WHY DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION MATTERS: RECOGNIZING AUSTIN’S CHAMPIONS OF CHANGE

Austin is a great city. Known for its eclectic music scene, and being the Live Music Capital of the World, it also boasts world class events and down home hospitality. Nicknamed the “Silicon Hills”, Austin is also a technology epicenter. In fact, for the last two years, Austin has retained the No. 1 spot for “Best Places to Live in the U.S.” according to U.S. News and World Report.

But despite our city’s accolades, many people don’t realize Austin was found to be one of the most economically segregated metro areas in the country, shown in a 2015 study. Black and LatinX native Austinites have been and continue to be pushed out of the city due to the rising cost of living, increasing taxes, and residual ideologies from the 1920s that required African American residents to live in East Austin.

This racial divide not only creates challenges for home affordability, education and health inequality, it also makes the path to become a successful entrepreneur significantly harder. The segregation not only hinders access to resources, networks and opportunities, it also hurts the economic performance of Austin. A 2012 PolicyLink study said the Austin-area economy would have been $21.7 billion larger in 2012 — a 22% increase — if its minority populations enjoyed the same employment and wage distributions as its Anglo majority. There’s also a real need for greater empathy and compassion in our activity to effect real change in diversity, equity and inclusion within our social, economic, education and political arenas.

In the spirit of MLK Jr and Black History Month, DivInc has created the 2019 Champions of Change Awards to celebrate and recognize our amazing community leaders who are actively mobilizing to drive thoughtful, meaningful and high impact solutions. From tech, to social, to education and civil service, we want to recognize our community leaders who are not just talking the talk, but are walking the walk. We want to recognize and celebrate them while inspiring others to join the movement to greater diversity, equity and inclusion in Austin, TX.

At DivInc, we’re passionate about doing our part to make a positive impact. We believe that diversity and inclusion drive innovation. The DivInc accelerator program serves as social proof for entrepreneurs, VC investors, and the community at large that we can improve and broaden our ecosystem by making it more inclusive of talented founders, mentors, executives, and investors.. DivInc proves there is room for founders who are women and people of color in the startup community and these founders are worth investing in.

Please join us on March 1st at City Hall to celebrate some of the most amazing people who are tirelessly working for a better, more diverse, equitable and inclusive Austin! A selection committee of distinguished community leaders have selected thirty five finalists for Executive of the Year, Diversity and Inclusion Leader of the Year, Program of the Year, Investor of the Year, Champion of the Year, Rising Star of the Year and Nonprofit Leader of the Year.

Space is limited, so get your tickets now! RSVP here: divinc.org/awards

All proceeds from DivInc’s Champions of Change will go directly to support the mission of DivInc a nonprofit 501(c)(3), to empower people of color and women entrepreneurs and help them build successful high growth businesses by providing founders with access to education, mentorship and vital networks.

Monica Morales