Reflections: Supporting Businesses to Achieve Equity

Learn why we are striving to partner with more minority and/or women-owned business enterprises (MWBE) when making purchasing decisions.

Reflections: Our Personal & Professional Efforts Toward Racial Equity is a monthly blog. Each month, a member of our staff will reflect on what they are doing either personally or professionally to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in our work. View more


Last year as a part of a Leadership Greater Syracuse class day that I attended, we were shown a graphic that I had never seen before. The graphic depicted a way to understand the difference between Equality and Equity. In the first image, there are three people standing behind a wooden fence trying to watch a baseball game. All three people are standing on identical sized boxes in an attempt to see over the fence to watch the game. The tallest person was well above the height of the fence and could see everything. The average sized person could just see over the tip of the fence. The shortest person was staring directly at the fence, too short still to see the baseball game.

Equity demonstration with three boys on boxes looking over fence

In the next image, each individual was given exactly what they needed to be able to see over the fence. The tallest person could already see fine, so they were not given anything. The average sized person was given one box to stand on, and the shortest person was given two boxes to stand on.

In the very last image, all three people are standing behind a chain link fence, all able to see the game fine without any additional help. The systemic barrier, the wooden fence, had been removed. While we unfortunately still live in a world in which people are facing barriers because of their race and gender, by pushing to have things seen through an equitable lens, we can start to break down the system.

The Community Foundation is striving to partner with more minority and/or women-owned business enterprises (MWBE) when making purchasing decisions. An MWBE organization is a business that is owned, operated, and controlled by women or those that meet the following definitions as defined by New York State:

  • Black: Persons having origins from any of the Black African racial groups.
  • Hispanic: Persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban, Central or South American descent of either Native American or Latin American origin, regardless of race.
  • Asian-Pacific: Persons having origins from the Far East, Southeast Asia or the Pacific Islands.
  • Asian-Indian Subcontinent: Persons having origins from the Indian subcontinent.
  • Native American or Alaskan Native: Persons having origins in any of the original peoples of North America.

In the first six months in my new position as Senior Manager of Business Operations, I’ve made it a mission of mine to seek out more MWBE vendors for service and maintenance of the CNY Philanthropy Center. It has been an amazing experience. The new vendors have brought fresh perspectives on how we can keep our building not only functional, but thriving especially as we come out on the other side of the pandemic.

In addition, other members of our staff are doing the same when seeking support services such as catering, consulting, photography, printing and more. We are aiming to be able to partner with more and more businesses owned by those who have been historically excluded. While we still have a way to go, we are heading in the right direction.

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