To conclude our yearend roundup series on your Chattanooga Chamber’s 2022 accomplishments, this week TREND looks at progress made by our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team. Under the leadership of VP Lorne Steedley, the DE&I group demonstrated continued momentum on cultivating a prosperous business sector where diversity is welcomed and celebrated.

At the annual Diversify Summit in June, keynote speaker Amy Liu, Vice President and Director of the Brookings Institute, spoke to a virtual audience of over 100 Chamber members, supporters, and other business leaders. Liu emphasized market-based incentives for building inclusive economies, and highlighted several opportunities to build diverse talent, enhance supplier diversity, and expand community wealth in Chattanooga.

Other successful DEI events this year included the Women’s Unity Breakfast in November, which provided valuable information on ways to increase the strength, achievement and influence of women in the workplace. And beginning in July, the Minority Financial Literacy Series offered professional development for minority entrepreneurs on navigating money management in business. Over the course of five meetings, Bethany Gardner-Grant of Regions Bank introduced minority business owners to the steps and tactics needed to develop and maintain their banking relationships. Finally, in October the Chamber hosted a virtual fireside chat with April Lomax, Director of Workforce Diversity at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, focused on BCBST’s demonstrated success at recruiting, retaining and developing neurodiverse talent as well as workers with disabilities.

Looking ahead to the new year, the Chamber’s DE&I team will partner with several major employers on the launch of a pilot project to grow Chattanooga’s ecosystem for supplier diversity. In a TREND column from earlier this month, Lorne Steedley makes the business case for a diverse local supply chain and invites area companies to get involved in the forthcoming pilot.

Learn more about the Chattanooga Chamber’s DE&I efforts over the last year, how this work builds on Velocity2040‘s community-wide vision to foster opportunities for all Chattanoogans to thrive, in our annual report. And be sure to check out TREND‘s recent recaps on the best of 2022—from the Chamber’s economic development group, the marketing-engagement team, and membership services.

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