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.

Contact Ian Munro at 574-6278 or imunro@dnronline.com. Follow Ian on Twitter @IanMunroDNR

(2) comments

mattnamyj

Diversity of what? Is color of skin the only criteria? What about religion, height, weight, eye color? I guess Dr. King's dream is long forgotten?

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Donald

Perhaps I can be of some help, Mr. Mattnamyl. Once all of the for-public-consumption blather about increasing the labor supply being good for the community is set aside, diversity, in this case, means a diversity of imported or developed cheap labor for the purpose of suppressing wages. As a cheap labor open borders lobby it is only natural that the Chamber would jump on the ‘diversity’ bandwagon as a cover for their real objective. Mr. Tamberrino inadvertently highlights this when he is quoted as saying, “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,†What is being said here is that the chamber’s goal is to alleviate the necessity for local business members to have to – are you ready for it? – compete for labor. One has to wonder when there will be an eventual push to return to child labor in America for the more menial, repetitive jobs adults “won’t doâ€. After all, child labor was a normal and expected societal good through the millennia, wasn’t it?

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