I read with sincere interest the Loudoun Times-Mirror’s July 8th article regarding the Loudoun Chamber and our work to support diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives within our business community, as well as the July 15 opinion piece about the same.
We do not agree with many of the statements and assertions contained in these articles and appreciate that the Loudoun Times-Mirror has already published multiple corrections to the original story. I also appreciate this opportunity to further “set the record straight.”
My intent is not to refight old battles. While I and my leadership at the Loudoun Chamber have made no claim of perfection, and looking back there are things we could have done better, we have no intention of allowing the events of last winter to discourage us from the important work of creating a more equitable, inclusive and prosperous Loudoun community for all.
For the past four years, the Loudoun Chamber has made it a priority to improve our diversity and inclusion performance and to support our members on their DEI journeys. We are proud of the many positive changes we have adopted, including the very successful Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative.
Other actions include adopting two policies regarding diversity and inclusion, one that governs all Chamber operations and another for our Board of Directors and other leadership positions.
We also created a Board-level governance committee, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy Committee, to provide oversight and accountability over our DEI policies, programs and practices.
Other diversity and inclusion initiatives that our Chamber has accomplished include:
• In February of 2018, the Loudoun Chamber organized eight Loudoun business organizations to issue a joint statement condemning KKK-related fliers distributed to Loudoun residents.
• In July of 2019, our Board of Directors launched the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee and issued a “Statement of values on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.”
• In September 2019, President Tony Howard organized a forum featuring Chamber Executives and Board Chairs from Virginia, Maryland and D.C. to discuss Chamber-led DEI initiatives.
• In June 2020, Howard issued a statement condemning the murder of George Floyd, while the Chamber became a founding member of the U.S. Chamber’s “Equality of Opportunity initiative.”
• The Chamber’s Board of Directors adopted a policy to ensure that diversity and inclusion outcomes were integrated into all 2021 Public Policy Positions.
• That same summer, the Chamber introduced 13 new Business Directory categories, allowing members to be listed by the business owner’s race, gender, orientation and other identities.
• In October 2020, the Chamber hosted a public forum with diversity experts on “Why Businesses that Embrace Diversity Are Positioned to Thrive in 2021”
Most important, our Board has invested in the Chamber’s diversity and inclusion performance by engaging one of the nation’s most respected DEI training and consulting firms, to help us identify strategies for improvement. We have begun work with that consultant and are excited to see where this journey takes us, and how it will benefit our membership and our community.
While the Loudoun Chamber is fully committed to engaging in the necessary, and sometimes difficult work of diversity, equity and inclusion, we recognize these are challenging conversations for all. We are, however, resolved in our commitment to the values of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Creating an inclusive culture and community is a journey and we welcome all who share these values to work with us to make Loudoun a better place.
Tony Howard, President & CEO
Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce