Metro Atlanta business leaders mingled with a princess from Nigeria and government officials from France and Jamaica at a Friday night event aimed at bringing an international perspective on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
The summit was hosted by the ATL Airport Chamber, which represents businesses in the geographical area around the airport. HRH Princess Moradeun Ogunlana is an entrepreneur and consultant who splits her time between Lagos, Houston, Texas (where her children live) and the United Arab Emirates.
“I’ve witnessed firsthand the challenges and opportunities that diversity brings to our world. Diversity is not only about race, ethnicity, gender or religion or culture — it is also about perspective, experience, knowledge, skills and innovation,” Ogunlana told the group of business leaders. “Diversity is a source of strength, richness and creativity. It is also a necessity for survival and success in this 21st century.”
She noted that there is a business case for diversity, equity and inclusion, saying that employees who feel included are more productive, engaged and motivated. She also outlined eight ways leaders can incorporate DEI into their businesses:
- Change how candidates are recruited and vetted
- Educate leaders
- Create an inclusive workplace by ensuring that policies, practices and procedures are fair and that physical and virtual spaces are accessible
- Acknowledge and celebrate employee differences
- Value everyone’s voice and make sure they are heard
- Review all anti-discrimination policies, define acceptable behaviors and outline reporting and investigation procedures
- Communicate to stakeholders goals for diversity equity, inclusion and belonging
- Innovate and collaborate with others who share your vision for DEI
Her speech comes at a time when corporate diversity efforts in the U.S. are coming under fire. Conservative organizations have targeted major corporations and an Atlanta-based and Black women-founded venture capital firm, hoping to chip away at programs intended to help African Americans and other minorities overcome entrenched racial inequality.
But Carmenlita Scott, president and CEO of the ATL Airport Chamber, believes that DEI is important for a business’ growth and progress.
“If you’re not involved in diversity, then it’s difficult for you to hire, it’s difficult for your company to move forward,” said Scott.
Other speakers at the event included the Consul General of France in Atlanta, Anne-Laure Desjonquères, and Elaine Grant-Bryan, Honorary Consul for Jamaica in Atlanta. Scott wanted the business leaders to also glean tips on how to do business in foreign countries.
For Atlanta entrepreneurs who are wanting to expand and do business abroad, Princess Ogunlana said the world is welcoming, but she added that Americans need to go into different cultures and countries with an open, respectful mind:
“Have mutual respect, and then, of course, once you go with that, you see that the door is open for you.”
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