Through the Forge North initiative powered by the GREATER MSP Partnership, partners across the Minneapolis-Saint Paul startup and innovation ecosystem set goals for the region, including in the area of racial equity.
The horrific killing of George Floyd moved many of these partners to call for even more immediate action. The Forge North Leadership Council called on the region's startup, tech, and business communities to pledge to take meaningful action that advances racial equity in their organizations across Minneapolis-Saint Paul. In just a few days, nearly 200 leaders have pledged their support for building a more equitable startup and business community. Today, we wanted to take a moment to share how the pledge came to be, what the response has been so far, and what the next step looks like.
One of the reasons that Forge North was able to respond quickly was due to the strength and trust already built into the platform. Each week, leaders of local entrepreneurial support organizations like Lunar Startups, The Coven, BETA, Social Impact Strategies Group, Minnestar, MN Cup, Graveti, Finnovation Lab, Grow North, and many others already meet to support each other and grow their impact across the startup community. When the idea of creating a racial equity pledge was raised, it was quickly embraced and mobilized by the group.
These team members brought the idea to the Forge North Leadership Council, which had already been engaging hundreds of community partners over recent months. Together, the group convened to jointly draft the statement. Because this team included entrepreneurs, active venture capital leaders, corporate innovators, accelerator leaders, and startup community organizers, the team was able to consider various perspectives across the region’s diverse and vibrant ecosystem.
The startup community had already made it clear to the Forge North Leadership Council that racial equity should be a top priority for our region. This gave the council the confidence they needed to move quickly in the moment. It also helps to explain why nearly 200 partners such as startup CEOs and investors have signed on so quickly and pledged to take action.
In creating this pledge, partners in the Forge North initiative sought not just to reaffirm their commitment as a coalition, but to take intentional action. They believe 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. This statement pledge is a necessary step toward action, but it's not sufficient to stand alone. Now those signing it will need to do the hard work of delivering on their pledges. The partners that jointly drafted the initial statement are working now to develop next steps and identify experts that can work with them and support each leader signing onto the pledge as they take actions related to hiring, promotion, investment, procurement, and more. Different leaders and organizations will have different opportunities to take action based on the work their organization does in the startup and business community.