Virtual Event Featured Panel Speaking about Racial Equity in Business
Not even a pandemic could stop the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce from celebrating 2020 – a year that many will remember for social distancing, facemasks, racial unrest and a struggling economy, but the Chamber and its 3,000 members see as an opportunity to rebuild an economy that creates access to prosperity for all Coloradans. That was the tone of the Chamber’s 2020 Annual Meeting on Thursday, Sept. 3, the first virtual annual meeting in 136 years of holding the signature event.
At the event, which attracted 750 registrants, the Chamber released its official positions for eight November ballot issues, held a panel discussion on the business community’s role in increasing racial equity, and honored Craig Hospital President and CEO Dr. Jandel Allen-Davis with the 2020 Del Hock Lifetime Achievement Award. Outgoing Board Chair David Eves also passed the gavel to 2020-2021 Board Chair Trey Rogers, shareholder with Recht Kornfeld.
Chamber President and CEO Kelly Brough told attendees that despite the challenges we face right now, we have reason for optimism.
“A big part of our success is because we have never been an us-versus-them organization. We recognize that what is good for an employer is often good for the employee and vice versa. What helps our economy must also help our community,” Brough said. “The private sector can’t be successful if the nonprofit and public sectors aren’t successful, too. Our success depends on the ‘ands,’ not the ‘ors’ … It’s what makes us more optimistic about the future. It builds a stronger more sustainable and shared economy.”
View the Chamber’s Annual Video.
Chamber Announces Positions on Eight Ballot Issues
The November 2020 ballot is packed with issues that could affect businesses and workers. The Chamber announced official positions on eight important ballot issues.
- Support Amendment B: Repeal Property Tax Assessment Rates
- Support Proposition EE: Increase Taxes on Nicotine Products
- Oppose Proposition 113: Adopt Agreement to Elect U.S. Presidents by National Popular Vote
- Oppose Proposition 114: Restoration of Gray Wolves
- Oppose Proposition 116: State Income Tax Rate Reduction
- Oppose Proposition 118: Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program
- Oppose Denver Referendum to Allow Use of Tax Dollars to Build Municipal Broadband
Read the Chamber’s Ballot Guide.
Business Leaders Discuss Role of Business Community in Increasing Racial Equity
A company’s culture must be built on trust and courage for employers and employees to address issues of racial inequity in the workplace, three business leaders told Chamber Annual Meeting attendees during a panel at the event. The Chamber brought together Makisha Boothe, founder of Sistahbiz Global Network, Steve Rendle, chairman, president and CEO of VF Corporation, and Bijal Shah, chief technology and payments officer for Guild Education, to discuss racial equity in the workplace and our community.
All three panelists talked about how uncomfortable and difficult it can be to address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, but the work is necessary if we want to see change.
Boothe encouraged people to avoid creating safe spaces, because those spaces often feel safe only for those at the top. “Create courageous spaces instead of safe spaces,” she said. “It’s not comfortable. It’s not safe. It’s courageous.”
Guild Education has acknowledged that they have plenty of work to do to increase diversity among its staff, and this work must start with leaders’ acknowledgement that there is a problem. “If we’re not having these discussions and working through the messy middle, we’re never going to achieve the right outcome,” Shah said.
At VF Corporation, Rendle said the company is focusing on creating an inclusive environment first. “If we can create an inclusive environment where everyone can belong, we can achieve diversity,” Rendle said.
Chamber Outlines Work of Prosper CO
Brough also detailed the efforts of Prosper CO, an initiative launched in 2019 and led by the Chamber, the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation and the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation. Prosper CO is a pledge to every Coloradan, especially women and people of color who continue to face barriers, that we will take action to bring barriers down to create an economy that provides access to opportunities for all Coloradans.
“We know that the fastest way to recover from this pandemic is to create an economy that works for all Coloradans,” Brough said. “We’ll come out of this even stronger than we were before, but it’s going to take all of us.”
Prosper CO is focused on three areas:
- Jobs: Move more Coloradans into jobs that pay well and have good benefits and continually reduce racial and gender disparities in those jobs.
- Entrepreneurship: Start and grow more small businesses owned by women and people of color.
- Homeownership: Provide stability and the opportunity to begin to build wealth through homeownership.
The Prosper CO Leadership Committee and Steering Committee will be working in the coming year to encourage strategies, such as changing hiring practices, providing mentorship and coaching to entrepreneurs and encouraging affordable workforce housing be built throughout the region.
Learn more about Prosper CO.
David Eves ‘Hands’ Gavel to Incoming Board Chair Trey Rogers
Unlike previous Annual Meetings, outgoing Board Chair David Eves had to virtually pass the gavel to 2020-2021 Board Chair Trey Rogers, shareholder at Recht Kornfeld. Eves led the Chamber and the business community through a time of uncertainty, and Rogers said his focus will be on supporting members, making sound financial decisions for the future of the Chamber, and addressing the inequities in our economy.
“With the challenges – and opportunity – we face right now, we have the potential to improve Colorado for years to come, to create an economy that doesn’t leave anyone out,” Rogers said at the meeting. “We’re on our way to rebuilding better than ever but we have to do a little more work to get through this.”
View a video about Rogers.
Craig Hospital President and CEO Receives Lifetime Achievement Award
Jandel Allen-Davis, Craig Hospital president and CEO, has established herself in the Denver community as a compassionate, strong leader with a vision to create healthy, equitable communities, according to her friends and colleagues. That’s why the Chamber recognized Allen-Davis with the 2020 Del Hock Lifetime Achievement Award.
“None of us does this work alone, and hopefully, none of us does this with the intention of being viewed as the person who got it done. We get done what we get done through and alongside others, and that’s certainly the nature of how we work here in Colorado and certainly through the Chamber,” Allen-Davis said in her acceptance remarks. “It’s funny winning a lifetime achievement award, because I sort of feel like I’m not even close to done, because as we all know, there’s lots of work left to be done.”
The award is named after Del Hock, former CEO of Public Service Company of Colorado (now Xcel Energy) and Chamber Board Chair from 1989 to 1990.
View a video about Allen-Davis.
Chamber Recognizes Chamber Champs
The Chamber also honored its 2019-2020 Chamber Champs Norris W. Davis III, president of South Platte Investments & Planning; Martin Goldstein, principal architect, Venture Architecture; and Denver Metro Small Business Development Center consultants Tammi Arnett, Jay Ballenberger, Nancy Barnett, Dan Braiman, Jason Crawford, Rex Davis, Greg Durocher, Stephanie Fox, Jeff Gilbert, David Hood, Alea Kilgore, Wendy King, Jennifer Kurtz, Cathy Kramer, David Lechner, Jim Olp, Pricilla Orozco-Garcia, Steve Parry, Alexandria Robinson-Serna, Adriane Sanford, Bob Smith, Gary Tickle and Louise Walsh.
Read the Chamber’s 2020 Annual Report to see complete award listings.
Annual Meeting Presenting Sponsors were Boettcher Foundation, FirstBank, HealthONE, U.S. Bank, VF Corporation, Wells Fargo and Xcel Energy. Platinum Sponsor was Plante Moran. Gold Sponsors were Charles Schwab, ColoradoBiz Magazine, Delta Dental of Colorado, Polsinelli, Saunders Construction, SCL Health and UnitedHealthcare. Silver Sponsors were Alpine Bank, American Petroleum Institute Colorado, Bank of America, Brookfield Residential, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Comcast, DaVita, IMA Financial Group, JPMorgan Chase, Land Title Guarantee Company and Norwich University.