“At a recent private Portland Business Journal event, it finally hit me—my ‘Portland business normal’ of predominantly white males can no longer be acceptable for Portland.”
And so begins Ryan Buchanan’s recent blog post titled “Portland Business Community: Too White, Too Male.” As the CEO of local company eROI, he knows what he’s talking about. I had the privilege of attending a different Portland Business Journal event last year, and I can’t say I disagree with him. Even in the “whitest city in America” (ugh), the event was remarkable for it’s white-dudeness. And that’s saying something.
He’s also right about it being unacceptable. We lamented that Hello itself is too white, too female at our leadership team retreat a couple of months ago, and made a commitment to being proactive about both understanding and changing that in 2016. Proving that The Universe works in mysterious and wonderful ways, we were recently asked to be a part of the new program that Buchannan is spearheading. And of course, we have accepted.
The Emerging Leaders Internship program pairs Portland businesses with college students of color for paid summer positions. We’ve never had an intern before, let alone one of the brightest and best in the city, so we’re pretty dang excited. And no, not because we need someone in the mail room (we don’t have a mail room, for the record). We’re excited because there are important voices missing from around our table (ok, fine, we don’t really have a table either, but, you get the idea). Hello can help new and different voices be heard in our fair city, and those voices can help us make a better life for the students and families we serve. How could we possibly say no? 🙂