By: Javar Colon, Business Development Specialist, Lancaster Chamber
The Lancaster Chamber has elevated the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion conversation to a new level as part of our 2022-2024 Strategic Priorities. There are three broad areas of focus: recognizing our own challenges with team diversity, supporting our business’ needs for creating intentional DEI plans and our role in the community’s advancement toward a more equitable culture. As part of our role in supporting a diverse workforce and their engagement in our work, the Lancaster Chamber has launched a program titled, the Underrepresented Business Partnership.
To learn more, we answered the most asked questions below and we’ll share with you the incredible business leaders that have joined us in this journey!
What is the philosophy for the Underrepresented Business Partnership?
Our Lancaster Chamber has launched an initiative, Words Into Action: Underrepresented Business Partnership, as part of our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion strategy, to deliver on two main goals.
- Goal one: Support engagement and network development for business owners traditionally underrepresented in the Chamber.
- Goal two: Gain feedback from this partnership to identify gaps in our offerings and determine how we can better meet the needs of underrepresented businesses.
Can you explain how we engaged businesses for the Cohort?
In order to partner with 10 underrepresented businesses, we utilized Assets’ “Lancaster’s Diverse & Inclusive Business Directory”, as well as recommendations from the Lancaster Chamber staff, in addition to a recommendation from a business participating in this partnership. The Diverse & Inclusive Business Directory created on ASSETS’ website includes tags to signify if a business is woman-owned, BIPOC-owned, etc.
We also met with each business to ensure that the time commitment would be reasonable for each business owner, in addition to ensuring that each business owner was interested in helping us launch this initiative. Lastly, our new member orientation provided us with the opportunity to further discuss expectations, as well as recommendations from the businesses on how to achieve our objectives together.
How does the implementation of this Cohort align with the Chamber’s DEI guiding statement?
The Lancaster Chamber recognizes the strengths diversity provides communities, and we value new perspectives as we seek to foster trust as well as mutual respect throughout our entire business community.
NOW, let’s meet the Cohort!
Melisa Baez, CEO
What is Elume? ELUME exists to inspire entrepreneurs by creating practical, simple, and high-quality sustainable products.
Frederick Waller, Owner
What do you do? Full-Service Tax and Financial Planning business with over 800 Individual and Small business clients and over $25 million in assets under management.
Elizabeth Byler (they/them), Creative Image Director
Describe your business: Eden Environments designs inclusive and sustainable workplace interiors so that everybody can flourish.
Judelyne Bataille, Owner
What do you do? Beauty by Judelyne offers a professional & unparalleled service and inspiration to all her clients – with a modern approach to cosmetology and as a Licensed esthetician & lash extensions specialist.
Dr. Sekora Wallace-Henderson (she/her), Owner
Describe your business: Aligned for Life Chiropractic helps the community live a more well balanced quality life by removing nervous system interference.
Starleisha Michelle Gingrich, Founder
What is Disrupt Theatre Company? Brings plays by BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color) playwrights to the BIPOC community of Lancaster, at accessible venues and affordable prices.
Mr. Martin Wayman aka Marty, Owner
What do you do? Lancaster County Deck Preservers is an exterior Deck and Fence Care/ weatherproofing company.
Dr. Amber Sessoms (she/her), Principal and Founder
Describe your business: Natural Inclination LLC supports courageous leaders in cultivating liberatory spaces for individuals to be their full, authentic selves by facilitating courageous conversations about justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) to help individuals identify how their lived experiences inform their communication skills, emotional responses, coping skills, and perspective-taking.
MONARCH ENTERPRISE INC.
Aaron Camara, Owner & President
What is Monarch Enterprise Inc.? Monarch Enterprise, Inc. specializes in the complete construction and maintenance of commercial, retail and restaurant structures. Our services include: Design build, project management, tenant fit out, vanilla box and remodels.
LUSH BAZAAR (NEW NAME LAUNCHES FEBRUARY 22!)
Describe your business: Lush Bazaar is a sustainable, ethical retail brand, that focuses on hand crafted pieces and fair wage employment. Lush Bazaar has a staff of 15 people in India, and over 30 contracted artisans that work with Lush Bazaar to create handmade, unique fashion and lifestyle products. Lush Bazaar was started in Lancaster Pa. and now works globally.
The Lancaster Chamber recognizes the complexities of confronting our history, improving our present, and leading a more unified future for our Lancaster County business community. This partnership is not an attempt to reach a final solution, but rather, the start of building a foundation which stands strong with our Chamber for the next 150 years, and beyond.
There is work to be done to intentionally improve the diversity, equity and inclusiveness of our Chamber, but we are committed to engaging in this work with the support of our Board of Trustees’, our staff members, our DE&I Committee, and most importantly, our valued members as well as traditionally underrepresented businesses/ business leaders throughout Lancaster County. You have heard enough of our words, please be part of this journey as we begin to consistently take action!
The Lancaster Chamber is proud to be celebrating its 150th Anniversary this year, alongside our business community. In the month of February, our content theme is Black History Month – raising the voices and stories of Black business owners and leaders especially, while lifting up the incredible diversity of businesses across Lancaster County.