Sponsored: Sidni Shorter is championing diversity for a new era of economic empowerment
Photo by Dave Labrum, shot on location at Clearlink
This article originally appeared in Modern Day Utah Pioneers, a publication sponsored by Clarke Capital.
In today’s dynamic business landscape, it takes visionary leaders to break through barriers and pave the way for true progress. Sidni L. Shorter, president and CEO of the Utah Black Chamber of Commerce, is one such leader. With her unwavering commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, she is redefining the role of a chamber of commerce and transforming businesses across Utah into beacons of opportunity and innovation.
As a friend and colleague, I have had the privilege of witnessing her remarkable journey firsthand. As a thought leader, motivator and change maker, Shorter is empathetic, kind and wise. She is always poised to listen and learn to carry out her servant leadership style.
From the outset, Shorter has made it her mission to provide innovative opportunities for Black-owned businesses. She believes all businesses are vital to the economic ecosystem and have the ability to participate in Utah’s globally recognized and flourishing economic ecosphere.
Under her guidance, the Utah Black Chamber of Commerce has become a driving force in promoting and supporting solopreneurs, first-time CEOs and enterprises in the making. Through strategic partnerships and initiatives, she has created a platform for Black entrepreneurs to thrive and succeed.
One of the most visible accomplishments of Shorter’s tenure has been collaborating with the National Basketball Association (NBA) during the 2023 All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake City. Leveraging her network and influence, she facilitated opportunities for Black-owned businesses to engage with NBA leaders, partner with brands like Coca-Cola and Microsoft, pitch their businesses for a $50,000 prize, and gain exposure on a national scale. This groundbreaking initiative provided economic growth for these businesses and showcased the immense, largely untapped talent and potential within Utah’s Black community.
Shorter’s vision extends beyond mere token gestures of diversity and performative allyship. She firmly advocates for establishing environments that cultivate genuine diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. She is dedicated to transforming member businesses into inclusive environments where everyone can thrive and achieve their full potential.
"In just over a year, Shorter has gained the respect of Utah’s leaders and garnered accolades for her work from the state Capitol to the White House. Her work is transformative and, while being felt now, will transcend future generations. She has paved the road with diligence, determination, and a dedicated passion for the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion and the Utah Black Chamber itself."
Rather than working with companies that simply want to check a box, Shorter offers a comprehensive approach to ensure every business can actively participate in equitable resource sharing and capital allocation. Under her leadership, the Utah Black Chamber equips member organizations with the tools and knowledge needed to embrace inclusivity, including workshops, training programs and educational resources. With this vision and direction, Utah’s economy is poised for substantial growth and is expected to unlock new opportunities due to these investments.
Shorter has made a significant impact not only in boardrooms but also in Utah’s communities. She strives to promote inclusion and ensure diversity in Utah’s Black Chamber membership, making it the most diverse chamber in the country. Shorter believes space and place are essential for everyone and works tirelessly to inspire individuals to pursue their dreams and contribute to the state’s growth.
She collaborates with educational institutions, government entities and community organizations to foster a network of support that goes beyond traditional business practices. Shorter understands that a business’s success is directly related to the community’s well-being, and she works hard to ensure both thrive together.
Her leadership style is characterized by her unwavering dedication, boldness and compassion. She possesses a unique ability to inspire those around her, encouraging them to dream bigger and aim higher. Her infectious enthusiasm ignites a passion for change and motivates individuals and organizations to take deliberate steps toward inclusivity.
With her leadership, the Utah Black Chamber of Commerce has become a catalyst for change, challenging the status quo and pushing boundaries. Shorter is committed to reshaping the narrative of Utah, elevating the importance of collaboration, partnership and investment to ensure everyone is valued, seen, heard, respected and included—regardless of our differences.
Her impact goes beyond the transformation of the perception of Black-owned businesses. She has also set a new standard for all companies in Utah, encouraging them to embrace diversity and inclusivity as positive drivers for growth and prosperity. Her approach centers around putting people first and respecting authenticity to create successful, sustainable and profitable businesses. Her mantra, “Validation is for parking—not for people,” perfectly captures the essence of her message.
In just over a year, Shorter has gained the respect of Utah’s leaders and garnered accolades for her work from the state Capitol to the White House. Her work is transformative and, while being felt now, will transcend future generations. She has paved the road with diligence, determination, and a dedicated passion for the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion and the Utah Black Chamber itself.