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Diversity & Inclusion

The Greater St. Louis economy is also an inclusive one. The region is highly diverse, and we continue to look for ways to make our workforce more inclusive of people of different backgrounds and cultures.

The region’s foreign-born community is highly educated, with predominantly white-collar jobs. They earn $83,000, 25% more than the average American born. Immigrants are three times more likely to be high-skilled than unskilled, one of the highest ratios in the country. The foreign-born tend to be scientists, professionals and managers, and are 44% more likely to have at least a college education and 130% more likely to have an advanced degree.

St. Louis is also home to multiple gender diversity efforts, focusing on incorporating women into the business and technological world. Programs such as CoderGirl assist women in learning about programming, while Brazen and WEST (Women Entrepreneurs of St. Louis) focus on supporting female entrepreneurship.

Launched in 2001, the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative of Greater St. Louis Inc. works with companies to build diversity and inclusion programs through training, convening and consulting. The initiative is made up of companies, organizations and agencies committed to attracting, retaining and advancing talented, diverse employees. Their Fellows Experience leadership program is a yearlong leadership program for nominated minority professionals. The curriculum includes best practices in professional development, relationship building and civic engagement to help Fellows advance their careers. Over 800 professionals have graduated from the Fellows Program. 

Launched in late 2013, the St. Louis Mosaic Project has an ambitious goal of St. Louis “becoming the fastest growing U.S. metro area for immigration by 2020.” The organization works to coordinate and centralize community services for immigrants, serve as a liaison between the business and international communities and help better link the immigrant population to religious organizations. 

Numerous St. Louis area organizations are working to make progress with economic inclusion. Top leaders of St. Louis’ largest private-sector employers are working to improve the quality of community and business life in the area. Organizations are developing and connecting diverse leaders and empowering citizens to work together to build a thriving and cooperative St. Louis community.

The governments of the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County have developed minority contracting requirements to try to help support minority- and women-run businesses. The county requires 24% minority-owned businesses and 9.5% women-owned businesses for construction contracts and 16% minority-owned businesses and 15% women-owned businesses for architecture and engineering contracts. There is also a 5% discount on bids for minority/woman owned businesses. The city set a goal of 25% certified minority-owned business participation and 5% certified women-owned business participation for contracts and purchases that involve city funds.

The Diverse Business Accelerator

ChamberSTL has started a new capacity building program for small to mid-sized minority and women owned businesses. The Diverse Business Accelerator is a three-month program for diverse business owners. The curriculum includes information and best practices on communications, marketing, relationship building and growth.

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Forward Through Ferguson

Forward through Ferguson is an empowered, independent and diverse group that is studying the underlying social and economic conditions underscored by the recent unrest in the region. They are working to fulfill the recommendations of the Ferguson commission to address inequality and injustice.

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