Navigating diversity and inclusion

Navigating diversity and inclusion

< Back to Articles | Topics: From the President | Contributors: Ann Divine, Founder & CEO | This is a guest post from Ashanti Leadership & Professional Development Services
(Member since 2017) | Published: April 8, 2021

This is a guest post from Ashanti Leadership & Professional Development Services
(Member since 2017)

April is designated as Diversity Month and we, at the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, want to acknowledge the importance of this diversity and inclusion and what this means for our Board, staff, members and all our stakeholders. Diversity plays a central role in driving economic growth and prosperity for all Canadians.

I’m Ann Divine, incoming chair of the Halifax Chamber Board of Directors HR & Governance Committee, which offers oversight of the corporate governance issues to ensure the appropriate processes, structures and information necessary to contribute to the success of the organization.

We acknowledge that 2020 was a tumultuous year for all of us––having experienced the COVID-19 and the brutal murder of George Floyd in May 2020. These two pandemics gave us the opportunity to take an introspective look at our organization and the diverse communities we serve.

As a country, province and city, we know that “Canada’s great diversity is both competitive and a difference-maker for businesses.”* And at the heart, our future success is our ability to draw on diverse perspectives, innovativeness, creativity and thought which are contributors to our economic success. However, we are also aware that diversity and inclusion are hard won. Business leaders and companies alike must work harder with clear intentions to increase diversity of our membership at the Chamber to better represent our business and diverse communities we serve.

We have had to take stock and look at our own policies and practices to make changes. We know as an organization, we are just at the beginning of this journey and seeing real progress will be slow. This requires everyone to be patient. Be prepared to listen, learn, share and act with intentions. Every member is responsible to make their contribution if we are going to be successful.

Over the past year, we have seen examples of collaborative effort and inclusiveness from diverse businesses, government, community and not-for-profit organizations as we sought creative ways to remain in business and thrive. Such actions took courageous leadership and passion on the part of everyone bringing their authentic voices and diverse perspectives to the table. This was a unique opportunity where we worked in a manner which we have never done before.

Even though there were significant challenges during the heart of the crisis, we can also celebrate the small successes. This was evident by the new businesses and new members who joined us, including those who remained members with the Chamber. We are delighted to share that, for the first time in our Chamber’s history, we have an even more diverse Board of Directors. They are willing to lend their time, skills and knowledge to our organization. This will serve to strengthen the Chamber and lend further credibility to the diversity and inclusions which we are taking forward in our organization.

The work of the Chamber is not in the hands of a few; we want to capitalize on growing diversity of our city and province. We also want to make every effort to win over the confidence and trust of those communities who have been marginalized and left behind for such a long time. It is our intention to collaborate with organizations of difference. To achieve this, businesses will need to be more open and transparent. We must cultivate and grow a much more visibly diverse membership that is reflective of our city.

We want to build a vibrant and robust business community where young business owners––who are versed in the knowledge of technological change, agility, adaptability and resiliency––can join us and share their expertise as we move forward together.

Our goal is to be intentional and to take action that will drive inclusive conversations, challenge discrimination and remove systemic barriers, which have long been a hinderance to progress for some. We want our organization to offer a safe space where all members can feel included. This will enable them to unlock their true potential and drive economic growth, prosperity and sustainability.

*Quote from Deloitte Canada 175, 2019

< Back to Articles | Topics: From the President

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