An action plan for change

An action plan for change

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Contributors:

Becky Davidson
VP, Marketing

I’m excited to share with Chamber Members the work our team has been doing around diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEA&I), including finalizing our internal policy and building a comprehensive action plan. This plan was presented to our Board of Directors earlier this year for feedback, which we have collected and incorporated into our goals.

When working in a small NFP organization like the Chamber, we often move quickly to keep all our projects and events moving forward. And sometimes that need to act quickly can cause us to stumble. This past January we did just that and were rightly called out by the public for not having any Black representation in our 2021 Halifax Business Awards finalists.

Our community spoke up, and we listened. This involved challenging conversations, and we had to rethink our assumptions on how we engage and encourage underrepresented and underserved business owners––to be part of this annual celebration and be part of the Chamber community.

We recognize that to be a truly representative Chamber, we needed to work harder to increase our inclusiveness. Our action plan will be the ground work to get us there.

What does diversity mean to us?

We believe when all members of our diverse community work together, we make Halifax a better place to do business. Diversity is a broad reaching statement that covers race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, physical ability, religious beliefs, political beliefs and so much more.

Equity is making sure everyone has the same opportunities because we all didn't start from the same place.

Accessibility means supporting and empowering people with disabilities. When people with disabilities can participate in all aspects of society, including accessing employment, it makes Halifax a stronger city.

It refers to designing products, devices, services and/or environments which create communities and enable persons with disabilities to participate fully in society without barriers.

Inclusion is ensuring that all people are being valued, leveraged for their talents and welcomed!

The Halifax Chamber positions itself as an extension of your small business, and this means providing leadership in the DEA&I space.

I'm excited to share with you five goals we have identified to support our business community.

1- Ensuring our communication content is reflective of our entire community

We will increase our line-up of stories that share both the celebrations and challenges faced by underrepresented groups. Our content will be shared through our 30,000 readers of Business Voice, our 14,000+ followers on Twitter, and other communication channels.

Our content calendar has captured some of the highlighted events to celebrate throughout the year and will help guide our content––including African Heritage Month, Asian Month, Indigenous Peoples Day, Pride, Accessibility Week, Small Business Week and many more.

2- Committed to having a diverse representation on our board of directors.

In 2020, the federal government launched its 50/30 challenge to encourage boards to have at least 50 per cent female representation and 30 per cent racialized people, people with disabilities, Indigenous people, and LGBTQ2S+ groups to be included.

The Chamber accepted the challenge and signed on as early adopters of the 50/30 pledge and currently has 43 per cent female and 29 per cent makeup of underrepresented groups today.

3- Delivering educational content

The Halifax Chamber prides itself in providing the highest quality event and professional development opportunities, offering over 100 events and sessions annually to over 1,750 members.

Part of this education will be hosting a minimum of four annual events and training sessions focused on DEA&I.

4- Membership growth for all businesses

We know that we can't do this alone. We have committed to hiring a new two-year position. A Community Engagement Specialist will be working with our membership team in helping to identify businesses with underrepresented business owners/staff.

We anticipate having open and honest discussions to fully understand why these business owners historically haven't considered themselves part of the Chamber.

Our goal is to invite 100 new businesses to join our membership. Part of our onboarding is immediately working to engage and include business owners and their teams to take part in our events, submit content to Business Voice and social media, and take advantage of our money-saving benefits. We will also be encouraging these members to take part in the nomination process for our annual Halifax Business Awards.

5- Diversity in everything

This goes beyond the speakers we host on stage at events––this includes suppliers, partners and attendees –– because we learn more by having different perspectives that come from diverse backgrounds.

New stories need to be told and, if we're doing it right, these events will foster tough but open and much-needed conversations to bring more equity and understanding to our community.

We have created an internal task force, which has created these goals, and an action plan to turn our goals into reality. We have developed a framework to track our efforts via the scorecard below and will be reporting quarterly to our Board of Directors, Members and the business community.

With over 1,750 members representing 65,000 employees in Halifax, the Chamber strives to represent our entire community and will take the lead in this work.

And we have the community and audience needed to make real and lasting change. Reach out to me if you see other areas of opportunity and growth, as we continue to strive in making real inclusive changes with your help.

Outline of DEA&I Plan
Scorecard to provide a framework when tracking our DEA&I efforts and report quarterly to our Board of Directors, Members and the business community.

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