Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging | NAWBO

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging

In principle and in practice, NAWBO values and seeks a diverse and inclusive membership. NAWBO seeks full participation in the organization by all business owners who support our mission to empower women entrepreneurs, regardless of race, religion, age, sexual orientation, national origin or disability. NAWBO’s goal is to effectively represent the full diversity of the women business owner community and to expand access to leadership opportunities across the full spectrum of our membership.


Our Strategic Goal

By 2025, NAWBO will be broadly recognized as the most inclusive and diverse organization for entrepreneurial women in the United States.


NAWBO would like to hear about YOUR experiences with Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging »



Watch Now: NAWBO Leadership Shares DEI&B Commitments and Resources

Download the
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging Report

NAWBO Institute for Entrepreneurship DEI&B Programs
  • NAWBO Institute “Brave Is” National Women’s Business Conference Scholarships
    AARP and NAWBO partnered to provide 12 scholarships to the 2020 National Women’s Business Conference and an additional six scholarships that included a virtual exhibit booth to women business owners of color age 45 or older. The 18 women participated in closed roundtable discussions during the event and were awarded 1-year NAWBO memberships.
  • AARP “Established and Ready to Grow” Accelerator Program
    AARP and NAWBO partnered to provide an educational and roundtable discussion series to 40 early-stage women business owners of color over a 6-month period. The participants of the program are aged 45 or older. The program also included a 1-year NAWBO membership.
  • Wells Fargo Grant: Launch-Rite Program
    Through the Wells Fargo Open for Business Grant, NAWBO developed and will execute a start-up program for women who are exiting the workforce, in rural regions, and marginalized socioeconomic communities. The workshop series with have two 6-month cohorts. NAWBO hopes to reach up to 200 under-represented women who are exploring the entrepreneurship.
  • Cultivate Advisors $1M Advising Giveaway
    Launching in January 2022, Cultivate Advisors and NAWBO will provide 350 women-owned diverse businesses with boutique advising to scale their businesses over a 6-month period. The program will be broken out into four levels based on business size: start-ups, solopreneurs, smaller business hiring employees and businesses with employees who are scaling.
  • AARP “Power Your Dream” National Women’s Business Conference Scholarships
    The “Power Your Dream” Scholarship will be a repeat of the successful 2020 “Brave Is” Scholarship. The AARP collaboration will provide:
    • 18 NAWBO memberships
    • 12 Women’s Business Conference registrations
    • 6 Virtual exhibit booths to women business owners of color age 45 or older. *Pending
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging Professional Certificate
    NAWBO is exploring avenues to provide diversity, equity inclusion and belonging training to NAWBO members and possibly their staff to build a more inclusive workforce culture. The certificate program will be launched when funding is secured through a grant partner with a common mission of expanding diversity and inclusion education in the small business community. *In development

National Leadership and Investment in People
  • DEI&B Staff Member RFP
    The National team has an active RFP to bring a full-time Diversity and Inclusion Professional on staff. The individual will assist in chapter education, evaluation of diversity initiative progress and national strategy development.
  • Chapter Leader Diversity Education
    Diversity education is included as part of the Chapter President Onboarding before installation. The education will continue throughout the year and provide resources, toolkits and best practices to build inclusive chapters and local boards.
  • National Nominating Committee—Board Member Selection
    During the National Board selection process, many factors are weighed to ensure that all women business owners’ viewpoints are represented in the board room. The board is put together with women from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and industries. Members of the National Nominating Committee collectively represent the diversity of the woman business owner ecosystem within and outside of NAWBO membership.
  • HQ Team and Training
    NAWBO National staff is comprised of women and men from a variety of backgrounds, generations and ethnicities. As the staff grows, careful consideration is made to build a diverse team and model best practices as an organization. NAWBO HQ staff are required to complete sexual harassment training that includes LBGTQ education modules.

Five-Year Strategic Imperative

The Strategic Imperative strives to build an organization that reflects all women business owners in membership and objectives by NAWBO’s 50th Anniversary.

  • DEI&B Committee
    The DEI&B Committee assists chapter leaders with the formation and implementation of their DEI&B objectives, strategies and actions.
  • DEI&B Committee Supported Focus Groups
    The DEI&B Initiative team recruited participants from every NAWBO chapter to participate in six discussion group sessions held in Q4 2020 around topics including: the effects of COVID and the BLM situations on our members of color, their perspectives on how NAWBO represents all our WBOs politically, ethnically and across religious and age segments. They inquired about additional programming, training and support NAWBO HQ could offer, that would be of value to them personally and to their businesses.
  • Focused Chapter Support
    The DEI&B Initiative team also held a session with the Columbus chapter’s D&I Committee to hear details, examples and best practices from their team.

Communication Elements
  • Monthly Communication Theme
    February 2021 Theme: “Think Inclusive”—The articles, education and member profiles were focused on highlighting NAWBO’s diverse membership and providing DEI&B resources to members. These elements were featured in NAWBO One Articles and Resources, Chapter Leader Communication Toolkit and Chapter Social Media Toolkit. Topics included: Making your business more inclusive, interviews with WBOs who have experienced the rewards of inclusivity, etc.
  • Pictorial Representation Considerations
    There is a standing coordinated effort between the communications team and digital media strategist to use/create images of diverse ages, religious affiliations, ethnicities, cultures and economic backgrounds in national branded collateral. This encompasses all images published on the national website, social media channels, or included in print and digital materials.

National and Virtual Events
  • Connect and Learn Speaker Selection
    Between the months of March 2020 through June 2021, not including the months of July and December when virtual programming goes dark, have featured 1-2 women of color per month as our featured “Lunch & Learn/Connect & Learn” speakers.
  • Women’s Business Conference Keynote and Breakout Speaker Selection
    When building the speakers and agenda for national events, such as the National Women’s Business Conference, careful consideration is taken to include diverse women and men. The goal is for all women business owners to be able to connect and identify with the journeys and materials presented at the event. Attendees should not only feel represented but included and valued in the discussions/activities.
  • DEI&B Education and Training Sessions
    The DEI&B Initiative team coordinated an Inclusion & Diversity panel discussion session at the February 2021 National Leadership Academy. DEI&B education is included in National Women’s Business Conference sessions and monthly webinar series producing by NAWBO HQ.
  • NextGen Initiative
    For more than five years NAWBO National has been building strategy to engage and support the next generation of female entrepreneurs. These young founders are in the ideation stage, emerging or established and range in age from 10-35 years old. The committee has been able to work in partnership with college business programs to provide membership scholarships. The NextGen Committee produces the NextGen Forum 2-day virtual event that has specific education, resources and networking opportunities for these young women. NAWBO HQ does not withhold resources or community based on any female founder’s age. Furthermore, the NextGen Committee goes to lengths to reach this young generation and provide them resources in formats that fit their lifestyle.
  • Multi-Lingual Educational and Translation Services
    During the National Women’s Business Conference and other national events (as needed) translation services are provided in Spanish and French. During 2021, NAWBO HQ partnered with Facebook to produce a digital media training in Spanish for non-English speaking Latina WBOs. NAWBO HQ is working with other corporate partners to build a multi-lingual library of resources for members and non-members in the NAWBO Institute.


NEW DEI&B Actions

While we are proud of the initiatives we have taken in recent years to deepen our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEI&B) as we seek to achieve our goal of becoming the most diverse national business organization by 2025, we are committed to doing more to further our organization’s DEI&B commitment. These include recently launched tools and programs:

  • We created a new NAWBO incident reporting hotline where members and partners can provide critical feedback to help us grow, understand and be better—to help unify the community of women we serve. This is now an available option through NAWBO’s toll-free number: 1-800-556-2926.
  • We launched a new website landing page (you’re here!) dedicated to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. This page will include our diversity statement, accomplishments and upcoming actions.
  • We implemented a web form that is easily accessible from the top-left of the www.nawbo.org home page. Members, partners and non-members are invited to share experiences with NAWBO—positive or negative, confidential or not—to guide us as we work to create a culture in which every woman business owner feels included, supported and cherished. 
  • We added this web form to the email signature of every NAWBO HQ staff member for increased accessibility. We will also promote it through all appropriate communications channels.
  • We will be introducing a monthly virtual event designed to facilitate courageous conversations about the unique experiences of our members around diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging—both in NAWBO and in our businesses.
  • And there’s more to come, which we’ll share as we formalize our plans.