Diverse Business Council: 2021 Diversity Summit
by Khadijah Torbert
November 3, 2021
October 14, 2021, about 100 attendees ranging from business owners, vendors, employees, managers, and executives gathered inside the Bryant Conference Center for the 7th Annual Diversity Summit put on each year by the Diverse Business Council.
This year's theme was “Magnifying Diverse Businesses”. Attendees learned about Removing the Barriers to Equity and Inclusion from Dr. James King, Jr. Associate Dean for the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion of The University of Alabama Culverhouse College of Business, and keynote speaker, Mr. Mamadou Diop, General Manager of Operations for Amazon-BHM1 who spoke about Creating an Inclusive Work Environment.
After a Chamber update by West Alabama Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Jim Page, he provided insight on having those “very direct” conversations with some minority leaders in our community over recent weeks, specifically black men in the community who he pointed out is an underrepresented group in the chamber. He says, “We've done a lot of listening. I've done a lot of listening. But I still have a lot to learn. And that's going to happen when we talk to each other, but more importantly, when we listen to each other. That's what today is about is listening to each other.” Page challenged those in attendance moving forward to not just have “diversity, equity and inclusion for the tagline of simply checking a box”. He ended by saying if we do that this community is going to be an even greater place to live, work, play and raise a family.
DBC Chair Mildred Black, CEO Founder of People Optimum Consulting, LLC gave the purpose behind events like this, to create awareness of minority-owned businesses in West Alabama while highlighting opportunities for women and men of color. She asked the room to look at their directors, senior leadership, and management teams and think about the perspectives not being heard. She said, “This is an area of opportunity to expand DEI efforts, connectedness is key.” She said leaders and managers need to go beyond the step of bringing people together who look different but to really look at policies and practices.
Guest speaker Dr. James King Jr., had an interactive approach for the crowd by going around the room with Q&A about ‘Moving the Diversity Needle”, with the main point of “Acceptable Differences”. Meaning, unraveling harmful workplace preferences and habits, to create an inclusive culture where everyone is seen and heard.
“Behind the commitment to diversity is real work. It’s not about just checking a box, it is ensuring that each person is successful in the workplace and giving them tools to do so,” said Keynote Speaker, Mamadou Diop. He shared the three C’s of an evolving working environment, Courage, Willful Courtesy, and Commitment. Diop wanted those in the room to “have the courage to believe and say a commitment to diversity is the right thing to do. Have a genuine curiosity to listen and learn about diversity — sometimes that involves having some tough conversations, and doing something and committing to it.” He emphasized to employers that spending the time to invest in their diverse talent, creates opportunities for them to grow inside and outside of the organization that will truly impact their lives and the communities in which they live.
View the full recording of the Diversity Summit live stream sponsored by Bryant Conference Center, here.
We’d like to thank all of our sponsors including our Presenting Sponsors: Cadence Bank and The University of Alabama College of Continuing Studies, Gold Sponsors: Bryant Bank, Stillman College, and the Tuscaloosa Association of Realtors, Meal Sponsor: Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports, Speaker Sponsor: Buffalo Rock Company/Pepsi-Cola, Table Sponsors: TTL, Inc., City of Tuscaloosa, Vendors: Cadence Bank, The University of Alabama College of Continuing Studies, BankFirst, Immediate, Farmers Insurance, Nothing Bundt Cakes.
About the Diverse Business Council
In 2012, the Chamber launched the Minority Business Council, but recently changed its name to the Diverse Business Council. Although its mission is to foster the growth and competitiveness of minority owned businesses in West Alabama, DBC provides inclusive programming that is beneficial to a diverse workforce. For more info, visit DBC.