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Beyond The Rhetoric | Kauffman Policy Forum Recap

On Wednesday, November 20th, 1871 hosted its fourth in a series of six policy forums supported by a grant from the Kauffman Foundation. The topic of this particular forum, broadly speaking, was changing the rhetoric of diversity and inclusion in policy work. 

A group of entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers and influencers spent the morning discussing how entrepreneurs and small business owners can advocate for a more just and inclusive society by recognizing how policies can unintentionally hinder diversity and inclusion efforts by perpetuating institutionalized bias.

Several takeaways from the morning include:

  • Policies are usually created with the best of intentions, however, differing individual experiences and unconscious bias can mean that policies do not achieve their goals in an equitable way.
  • There are tools that you can use (see more below) to unpack and analyze policies in the hopes of creating better policies in the future.
  • Entrepreneurs and small business owners are one of the top three groups that policymakers want to hear from.
  • When engaging with advocacy, do not be afraid to tell your story.

The first half of the morning’s event included advocacy training led by Joel Jackson, Assistant Director, Inclusion & Training at UChicago Medicine. 

During this time, participants learned about the ladder of oppression, which explains how unconscious bias and stereotypes lead to systemic oppression. In addition, participants learned the ORID method which can be utilized when analyzing policies. 

ORID stands for:

Objective: What are the facts of the situation? What do you notice?

Reflective: How do you feel about the policy? How do you think those affected by the policy feel about it?

Interpretive: What is the intent of this policy? How might bias influence the creation of this policy? What are the potential concerns of the policy?

Decisional: How could this policy be made to be more inclusive? Who should be involved in that discussion?

Using ORID, allows individuals to use different perspectives to determine if policies meet their stated goals in a just and equitable manner. After learning ORID, in small groups, participants practiced using the method by analyzing the Family Medical Leave Act and any unintended consequences or biases it may have.

During the second half of the morning, participants engaged with a panel who spoke to the role that entrepreneurs and small business owners can play in furthering diversity and inclusion efforts in public policy. Panelists included:

  • Geri Aglipay - Midwest Outreach Manager & National Women's Entrepreneurship Manager, Small Business Majority
  • Jaemie Neely - Director, Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Center, Women's Business Development Center
  • Joel Jackson - Assistant Director, Inclusion & Training, UChicago Medicine

  • Phill Coleman - Program Director, 1871

Panelists spoke to the power that small business owners and entrepreneurs can have as they advocate for policy change. In fact, Geri Aglipay shared with guests that entrepreneurs are one of the top three most influential groups for policymakers. Panelists also gave guests suggestions as what they can do to effectively navigate advocacy as an entrepreneur:

  • “Know your facts”: Before you speak out as an individual entrepreneur or a small business owner, do your research as to arguments both for and against a policy. That way, you are well informed and can answer questions as well as explain your point of view.
  • “Tell your story”: One of the most efficient ways to communicate the importance of a policy is by giving an example of how it has affected you or can affect someone. Do not be afraid to tell your story as an entrepreneur when advocating for policy change.
  • “Be consistent and authentic”: While you should always admit when you were wrong or your perspective has changed, do not shrink away from being an advocate simply because someone has a different perspective. When you are an advocate, you will hear from people who disagree with you. They have a right to their opinion too so politely stand your ground. Your peers and customers will respect you for it.
  • “Get uncomfortable”: Inclusion is challenging and it takes a lot of work. If you are trying to create an inclusion strategy for your business and the process is not making you uncomfortable, you may need to add more voices to the discussion. Make sure inclusion starts from the very beginning and challenge yourself and your perspective.



You can stay up to date on issues impacting entrepreneurs and small business owners through the resources listed below.

ACLU of Illinois


Small Business Majority

Women's Business Development Center

Women Employed

You can also learn more about the Kauffman Foundation and the Entrepreneurial Policy Network here. To make sure you receive an invitation to our next policy forum in the Spring of 2020, please email Stephenie Lazarus at


Topics: Kauffman Foundation

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