Several years ago, Ryan Buchanan attended an event with about 90 business executives in the Portland, Ore., area where his company is based, and had what he calls an "aha" moment.
Looking around, the CEO of digital marketing agency Thesis could see that nearly every single one of the executives there was a white man.
"I was part of the problem because I hadn't been intentional about building relationships with entrepreneurs of color," Buchanan said. "I looked at my own company and realized we'd also not been intentional about racial diversity and [gender] equity."
So, with the help of a colleague, Buchanan founded a nonprofit that provides college scholarships to students of color, mentors young professionals from diverse backgrounds and invests in resource groups for LGBTQ workers.
As for his own company, 42 percent of his 260 employees are now people of color, while 61 percent are women. His "aha" moment was what started it all.
"We changed our hiring practices. It was like that pebble in the lake that helped us start creating relationships with folks who don't look like us. It should have happened a decade earlier," he said.