Ann Silver: When it comes to equality, businesses must do better (Voices)

RENO, Nev. — The Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce is pleased to begin its recurring column in the NNBW this month with comments about those who have and might seek to destroy rather than build back our economy.

Recent acts of destruction and vandalism have no place in a community that is broken by illness and ills incurred throughout history. Our organization is bullish on new businesses, ethnic restaurants, different languages, faces of many colors, and innovative thinking.

Therefore, while the conversation about race is hard, it must occur, whether in our living rooms, board rooms, schools, places of worship, offices and among our civic leaders. The insidious presence of racism, fueled by ignorance and peer persuasion, has always lurked beneath the surface, but its ugly manifestations are present at a time when our shared pandemic crisis should be uniting us.

We tell ourselves that history has taught us what we should know about racial equality and justice, but history continues to repeat itself over and over again, meeting the very definition of insanity.

Companies issue personnel policies that communicate rules but avoid discussions of racism, antisemitism, homophobia or bias against those we assume are different but with whom we share the majority of our working hours.

We continue to tolerate occupational segregation, financial inequities, housing disparities, inadequate health services and modest voter participation, all of which erode our ability to strengthen our citizenry and support economic opportunities for all. We can do better. We must do better.

In order to make dramatic improvements in celebration of racial diversity, the decisions regarding public policies and laws must include a wide array of leaders from communities of color, corporate, academic, cultural and philanthropic sectors and foster collaboration with city, county and state government officials.

To recover from this pandemic, fully and fairly, those we elect must adopt equity principles that guide every action, that truly tackle bias, and address a systemic problem that has proven even more deadly and long-lasting than COVID-19.

Our future must be grounded in justice for all, inclusive engagement with people of all colors and backgrounds and a commitment to behave differently toward each other.

Let's engage in the difficult but necessary conversations and realize our full potential as a nation, as Nevada and as members of a community that has so much healing to do for so many reasons.

“Commerce Matters” is a monthly Voices column in the NNBW authored by Ann Silver, CEO of the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce. Reach her for comment at


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