Today, Mayor Sly James unveiled city government’s blueprint for women’s empowerment. This initiative, the first of its kind in the nation, culminated a five-month-long collaboration between the Mayor’s Office, Central Exchange, Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City, and UMKC’s Women’s Center. Mayor Sly James joined with leaders from the organizations to outline the recommendations of the initiative. The overall goals are to ensure the City of Kansas City, Missouri is an inclusive, diverse organization and supports women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs.
“Women make up over half of our population and are reaching higher levels of education than ever before. There is so much you could take away from that, but at the end of the day, it’s simply good business to seek out and support the female perspective,” said Mayor Sly James. “It’s finally becoming more en vogue to talk about women issues. But the WE initiative is more than talk – it’s supporting a blueprint of practical applications to get things done.”
During the past few months, WE hosted five in-person group feedback sessions conducted by professional facilitators from UMKC. Employees were also offered the opportunity to share their ideas through an anonymous online survey covering the same topics discussed at the focus sessions. Hundreds of employees submitted ideas and suggestions on how to improve city government’s culture, processes, and policies.
The Central Exchange promoted the WE initiative through outreach to their network. An important component of WE is to provide more access and opportunities for women-owned businesses to work with the City. “On a national level, women-owned business account for 30% of all privately held firms and generated $1.3 trillion dollars in sales last year,” said Cici Rojas, President and CEO of Central Exchange. “It is imperative that we continue to promote and support women-owned businesses in the greater Kansas City area in order to sustain and grow a healthy and vibrant local economy.”
The Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City surveyed current and past female members of the City’s boards and commissions, and potential candidates, in order to increase gender diversity on the City’s boards, commissions, and task forces. “Through this partnership, we have the opportunity to create lasting systemic change which, in turn, will result in positive change for the Kansas City community as a whole. We are honored to join in this great effort, and look forward to doing our part to ensure that women are fairly represented in our city’s government,” said Wendy Doyle, President and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City.
UMKC’s Women’s Center is connecting the City with their students and alumni from a broad range of disciplines to help develop a talent pipeline. “We are honored and pleased to partner with the City, the Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City and the Central Exchange to help cultivate the next generation of women leaders in Kansas City,” said Brenda Bethman, Director of UMKC’s Women’s Center.
The blueprint can be viewed at kcmayor.org/we.