Diversity good for communities, good for business, chamber told

Published: 5/21/2016 5:50 AM
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By Stephanie Bettick

THE NEWS-ITEM stephanie_b@newsitem.com

SHAMOKIN — In a city such as Shamokin with a multi-cultural heritage, business leaders have the opportunity to be community leaders when facing the challenges of changing demographics, which was the topic of discussion Tuesday afternoon at the Brush Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Inequity Analysis Training for Central PA founder Kathryn Bullington was invited by chamber director Corinne Betzko to serve as speaker. A 2010 Penn State graduate with degrees in international politics and international agriculture, Bullington lives in Danville and works as a freelance writer.

She founded Inequity Analysis in 2014 and says it is “a civic engagement initiative aimed at starting community conversations around the challenges and assets of multi-cultural communities, educating community leaders about Undoing Racism(R) training, and raising funds to provide this training in Central PA.”

Bullington said, “In 2014, I started organizing for our community leaders to take a training called Undoing Racism. Undoing Racism focuses on community leaders, and they give community leaders a language and framework to talk about racism and exclusion, and they’ve been used all across the country.”

Multiculturalism can be an asset or a liability in a community, according to Bollinger. She gave statistics, such as “diverse businesses are 35 percent more likely to outperform competitors.”

She told the chamber that those that bring in a diverse staff have a better understanding of how they can serve the community. With diversity in communities gradually increasing, this allows business leaders to understand the culture and history of the changing demographics within their community.

Diversity can also serve as a liability, according to Bullington. In dealing with community problems, the last line and those that take the brunt of the result of discrimination in a society are the police, she said.

“Communities can really alleviate that pressure off of police by having that leadership building community that is accepting of our diverse population,” Bullington said.

One of the things Bullington stressed was that it is important for leadership to be local, because it is local leaders that best have vision and insight for the future.

“You all are leaders here. You are key because you have positions that help to define the character of your communities, the values of your communities and also the direct influence of your communities,” Bullington told the chamber. “Our community leaders have power over access to opportunities and resources, and that’s really the definition of political power, is having the ability to distribute access to opportunities and resources.”

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