It's the last day of October, which is National Diversity Awareness Month, and area leaders recognized diversity in a variety of ways this month.
Business leaders also said that one of the keys to success is a diverse workplace, and that’s practiced in a variety of ways locally.
Urban League awards
On Tuesday, the Urban League of Chattanooga hosted its 31st annual Equal Opportunity Day event to celebrate more than three decades of empowerment in the Chattanooga community and present awards to individual and corporate leaders who have championed equal opportunity, civil rights or social justice.
Hospice of Chattanooga got the Inclusion by Design Award, which goes to a company whose employee base is diverse and whose services are provided regardless of ethnicity or ability to pay.
Chattanooga Room in the Inn got the Community Impact Award, which goes to an organization that elevates the community's standard of living and contributes to the overall quality of life.
Walter F. Williams, who served as a judge in Chattanooga City Court for eight years, received the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award because he has forged a "rare but effective form of social justice" during his tenure as judge, according to a summary of the award recipients.
What is diversity?
The average person’s idea of diversity might be mainly centered around the inclusion of different races in the workplace.
But in the past couple of decades, the concept has evolved to include an array of differences, such as age, race, ethnicity, gender, disabilities and sexual orientation.
Diversity means understanding and appreciating differences, local officials said.
Today’s workforce is more diverse in age than ever before in history, he said.
It includes people born nearly 40 years apart. And by 2020, 15 percent of the city’s population and 12 percent of the county’s population will be made up of Latinos.
Erlanger's diversity efforts
Some companies, such as Erlanger, have employees who provide leadership in the area of diversity.
Liz Appling is the diversity officer for Erlanger Health System, and leaders said they are proud of their work to focus on diversity.
Appling provides leadership and oversight in efforts to promote and sustain a respectful and inclusive culture within the organization, she said.
"I believe diversity should be an important initiative in any organization, therefore encouraging an environment where employees experience an opportunity for personal and organizational success while working in a supportive culture," she said via email.
Diversity is important to maximize quality patient care and achieve excellence in customer service, she also said.
"At Erlanger, we believe diversity is important in the workplace and that no individual should, on the grounds of race, religion, gender, color, creed, national origin, age or handicap status, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination in its employment practices," she said.
Erlanger also practices diversity through partnerships with minority businesses and programs, such as Supplier Diversity Program, Language Services Program and Erlanger Diversity Network Group.
"These initiatives help promote cultural and linguistic health care services, increase the participation of regional and minority businesses, and encourage discussion regarding issues of culture as it relates to diversity throughout the organization," she said.
Click here to read more about how local businesses are practicing and defining diversity.
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