Business groups lead efforts to stem erosion of U.S. diversity

Leaders of two area chambers of commerce have moved aggressively into the national spotlight over racial equality, launching separate but pointedly spe­cific strategies to stem the tide of black and Hispanic distrust that lately has consumed much of Americans’ concern about where our efforts should go next.

Terri Kimble, president and CEO of Chandler Chamber of Commerce

Terri Kimble, president and CEO of the Chandler Chamber of Commerce, offered details on how her organization can help businesses—and Chandler residents—confront challenges today and in the future.

Ann Gill, who oversees work by Tempe Chamber members, said her group will collaborate with the U.S. Chamber in developing a compre­hensive plan of action.

Kimble said she’s focusing on dual challenges.

“The Chandler Chamber is guided by our mis­sion: To support business and our community by providing vital programs and services that attract and retain business while embracing diversity.

“We promote this mission by deepening our long-held commitment to inclusion and by finding new ways to listen, understand and build unity.

“With a country divided by fear, anger and frustration, I believe our commitment to diversity and inclusion has never been more important. In­dividuals of diverse backgrounds and cultures make Chandler a better place and allow us to serve our diverse business community better.

“Discrimination, injustice and violence allow no place for our business community to grow. Our communities are hurting, and we see it as our job to not only help them heal but to offer hope.

“As our nation struggles with equality and in­clusion issues, the Chandler Chamber will con­tinue to work with community leaders to identify opportunities that will generate lasting change— now and for years to come.

“We are committed to doing our part to pro­vide businesses equal access to high quality serv­ices no matter their race, religion, economic or ethnic background. As a business community, let’s be the agents of change and be different together.”

Ann Gill, president and CEO of Tempe Chamber of Commerce

Ann Gill says she plans similar initiatives. “We are partnering with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on a national move to address inequality of opportunity.

“The chamber will join the U.S. organization’s June 25 national town hall event, at which business and community leaders will discuss concrete actions that can be taken by government and the private sector to address inequality through education, employment, entrepreneurship and criminal justice reform.

Anne Gill, president and CEO of the Tempe group, said that as a partner on the U.S. chamber’s initiative, her organization will host local and industry dialogues to further the discussion.

“During this pivotal moment in our history, it is imperative that we bring community and business stakeholders together to collectively share perspectives and identify collaborative ways to bring about systemic change,” said Gill.

Also, she noted that comments by Suzanne Clark, president of the national chamber body, were thoughts that could be considered by local business-supportive groups, such as her own Tempe organization.

Said Clark:

“The moral case for greater diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace is indisputable, and there’s overwhelming evidence that greater diversity benefits the American economy, businesses, communities and employees.”

According to Gill, the efforts of the national initiative will build on the work already undertaken by the Tempe Chamber to support goals set for education and workforce strategies, public policy and business

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