Laura Beier Sep 17, 2021 9:00:00 AM 7 min read

Creating a more equitable community at #TCSW21 with 3M

We’re so thankful for strategic partners like 3M who help us make TCSW great every year and highlight the innovation thriving here in Minnesota. In recent years, we’ve committed to partnering with companies that are working to make our community more diverse, equitable, and address gaps in access — and 3M is doing just that.

From a $5 million pledge for St. Paul students to attend HBCUs, to a $50 million investment to address racial opportunity gaps through workforce development programs, to the company’s first DEI report in 2021, 3M is making strides to foster diversity in the Minnesota ecosystem.

Committing to the innovation community through initiatives such as TCSW is part of it too — not only is 3M sponsoring the TCSW 2021 opening party, but will have Cordell Hardy, SVP of Corporate R&D Operations at 3M, speak on a panel highlighting Black leaders in tech.

“Having a process of cultivating and benefitting from creativity outside of 3M is really important to our business model,” Hardy said. “For that reason, TCSW is really exciting for our enterprise,” he added.

Primarily working to manage technological capabilities and infrastructure internationally, Hardy has spent his entire career in a lab or in an R&D function at 3M. “I’ve been enamoured by this opportunity to take creativity and materials, and use this for profit enterprise to impact millions of lives,” he said.

This pattern of creativity, business model, leadership, and resolve is something you see at every stage of a business, Hardy said. Whether you’re a startup or an international corporation, this instinct and cost of capital and value creation is very important. 

“As an entrepreneur or a member of a larger enterprise, [you have] to have that mindset embedded in most of what you do,” he said.

These are some of the important topics Hardy will be speaking about at Lessons from Black Tech Leaders, a session at Twin Cities Startup Week 2021 where Black leaders in the Minnesota tech space will share their journeys and experiences.

“I was eager to participate, because… I saw ‘Black,’ ‘tech,’ ‘Minnesota,’ and thought, ‘Yes!,’” Hardy said, adding that the number of technical senior leaders of color in the Twin Cities metro is a small one.

“So when I have an opportunity to inspire, support, and share experience, I’m going to jump at that,” he said.

Looking back on a challenging year in the Twin Cities, it’s easy to default to feelings of hopelessness, especially when thinking about how the pandemic disadvantaged communities that have already been struggling economically. But, at the same time, Hardy pointed out that opportunities for entrepreneurs of color are at an all-time high.

“The amount of investment that’s going into the American economy to rekindle and restabilize growth is unprecedented,” he said. 

The programming, stimulus investments, and accommodative fiscal policy paired with this growth in investment shows that the U.S. has developed an awareness that we have to have an inclusive society to remain competitive. “People of color have this tremendous support that hasn’t existed in the past,” Hardy added.

The investment climate and demand for novelty from entrepreneurs of color is as good as he can imagine it, he added. “We have the opportunity to be really creative and have success… I can’t imagine a better time.”


Learn more:

Lessons from Black Tech Leaders:

  • When: Wednesday, September 22, 2021, 9:15 AM - 10:15 AM CDT
  • Where: Huntington Bank Stadium - Club Room - 420 SE 23rd Ave, Minneapolis, 55455

Join us for a powerful and insightful session as Black leaders in the Minnesota tech community share their journey to success. Our panel of technologists, entrepreneurs, and investors will share their experiences in tech and insights on how to break into and thrive in the space. We'll also hear thoughts directly from leading venture capitalists on how the increase of BIPOC VCs can impact the growth and successes of diverse-led startups.

This session is for all aspiring BIPOC professionals that want to learn lessons, resources, and insights to making an impact in tech. Register here!