Diversity Summit Tackles the Future of Work

The Diverse Business Council of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama held the 6th Annual Diversity Summit October 21, presented by Cadence Bank.

Focusing on the “Future of Work,” this year’s Diversity Summit featured a virtual panel of experts on a range of relevant topics for business and community leaders.

Mildred Black Hooks, Founder of People Optimum Consulting and 2020 Chair of the Diverse Business Council, kicked off the summit with a session on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Hooks noted that by 2050, 50 percent of our country’s population will be African American and people of color, and the call for diversity, equity, and inclusion has never been louder as it relates to the workplace.

“Diversity is bringing together the best and brightest to add value to the work that is being done,” Hooks said. “Working on embracing, capitalizing on, and optimizing what makes us unique.”

Michele Coley, Agency Owner, the Allstate Coley Agency, and a member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, discussed Strategy in the workplace.

“Culture is very important when you’re being strategic,” Coley said. “You have to be able to think and see beyond.”

Describing herself as a “classic micromanager,” Coley explained that the COVID-19 pandemic allowed her to see her staff working remotely and provided the ability to take the next step forward, and she now has employees working in other cities.

Coley said it’s important to think about your competition, technology, and shifts in culture. “If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready,” she explained.

Tim Lewis, President & CEO, TALA Professional Services, discussed Innovation with summit attendees, and explained that thinking and acting differently is something we all must do every day.

“We may be successful in what we’re doing now, but we need to be thinking about what’s around the corner,” he said. “Old ways won’t open new doors.”

Lewis recommended looking at the services you’re currently offering and make adjustments, whether they are incremental or disruptive changes.

Tripp Powell, Owner, Powell Enterprises, and a Chamber Board member, discussed Collaboration, particularly in respect to team environments.

“Ask what you can learn from other team members,” he recommended. “How is their background different from yours.”

Powell said that for him, being too comfortable was a problem, and getting out of your comfort zone is the key to success.

The 2020 Diversity Summit was presented by Cadence Bank.

Gold Sponsors were Bryant Bank, Home Instead Senior Care, Stillman College, Tuscaloosa Association of Realtors, and Whitesky Communications, LLC.

Speaker Sponsor was Buffalo Rock Company/Pepsi-Cola.

Table Sponsors were Allstate Coley Agency, TTL, Inc., Tuscaloosa Orthopedic & Joint Institute, and The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences.

Vendors were BankFirst, Kristen Amerson Youth Foundation, The Legacy Connection, and Renasant Bank.