This week, the Loudoun Times-Mirror published an article regarding the Loudoun Chamber and our work to support and advance diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives within our business community.
While the article failed to provide a complete and accurate picture of the facts regarding the Loudoun Chamber’s actions and accomplishments, a concern we have brought to the newspaper’s attention, we do acknowledge that mistakes have occurred.
The Loudoun Chamber’s leadership’s intent in launching and supporting the former Black Business Empowerment Committee was to learn and grow together. That is why we devoted substantial resources towards the BBEC’s development and success. We are disappointed we failed to realize the full potential of this initiative. Our hope is that our future efforts will be met with more success.
For the past four years, the Loudoun Chamber has made it a priority to improve our diversity and inclusion performance and to support our members on their DEI journeys. We are proud of the many positive changes we have adopted, including the very successful Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative.
We also created a Board-level governance committee, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy Committee, to provide oversight and accountability over our DEI policies, programs and practices.
Other diversity and inclusion initiatives that our Chamber has accomplished include:
- In February of 2018, the Loudoun Chamber organized eight Loudoun business organizations to issue joint statement condemning KKK-related fliers distributed to Loudoun residents.
- In July of 2019, our Board of Directors launched the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee and issued a “Statement of values on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.”
- In September 2019, President Tony Howard organized a forum featuring Chamber Executives and Board Chairs from Virginia, Maryland and D.C. to discuss Chamber-led DEI initiatives.
- In June 2020, Howard Issued a statement condemning the murder of George Floyd, while the Chamber became a founding member of the U.S. Chamber’s “Equality of Opportunity initiative.”
- The Chamber’s Board of Directors adopted a policy to ensure that diversity and inclusion outcomes were integrated into all 2021 Public Policy Positions.
- That same summer, the Chamber introduced 13 new Business Directory categories, allowing members to be listed by the business owner’s race, gender, orientation and other identities.
- In October 2020, the Chamber hosted a public forum with diversity experts on “Why Businesses that Embrace Diversity Are Positioned to Thrive in 2021”
Most important, our Board has invested in the Chamber’s diversity and inclusion performance by hiring one of the nation’s most respected DEI Training and Consulting firms, to help us identify areas and strategies for improvement. We have begun work with that Consultant and are excited to see where this journey takes us, and how it will benefit our membership and our community.
While the Loudoun Chamber is fully committed to engaging in the necessary, and sometimes difficult work of diversity, equity and inclusion, we recognize these are challenging conversations, and we may fail before we succeed. But we will not allow those mistakes to cloud our commitment to racial and social justice, nor will we allow those who do not share our values to discourage us from this journey.
– Loudoun Chamber Leadership