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Our Commitment to Diversity



Diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the core of everything we do.

Since our doors first opened, our team has been working to understand how we can use our position to create opportunities for black and brown people, veterans, women, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ community.

Our Business Diversity Policy is one of the first steps we are taking to do just that. We know we won’t be able to single-handedly break down all of the barriers to opportunity for those who are often left out. But as our very mission mandates, we will do our part. And if enough of us do our part, we truly believe we can create the change our community needs.

Our Goals

By 2022, we expect 33% of the Obama Foundation operations spend will be with diverse vendors.

While there is little public information against which to benchmark, industry experts from the Civic Consulting Alliance and A.T. Kearney noted that a majority of organizations that publicly release targets, set goals under the 25% mark for similar operations spending.

We're releasing our targets to be transparent about plans in an effort to encourage others to reach as high as possible.

We will publicly release our annual diverse spend so others can evaluate how we are tracking against the goals we set for ourselves.

Organizations are increasingly beginning to publish their diverse spend. We encourage others to embrace a similar reporting standard so we can learn from one another and compare our progress. Our reporting standard is to compare all available diverse spend dollars and to include any organization with diverse ownership in the count.

In 2018, 24% of our operations spend was with diverse vendors.

We encourage our partners to put diversity first.

The field of supplier development is where we find truly promising examples of what it looks like when large institutions value diversity. While at this stage of our life cycle the Foundation does not have robust procurement needs that demand a deep bench of suppliers, we will continue to learn from others and amplify the work that companies like Exelon and United are doing in this space.

We’re encouraging our partners to have diverse leadership including at the board level.

We're encouraging them to value diversity in hiring, spending, and supplier development.

We're encouraging them to sponsor students from the Obama Youth Jobs Corps to create opportunities for underserved youth.

Our Progress to Date

A rendering of the Museum Building is shown from the North.

In 2018, we spent close to $7 million with 150 diverse businesses—$3.6 million of which went to Chicago-based companies.

Partner with Us

We’re looking to work with vendors from the following categories:

  • Accounting/Audit

  • A/V & Equipment

  • Banking

  • Digital/Video

  • Catering

  • Event Security

  • Events

  • HR Services

  • Insurance

  • IT Services

  • Legal

  • Office Renovations

  • Office Supplies

  • Office Services

  • Communications/PR

  • Printing/Publishing

  • Photography

  • Transportation

Meet Some of Our Partners

Founded in 1938, Neal & Leroy, LLC is one of the oldest minority-owned firms in the United States. Their team works on complex legal issues across a variety of different practice areas including real estate, corporate, construction, and labor and employment law. Invaluable partners to the Foundation since our earliest days, they’ve helped the Foundation navigate our legal needs with great professionalism and ease. “Representing the Obama Foundation has been one of the proudest and most rewarding undertakings,” said Langdon Neal. “The opportunity to provide legal representation to the Foundation to advance the tremendously impactful and critically important work of President Obama and the First Lady is historic.”

Lakeside Alliance, Construction Manager for the Obama Presidential Center, is a collective of five construction firms—four of which are local African-American owned businesses. Lakeside is tasked to ensure that minority firms play a significant role in the construction of the Center. Their resource center on the South Side of Chicago is a space where local residents interested in learning about building things can stop by to enroll in workforce development training, explore construction and subcontracting opportunities for the Obama Presidential Center, or just learn about the construction industry as a whole. “Diversity and inclusion is something you have to be intentional about. So we are striving to be that blueprint.” said Pamyla Brown, who leads community engagement at Lakeside Alliance.

CS Insurance Strategies is a commercial insurance brokerage and risk management firm with offices in Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Their firm provides creative insurance consulting solutions to its clients and has helped the Foundation determine if our partners have adequate coverage based off the kinds of services they provide.“It is truly a unique and rare opportunity to play a role in the history, present and future of not only the United States but the city of Chicago which is home,” Charles Smith, founder of CS Insurance told us. “It also provides an opportunity for a local African American owned firm to apply our expertise, knowledge, and understanding of institutions as they grow and evolve.”

Agency EA is a minority- and women-owned brand experience firm based in Chicago, who became certified after working with the Foundation. At our 2018 and 2019 Summits, this boutique agency was critical in bringing our vision to life. From designing a stage for speakers from all walks of life to share their stories, to producing an experience that fostered rich connections among attendees, this team has a knack for leaving attendees inspired and engaged. “I operate my business with a deep appreciation for the powerful outcomes that result when diverse perspectives collaborate,” Gabrielle Martinez, co-founder of Agency EA, told us. “I can’t imagine a more meaningful way to channel Agency EA’s strategic, creative and executional capabilities than working with the Obama Foundation.”

Community Events

We’ve met with dozens of Chicagoans across the City to let them know about available opportunities, whether they are interested in providing services for the Foundation itself or aim to be part of the workforce that will build the Obama Presidential Center.

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Lakeside Alliance career fair at Malcom X College in Chicago, IL on Thursday October 11, 2018. Photographer: Jasmin Shah / The Obama Foundation

The Obama Foundation is providing these photos for personal use. Please credit "The Obama Foundation." Please note that these images may not be commercialized or sold.