Call to Action: Making Our Workplaces More Representative of Our City

What if the leaders of our business community reflected the people who live here?


With the new year comes new opportunities to make our workplaces more representative of our city. In 2019, Business for a Better Portland members are again partnering with the Emerging Leaders Internship (ELI) Program to create a more inclusive entrepreneurial workforce.

BBPDX members believe in business as a force for good and a platform for dialogue. ELI offers an outstanding opportunity to put this belief into practice, pairing underrepresented college students and recent graduates with local industry leaders through paid internship opportunities. Three years ago, eROI Founder and CEO Ryan Buchanan (and Founding BBPDX member) called out the need for a more diverse local business community. ELI was created with intention and care to meet that challenge, giving students and recent graduates of color access to executive teams, exposure to leadership models, and space in Portland’s thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.

ELI has grown rapidly since its start in 2016, placing 201 students into internships at 84 companies around the region. This success has created high demand from students, sharply outpacing supply of internships. Last year, the program received 876 applications and placed 80 interns. With this incredible wealth of talented students, ELI sees huge opportunity to connect them with companies seeking to diversify their workforce.

ELI’s goal for 2019 is to place 200 students of color into top companies in the Portland area. Let’s help meet that goal by adding at least 15 BBPDX member companies to the roster of ELI hosts.

To show your interest in hosting a 2019 Emerging Leaders intern, fill out this short form no later than January 15th.

Learn more about how your company can benefit from talent that reflects the rich diversity of THe eli community by visiting the ELI website, or send ELI an email.

Watch this video with more information about Emerging Leaders and ELI programming.

Support for ELI is an important piece of BBPDX’s work to expand access and opportunity within Portland’s business community, but it will only create lasting impact if it is part of an ongoing, intentional effort. Here’s a look at some of the other steps BBPDX members are taking to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce citywide:

Supporting black founders and their business ideas through Pitch Black

Supporting black founders in their pursuit of opportunity in Philly

Joining the call for preserving funding for Prosper Portland’s Inclusive Business Resource Network in the city’s budget

Growing the reach of entrepreneurs, makers, and performing artists of color at My People’s Market

To share your own stories of success or information about initiatives that support greater workforce inclusion, write to us at We look forward to hearing from you.