The Strengths of a Diverse Workforce and the Challenges in our Way
Submitted by Diana Quarry, Womble Bond Dickinson
Our October luncheon program focused on some of the most critical yet challenging issues our membership currently faces. In addition to promoting this year’s Queen City in Pink campaign, an initiative targeted at raising breast cancer awareness across the Charlotte region, the luncheon program spoke to issues of diversity, inclusion and equity. After a moving personal account about how inclusion – or a lack thereof – can have lifelong impacts from CREW Charlotte President Adrienne Bain, attendees were also treated to a powerful video about how diversity and inclusion affects everyone in the workforce, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status or other variables. (A link to the video can be found here.) Members and guests then heard from Dr. Corliss Brown Thompson, Associate Teaching Professor at Northeastern University’s Graduate School of Education College of Professional Studies, Chara O’Neal, Counsel and Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein, and Fred Dodson, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing Partnership. The panelists spoke broadly about what “diversity” truly encompasses, the differences between diversity, inclusion and equity, and the wide-ranging impact of implicit bias. Mr. Dodson also spoke to the importance of focusing on what makes a community unique when developing real estate in the area. The panelists also offered specific tips and strategies for how to improve diversity in the workplace, how to spot patterns of implicit bias and discrimination, and how to monitor whether an employer’s diversity and inclusion efforts are having a meaningful impact.