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Zachary Chamber and City Director of Economic Development Attend Economic Inclusion Symposium

Posted by zachary on September 10, 2023

Zachary Chamber and City Director of Economic Development Attend Economic Inclusion Symposium

Did you know the Baton Rouge area ranks 39th out of 40 southern U.S. cities of similar size for economic diversity? Ashleigh McHugh, City of Zachary's Director of Economic Development, and Regina Porter, Director of the Zachary Chamber of Commerce, attended the Economic Inclusion Symposium hosted by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. The symposium provided businesses and community leaders with valuable data and a course of action for increasing and supporting diversity in the workplace and the economy. BRAC's President and CEO Adam Knapp explained that economic inclusion numbers directly correlate to economic development and job growth, so it is absolutely crucial that we address the disparities in southern cities like Baton Rouge. "Having a more diverse population is associated with greater levels of entrepreneurship, innovation and overall economic growth. Studies show that regions with lower racial disparities also experience greater job growth." ExxonMobil was recognized as a Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (DEI) local leader and won the 2023 Large Business Diversity Star award for their impressive number of diverse suppliers and hosting the annual Drive Minority Business Accelerator program. 

It is important to note that a diverse workforce means making space for all races, but it also includes age, gender, religion, and neurodiversity (including those with autism, ADHD, Tourette's, dyslexia, and a range of other neurodiverse conditions.) Carmen West, the U.S. Chamber's Vice President of Equality of Opportunity Initiative addressed "our critical impediment," which is the ever-growing wealth gap and unequally distributed opportunities, particularly in the south due to lingering discrimination and bias. Businesses must realize diversity is not just a checkbox, but it fuels economic growth and humanity as a whole. Diverse teams outperform and attract far more talent than homogenous teams. Simply put, diversity is now the expectation, and homogenous businesses risk falling behind as the U.S. population is slated to become a minority majority by 2034.