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Remarks by Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves at the Interagency Convening on Equitable Economic Growth


Good afternoon, everyone. I’m excited to welcome you to the Department’s Third Annual Interagency Convening on Equitable Economic Growth.

Today, this Equity Convening gathers us all here to engage in critical conversations about equitable economic development.

I would like to especially thank Representatives Al Green and Emanuel Cleaver for joining us today, as well as Mayor Ed Gainey of Pittsburgh.

I’d also like to thank Janis Bowdler, the Counselor of Racial Equity at Treasury, and Shalaya Morissette, the Department of Education’s Chief of the Minority Business and Workforce Division, for being here as well.

Also, I'd like to acknowledge all of our guest speakers whose expertise and perspectives will guide our discussions – particularly our keynote speaker, Janice Bryant Howroyd.

Finally, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to our attendees. Your presence and participation at this convening underscores the importance and urgency of the issues at hand.

Today we will seek to build on the insights and progress already made since the last Equity Convening, as well as the Business Diversity Convening that many of you participated in this past June – which marked the soft launch of the Business Diversity Principles Initiative.

The BDP Initiative is a Commerce-led endeavor to collaborate with the private sector to bolster, amplify, and expand best practices related to business diversity. But before I go further, let me set the stage.

At Commerce, we understand this fundamental truth: that our diversity is one of our country’s greatest strengths. These business diversity efforts to promote inclusive capitalism and equitable economic development are essential to paving the path to our economic prosperity.

This is a pivotal moment in our history. President Biden and the Biden-Harris Administration have time and again demonstrated a steadfast commitment to advancing racial equity and support for underserved communities not just via policy proposals but with historical, substantial investments in business grants, funding opportunities, and other equity-centered initiatives.

What’s more, we have a private sector community that has begun to commit billions of dollars and innumerable hours, exhausting important resources, to bolster efforts that are laser-focused on bringing equity to the forefront of their companies’ operating ethos.

What’s clear is that the public and private sectors have never been in a better position to work together – to learn from each other – to dismantle barriers that obstruct underserved communities from the economic growth and success they deserve.

That’s why over the past year, our policymakers and subject matter experts conducted listening sessions with various private sector organizations and thought leaders focused on developing our BDP Initiative.

Our objectives were not only to glean leading industry practices, policies, and programs related to business diversity but to better grasp how these efforts contribute to economic growth and competitiveness.

From those sessions and our research, we developed the six pillars of our Business Diversity Principles:

  • Executive Leadership;
  • Organizational Strategy;
  • Human Resources;
  • Workforce Development;
  • Business Opportunities; and
  • Community Investment.

And now, not only have they been identified but brought into the conversation. Today I am proud to announce that Commerce has published the draft Business Diversity Principles, which can be found on our website and in our Request for Information.

Today’s presentations and conversations will illustrate each of the BDP pillars, including specific strategies and real-world examples of business diversity in action. I look forward to diving deeper into those principles with you all throughout the day.