HARRISONBURG — The Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce will hold its first diversity in business workforce event on Wednesday.
The four-hour program will feature speakers who will address different aspects of the business advantages to having a diverse workforce at the Lucy F. Simms Continuing Education Center in Harrisonburg.
The “Diversify Your Workforce to Strengthen Your Business” event was organized by the chamber’s diversity council to be a “tangible” source of good for the community, said Frank Tamberrino, chamber president and CEO.
Originally, the council was charged with helping small- and minority-owned businesses with access to capital as well as economic and business opportunities, he said.
However, as the labor shortage continues and many businesses have found staffing increasingly difficult, the council saw another way to help, he said.
“What can organizations like the chamber do to really help local businesses, small and large, find an additional pool of labor versus essentially stealing from each other,” Tamberrino asked.
Workforce seemed to address both the social element and business element of the council, he said.
And hiring a more diverse workforce can help businesses’ profitability as well as improve the community, said Chris Jones, chairman of the diversity council and a Harrisonburg City Council member.
“The diversity council is not an organization that focuses on the social issues,” he said. “We have tons of those — we want to focus on the business issues that affect the community.”
Diverse workers include those of any race, color, religion or creed, sex, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, veteran status, genetic information or immigration status, Jones said.
The hiring of a diverse workforce can improve a company’s connection to the community and customer loyalty, as well as improve the brand, he said.
But the economic advantages of hiring a diverse workforce can help to solve social issues as well, Jones said.
“One of the reasons we have so many social issues when it comes to race, color, sex, religion, is because people aren’t gainfully employed; people aren’t treated fairly,” he said.
Jones revitalized the diversity council last fall and shortly afterward began working on organizing Wednesday’s event during the beginning of the year.
Over 80 people had registered as of Monday afternoon, Jones said.
“We’re hoping to get to 100,” he said.
Registration is free and can be done on the chamber’s website, www.hrchamber.org.
The chamber’s diversity council typically meets on the last Wednesday of every month and is open for chamber members to attend, Jones said.