Since March, my thoughts and actions have revolved almost entirely around the impact of COVID-19 on our region, our employers and citizens. And while the state of our new reality has felt overwhelming at times, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership has stepped up to assist in a meaningful way. Our goal to provide up–to–date, clear, concise and trusted information to employers continues to drive our daily work and the appreciation of the business community has kept the BNP team motivated and moving forward.
However, this past week I, like many others, am severely troubled by the state of our nation. On a personal level I feel profound sadness for the death of George Floyd. His murder rocked me to my core. What’s happening now to our cities and streets is also devastating. I stand with all the protesters demanding a more just and equitable society. But as the daughter and sister of police officers, my heart also aches for police officers that do the right thing each and every day and for the business owners that will suffer further hardship from the destruction of their properties and goods.
In these dark days, I ask myself “what more can I do?”
My personal reflection inspired this note to you today. As a supporter of the Partnership, I want you to know what BNP is doing to advance racial equity here in our region. Our board and staff have made a strategic investment and commitment to this work four years ago.
Here’s what we will be doing in 2020 and 2021:
- Develop and deploy Diversity, Equity & Inclusion business survey and self-assessment. (January 2021)
- Conduct our second Diversity and Inclusion Academy to provide employers with the technical assistance needed to begin their own formal Diversity, Equity & Inclusion program. (Fall 2020)
- Continue to execute the Diversity & Inclusion Executive Exchange program – a peer to peer facilitated learning opportunity for experienced Diversity, Equity & Inclusion leaders. (current and monthly)
- Conduct a virtual Diversity & Inclusion Symposium webinar series with national thought leaders and trainers. (Fall 2020)
- Execute the 2nd annual Diversity & Inclusion Symposium event. (June 8, 2021)
- Focus the work of Employ Buffalo Niagara on increasing awareness of quality jobs to both employers and job seekers, and removing barriers to earning family sustaining wages.
- Launch, in conjunction with the Federal Reserve, a Buffalo Niagara specific “benefits cliff calculator” that will serve individuals and employers looking to assist employees cross over the bridge to prosperity. (Summer 2020)
In partnership with the Racial Equity Roundtable, our vision is to provide technical assistance and support for employers committed to creating inclusive workplace cultures. And as is true with everything we do, our members have been generously funding this work through their dues and sponsorship. We have also been able to expand our work through the generous philanthropy of the Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo and the Walmart Foundation.
I have not seen a regional chamber anywhere in the country doing this level of D&I work. And I am proud of what we are doing, but in the light of recent events I know it’s not enough. So, I invite you to share what else your Buffalo Niagara Partnership can and should be doing to use our influence, and our collective privilege, to advance equity in this region and in our country.
I wish you all peace and good health.
President & CEO
Buffalo Niagara Partnership