Business Equity for Indy (BEI), a joint effort of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, Indy Chamber, and in collaboration with the Indianapolis Urban League, was formed in 2020 to unite the Central Indiana business community to grow a more inclusive business climate and build greater equity and economic opportunity for the Indy Region’s Black residents and people of color. The initiative has grown over the past three years to prioritize strategies for the business community to advance racial equity across three priority areas: Policy, Procurement, and People.
Advocating for Policies that Advance Racial Equity
Sustainable change requires a supportive policy framework to ensure that all can participate in and benefit from our shared economy. Through BEI’s Policy Taskforce, Indy Chamber convenes corporate and community partners to advocate for legislation that eliminates barriers and discrimination while promoting equitable opportunities for all entrepreneurs and businesses.
Indy Chamber’s Business Advocacy team advocates for policies that encourage and foster the success of all in the Indy region. In 2023, Indy Chamber advocated for and saw the success of several priorities, including:
- Automatic enrollment of high school students to the 21st Century Scholars program, which will vastly expand access to postsecondary education for students of color and
- A $350 million investment to expand public and mental health services, a critical step toward providing all Hoosiers access to quality healthcare, especially Black and Brown communities facing a disproportionate burden of chronic health challenges.
Contributing to Diverse Procurement Efforts
A crucial aspect of Business Equity for Indy’s mission lies in promoting diverse procurement practices. Indy Chamber and BEI recognize that economic empowerment is vital for underrepresented businesses to thrive and contribute meaningfully to the local economy. By partnering with companies large and small through the Business Equity for Indy Procurement Roundtable, Indy Chamber is pleased to play a part in encouraging companies to increase their supplier diversity, which fosters opportunities for Certified Minority Owned Business Enterprises, or MBEs, to secure contracts with corporations that they may not otherwise have had access to.
Connecting suppliers with potential buyers builds relationships that can lead to lasting partnerships–partnerships that not only empower minority businesses but also promote the creation of a more robust and competitive marketplace where diversity and innovation go hand in hand. Since its inception, the Roundtable has allowed 29 presenters and six vendors to showcase and elevate their products and/or services. In 2023, through the Business Equity for Indy Procurement Roundtable, Indy Chamber tracked corporate spending with Black-owned businesses, totaling $600 million since 2021.
Every successful business emphasizes the development of its workforce. Recognizing this, Indy Chamber supports and contributes to BEI’s talent efforts through the BEI Workforce Pilot Program. The Pilot Program aims to give hiring professionals the guidance and support they need to attract, retain, and advance Black professionals.
The Workforce Pilot is an intensive, two-year cohort that is currently helping 16 companies identify where they can invest in equity within their companies alongside a team of industry and technical experts.
Indy Chamber’s Business Ownership Initiative complements the work of BEI by enabling small businesses to access loans with terms specifically designed to enable small businesses to grow in their capacity to serve the procurement needs of an increasing number of suppliers.
Business Equity for Indy exemplifies the powerful impact that an organization can have when it commits to advancing equity in the workplace and community, and we’re looking for more partners. If your company is interested in joining Business Equity for Indy, learn more here.