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mHUB and ChicagoNEXT Host On The Table

On Tuesday, May 8, mHUB and ChicagoNEXT hosted an On The Table conversation as part of the annual forum for people to meet, share ideas, and explore ways to improve the region. Community members and key stakeholders met over dinner at mHUB to discuss building diverse talent pipelines in tech and manufacturing. ChicagoNEXT Executive Director Alya Adamany Woods and mHUB CEO and Co-founder Haven Allen moderated the evening's discussion, using the following discussion questions:

  • Manufacturing and tech sectors are both often thought of as white and/or male-dominated communities. Do they have the same challenges with respect to diversity? 
  • What role do universities play in filling pipelines of talent? High schools? K-12?
  • What are some resources student entrepreneurs can use to become successful? Are current entrepreneurs sharing their knowledge?
  • What changes to our workplaces will the next generation of tech leaders make that the current generation has been unable to do?
  • What can we do to invite people in and encourage change?
  • What are some key calls-to-action?
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    40 community members participated in mHUB and ChicagoNEXT's On The Table discussion

Below are some takeaways from the discussion.

  • Diversity is not just about what someone looks like; diversity also includes diversity of thought and experience.
  • Diverse organizations are 35% more profitable, according to a McKinsey study, but companies struggle to invest time and resources into finding diverse candidates.
  • "What companies are hungry for is innovation. But these companies don't realize that diversity is innovation." - Michael Donnelly,FWD Collective
  • Educational institutions need to ensure that students are empowered in their differences and that they see familiar faces when they're exposed to tech and manufacturing
  • "If you can't see it, you can't be it. We need to be investing in experiential education." - Alida Miranda-Wolff, Ethos
  • "It's our responsibility to go back into our communities as diverse entrepreneurs and tell people they can be successful and be what they want. Become the mentors and the resources for these students." - Carlo Navarro, Diversely
  • Companies need to plant seeds where they want to grow.
  • "Be present at community events. Engage with different schools. Have dedicated resources specifically for diversity and inclusion. This should be separate than HR." - Shaniqua Davis, Noirefy
  • Companies can't successfully incorporate diversity without a significant shift in culture and bringing everyone up to speed.

The group also decided on some calls-to-action.

  • We agree to be more collaborative; working together across organizations is essential in building diversity.
  • Diversity begins with organizational senior leadership. We agree to select our leaders wisely.
  • We agree to reach out to an entrepreneur who is just starting out and help them make the connections they need.
  • We agree to use data. For instance, we will look to research such as that from the Metropolitan Planning Council on the cost of segregation in business. We will show business owners what they are missing.

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      Moderators Haven Allen and Alya Adamany Woods

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      Scott Issen of Future Founders

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      Ed Coleman of Bethel New Life and Shonali Ditz of SparkShop