By Hayley Robb, Building Kentucky
The business community has great influence in shaping economic inclusion and increasing racial equity across the Commonwealth.
Racial disparities limit so many from access to good jobs, financial resources, education and healthcare that allow for wellbeing and prosperity.
Diversity in the workspace spurs growth and innovation. When people from varying backgrounds come together to share thoughts and experiences, it allows breakthroughs in business, creative thinking and industry progress to occur. Business leaders across the state have been taking steps to advance racial equity and inclusion.
How Kentucky Leaders Are Taking Action
Kentucky Chamber Of Commerce Who’s Hiring Campaign
The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce launched a Who’s Hiring campaign and database in March 2020 to help identify Fair Chance Employers (also known as Second Chance Employers). Employers who hire people in recovery or who have been recently incarcerated are identified by location and available jobs.
To identify your business as a Fair Chance Employer or to find jobs available, visit https://www.kychamber.com/news/coronavirus/covid-19-whos-hiring.
The Chamber also recently hosted an event discussing racial inequalities in the state and the need for systemic change.
University Of Kentucky UNITE Research Initiative
In October 2020, the United in True Racial Equity (UNITE) research initiative was launched at the University of Kentucky. The project is a $10 million commitment to research racial disparities and inequity across broad areas, which part of the comprehensive effort aimed at creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive university.
The research initiative required approval from the University Senate and aims to delve into racial disparities ranging from health to historical foundations of systemic racism.
Greater Louisville Inc. Racial Equity Pledge
Greater Louisville Inc. recently launched “Greater Louisville’s Racial Equity Pledge” to advance racial equity in the business community. Over 170 businesses have signed the pledge including Louisville & Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District, Louisville Regional Airport Authority, University of Louisville, Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs, LLP, and C2 Strategic Communications, which powers BuildingKentucky.com.
If interested in signing the pledge or finding out more information, visit greaterlouisville.com/racialequitypledge.
Five Ways Employers Can Make A Positive Impact On Racial Equity And Inclusion
There are plenty of best practices and policies that all industries and companies—large or small, local or global—can be taking to make a difference.
1. Create And Implement Formal Diversity, Equity And Inclusion Policies
Formal policy holds leadership accountable and company employees. Trainings, employee resource groups and leading from the top will reinforce these fundamental rules and guidelines.
2. Conduct Focused Recruiting And Empower Black Talent
Incorporating specific diversity, equity and inclusion goals into the recruitment and retention process helps foster a strong, diverse workforce.
3. Support Black-Owned And Minority-Owned Businesses Whenever Possible
Supporting Black-owned and minority-owned vendors and suppliers when possible can expand a company’s circle of diverse workplace environments and connections.
4. Highlight Business Results On Diversity, Equity And Inclusion
By championing transparency, company leaders allow for learning along the way. Companies should track metrics to relay progress to the team, stakeholders and community accordingly.
5. Provide Professional Development And Mentorship Opportunities To Build Empathy
Mentorship can help develop young leaders and talent within the company and reveal unconscious bias to employees providing the mentorship too. Community outreach to specific groups and areas of the region is another way to get connected to new faces.