What We Do

The St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative has established a series of programs to help companies and minority employees and vendors expand their ways of doing business to be more successful by being more inclusive — from skill-building, to monthly networking opportunities, to sharing of best practices. The initiative also is a conduit to connect minority employees with employers and minority suppliers with purchasers. Hiring and procurement contacts for all members of the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative are available at stlbizdiveristy.com.

Diversity Officers’ Network

Senior human resources executives from member companies meet monthly as the Diversity Officers’ Network (DON) to strategize about ways companies can help each other promote fully inclusive workplaces. The DON members share successful experiences and create action plans to help businesses formulate and execute programs for the hiring and advancement of minorities.

Leadership Development

The St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative’s leadership program is designed to address the interests and challenges of professionals of color as they work to develop and advance their careers. Participants in our program are Black, Latino, Asian & South Asian, and Native American. The Initiative Fellows program features a holistic approach that creates a safe and stimulating environment for participants to receive valuable feedback, self-reflect on the feedback, acquire effective leadership strategies and build relationships essential to their individual and collective growth. The leadership program for professionals of color is The Initiative Fellows Program for mid to senior level professionals.

This is a program for which a participant must be nominated.


The Initiative Fellows Program establishes a framework to enhance leadership capacity. The program further refines leadership competencies through a strategic curriculum and the sharing of wisdom and best practices.

Professional Development: In a open yet safe environment, participants reflect on their goals, performance, and operating style, and how they adapt to varied workplace cultures;

Relationship Building: Program forums, social events and conferences with the full range of Fellows program participants foster the formation of a supportive professional and personal network essential to the success of one’s long-term growth and development; and

Civic Engagement: Through volunteer and civic activities, professionals sharpen and hone their skills, expand their relationships and deepen their connection with the broader community.


Program participants meet monthly for one year.

Program Content

The Initiative Fellows program approach includes:
  • Mastering an effective style of leadership
  • Maximizing performance and adapting to change
  • Developing talent and fostering a productive team
  • Creating balance through career and life choices
  • Leveraging professional expertise and resources to enhance the broader community

Candidate Profile

Initiative Fellows are:
  • African American, Hispanic American, Native American or Asian American working at a St. Louis Region company
  • Mid-level manager; a high level individual contributor; or professionals such as attorneys, doctors (MD and/or PhD), CPAs
  • Employed a minimum of 7 years
  • Graduates of college
  • Recipients of personal or professional achievement awards
  • Demonstrated leaders within the company
  • Invested in the betterment of communities
  • Committed to full participation in the program

Sample Program Year

Orientation & Building a Foundation of Leadership Competencies; Clarifying Personal Leadership Brand; Tools to Lead Effectively (Efficacy); Three Critical Tasks of A Leader; Communications as a Competitive Advantage; Diversity and the Workplace; Leveraging Professional Resources – Power and Influence: The Power of Presence; What to Do When the Workplace Changes- The Organizational Workshop; Strengthening Influences through Volunteerism and Philanthropy; Organizational Behavior and Self Development; Globalization and End of Year Program Evaluation; Culmination Experience and Graduation

Gateway Connections

A welcoming orientation to the St. Louis region for people of color

Gateway Connections has been developed for professionals and their spouses or guests who have recently relocated to the St. Louis region. The program is designed to assist these professionals in making a smooth, knowledgeable transition to living in the St. Louis region. A half-day session has been designed to give the participants an opportunity to meet key business and community leaders and receive an extensive overview of the area’s history, economics, structures, cultural affairs and leisure amenities. In addition, the participants meet other professionals who have relocated to the area. The program goals are:

  1. Introduce people of color who have recently relocated to the St. Louis region;
  2. Inform participants about the historical, political, demographic and current issues of the region.
  3. Provide information about economic development in the St. Louis region.
  4. Encourage the participants to become involved in community activities and civic groups and cultural and entertainment scene;
  5. Create a shared experience for the participants and
  6. Allow the participants to meet and network with other professionals of color.
Learn more about Gateway Connections and Apply for the program.