of ways to take action include but are not limited to:
- Shift spending and partnership opportunities to BIPOC-owned companies as demonstrated by organizations like Lunar Startups and MEDA.
- Analyze your company’s equity policies and practices with partners like Team Dynamics and Center for Economic Inclusion.
- Overhaul hiring, promotional, board membership, and ownership practices with an equity lens and priority for BIPOC leadership with help from partners like 26 Letters, Rae Mackenzie Group and The Forum on Workplace Inclusion.
- Publicly champion, mentor, and open doors for diverse entrepreneurs and their teams alongside organizations like GRAVETI, The Coven and TECHQUITY.
- Support community organizations helping small businesses rebuild, such as Lake Street Council, Northside Funders Group and Midway United, and ask that your funds be directed to BIPOC owners.
By signing on to this letter, you are pledging to take specific and meaningful action to build an inclusive startup community and advance racial equity across the Minneapolis – St. Paul region.
*This statement was drafted by the Forge North Leadership Council and leaders from a number of local entrepreneurial support organizations. Signatories will be provided a number of opportunities to engage with Forge North on future projects and opportunities to take action.
Forge North has partnered with Team Dynamics to host a series of sessions in February 2021 focused on culture, identity and equity in startups. The 4-part series will explore why culture and identity matter, the importance of handbook and hiring policy review, and how to turn tools into action. Please sign the pledge to receive an invitation or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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