Statement From Jennifer Dirks


To Our TEMPO Milwaukee members and Emerging Women Leaders,

The recent incidents of blatant racism and implicit bias that continue to plague our nation wears heavy on my heart and my soul today. As it does for our city of Milwaukee. As it does for our nation. We want to acknowledge the families and the hearts of the community that are heavy by the witness of inequity.

As a privileged white woman, I have found myself in fear of saying the wrong thing, not knowing how to show up as an ally, and not having all of the answers. I have sought counsel and guidance from my inner circle of black female friends to ensure TEMPO continues to advocate for all women – regardless of the color of their skin. And I know this to be true, that as President & CEO of TEMPO Milwaukee, I lead an organization with a strong and powerful voice. A voice that cannot remain silent at this time.

TEMPO is an organization whose presence is essential to the future success of the business community. We are an organization that advocates for all women. We have an opportunity, an obligation, to showcase our leadership. To harness and leverage the collective strength of our TEMPO network to create change. We lead by modeling in our voice which speaks to the power of equity. By creating space for our members to have thoughtful, courageous and vulnerable dialogue, providing education and resources, and being a truly inclusive partner in this community, only then will we become a catalyst towards solutions.

Diversity & Inclusion is a journey for all organizations, and TEMPO Milwaukee is no exception. As an organization with a membership composed of 88% white women, we recognize we have much work to do to create an inclusive environment. Diversity & Inclusion has been, and will continue to be, a strategic priority for our organization. TEMPO Milwaukee remains committed to increasing racial diversity and creating an environment of inclusion for our members and Emerging Women Leaders.

While I continue to educate myself, I have asked my inner circle of mentors and friends – Danielle Bly, Denise Thomas, Gerry Howze, Janette Braverman, Erickajoy Daniels, DeVona Wright Cottrell – to hold me and our organization accountable. In partnership with our D&I committee, as well as all of our TEMPO committees, we will continue to ensure we proceed always with a D&I lens and we use our platforms to create awareness and change. At the same time, we want our members to feel comfortable being transparent, seeking guidance and supporting one another. One of our EWL leaders, Isioma Nwabuzor, recently shared this article 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice. I thank Isioma for her leadership and starting this conversation with our EWL group.

As TEMPO’s mission and vision state, together we will continue to strive toward equity, to further the impact of women leaders in our community and create a society where ALL women hold an equal place in leadership, policy and decision-making. Thank you for being a part of this important work.


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