For many years, the Whitby Chamber of Commerce has been committed to producing diverse and inclusive programming that speaks to the needs of all our members. It began in 2016/17 when we launched and hosted our first discussion regarding Mental Health in the Workplace in collaboration with Ontario Shores. And year over year we’ve hosted events focused on business areas of accessibility (in partnership with organizations like the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, DiscoverAbility) and featured several mental health speaker events like our Mental Health luncheon with Traci Melchor, to engage our membership. It became clear that there was a need for more dynamic programming that would empower members with more knowledge and resources to engage with and address the challenges faced by visible and non-visible minorities in business.
WCC enthusiastically embraced this opportunity in 2019 when they committed to hosting an annual event focused on key themes related to diversity, equity and inclusion. Given the impending AODA legislation impacting the business community, their first focus area was determined to be accessibility. In 2020, in partnership with the Abilities Centre, they launched Accessibility in Action with the intent of creating Inclusion Collisions annually.
Soon after, the DEI Committee was established in the Spring of 2020 to provide more impactful programming to our members. A three-year strategy was developed, which included various types of support, including the launch of our DEI Resource Page! This web page provides our members with information on how best to promote accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion in their organizations. Check out Whitby Chamber of Commerce’s DEI Resource Page where we continue to curate and update content from the public domain.
Today, our annual Black History Month event is an integral pillar of WCC Signature Event programming. Check out our third annual event! These efforts have added depth to WCC’s work, while also providing practical and creative options to address the challenges faced by the business community; i.e. our 2022 DEI event Twisted System: Harsh Truths of Hiring Today. Thank you to our DEI Committee, partners, communities and sponsors that continue to support this level of programming for the business community!
In the coming years, our efforts will focus on education, outreach and representation that more holistically and completely represents the various facets of the WCC community. We are so excited to be building on the momentum of these past years to develop more intentional and substantial programming that speaks to the unique needs of various minorities in the WCC community. And we’re so thankful for ongoing additions to our committee!
When I consider the work the DEI committee has planned, it becomes clear that our individual “otherness” is a great power when connected. Our individualities strengthen all of us, broaden our horizons, and create amazing new opportunities to learn and grow when they are brought together in a positive and empowering way. Stay connected with us to learn more about how WCC plans to support these efforts.
– Preeti Sangwan, Policy and Advocacy Advisor, Whitby Chamber of Commerce