The Dayton area business community is uniquely positioned as a regional leadership network that will help guide our region through equity and racial injustice changes which will better our community. Business leaders have the platform to create real systemic change that supports workforce equity, philanthropic equity, and supplier equity. Doing so will demonstrate a significant step in implementing change to address the racial injustice issues that became a part of a national dialogue this past summer. Businesses have the platform to create real change, but we need our community partners to continue to help educate and inform us about the needs, issues and challenges.

Private businesses and our public partners have identified partnerships to heal our communities and have worked toward a greater good. Our public sector colleagues are key partners in this endeavor, as they are looked to as leaders to bring issues to the table and disseminate solutions throughout the community.

Mayor Nan Whaley and I have been regularly meeting with the Black clergy leaders in Dayton to better understand the unique challenges of their congregations and the importance the church plays in the community. These meetings have been enlightening and helpful in understanding their unique needs and the role the business community can play. I’m proud that the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce ran toward the issues of equity and racial injustice, advocating for racism to be declared a public health crisis, and hosting a racial injustice roundtable to identify better ways that business leaders can improve and create equity. Eighty-seven employers signed on to the chamber’s advocacy statement calling for racism to be declared a public health emergency, and subsequently seventy-four attendees joined us for a roundtable to discuss the racial injustice. This strong commitment to improvement and continued learning from our business leaders is a model of integrity and improvement.

Business leaders know we cannot change what we are unwilling to confront. The importance of having tough conversations at every level of an organization, but particularly amongst leadership, is key to addressing this issue. As business leaders, we know discomfort is inevitable, but silence is no longer an option to enact real change.

It can’t end here. The chamber is committed to linking arms with the business community and working together to address these issues, better our places of employment and set the tone for the community at-large. The chamber is working directly with our business members to develop a best practices model, educating our members on equity leadership, advocating for real change, and supporting our community through supplier diversity. We know the business community has the leadership platform, and we are willing to step up and use our unique position to create change and betterment for all.

Chris Kershner, CAE
President & CEO
Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce

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