Penn Hosts Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Diversity Workshop

Recognizing the importance of inclusion and diversity in their business practices, more than 70 members of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce gathered at the University of Pennsylvania on April 5 to discuss how to successfully address unconscious bias and foster constructive relationships in the work environment.

“Penn is one of our diversity champions,” said Lisa Crutchfield, senior vice president of advocacy and public affairs at the Chamber.

The GPCC Diversity & Inclusion Network chose Penn to host the networking event because the University has a longstanding commitment to diversity and a renowned cultural anthropologist and race scholar who literally wrote the book on difficult discussions teaches at Penn. John L. Jackson Jr., dean of the School of Social Policy & Practice is author of Impolite Conversations on Race, Politics, Sex, Money and Religion.

Jackson was invited to speak at the workshop and to lead an interactive dialogue on “Innovation and Inclusion” to address both concerns and fears about broaching topics of diversity at work.

Speaking to the audience of business professionals, many of whom are charged with leading diversity training initiatives, Jackson said, “Folks who aren’t thinking critically about this, not the people in this room, imagine that [diversity] ends at demographics. They say we want people who look different from us, but who act just like we do.”

At the conclusion of his speech, Jackson, who is the Richard Perry Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor at Penn, engaged in a question-and-answer session on diversity and inclusion issues.

“We wanted to partner with the Chamber to provide an opportunity for others to learn about the importance of this initiative,” said Jeffrey Cooper, vice president of Penn’s Office of Government and Community Affairs. “Dean Jackson is a leader in educating people on best practices in this area.”

Penn is a sponsor of the GPCC Diverse Vendor Database, a searchable online tool that helps member businesses identify certified minority, disabled, veteran and LGBT owned companies for contracting opportunities in the 11-county Greater Philadelphia region.

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