Mary Shannon, founder of Connectus Worldwide, is recognized for her efforts in advancing diversity and inclusion within Kansas City's business landscape. Through her participation in the CEO-to-CEO Challenge, initiated by KC Rising, Shannon seeks to foster partnerships between major corporations and minority-owned businesses, thereby expanding opportunities for collaboration and economic growth. With a background in corporate diversity programs, Shannon underscores the significance of diverse teams in enhancing decision-making processes and ultimately improving a company's profitability. Her involvement in the challenge not only aims to secure contracts for her firm but also to elevate the visibility of minority-owned businesses in the Kansas City area, aligning with research indicating that diverse partnerships contribute to economic prosperity.

The CEO-to-CEO Challenge, viewed as both equitable and strategic, encourages corporations to engage with minority-owned partners, recognizing the potential for mutual benefit and societal advancement. Participants like Steve McDowell from BNIM commit to actively seeking out minority-owned partners, acknowledging the imperative of greater diversity within their industries. This initiative addresses income and wealth disparities by nurturing relationships between large corporations and small minority-owned businesses, emphasizing inclusivity as a cornerstone for building a thriving community. Through such collaborative efforts, Kansas City endeavors to harness its unique strengths while rectifying past shortcomings, striving to cultivate a more equitable and prosperous business environment for all stakeholders.