4 Reasons to Care About DEI

The Plano Chamber of Commerce will host our first ever DEI Summit on Friday, June 24 at the Frito-Lay headquarters. This half-day seminar will explore the theme of “Leading Towards Equity” and will feature sessions from leaders in the DEI space. The workplace of today is more vibrant and varied than ever with individuals from an array of diverse backgrounds filling crucial roles at every level. And we don’t even have location in common anymore now that so many are working from home in various places.

You can read more about this event by clicking HERE, and we’d love you to see you there. In preparation for this event, I’ve explored four reasons to care about diversity, equity, and inclusion below. Be sure to comment your thoughts or questions and join the conversation on June 24.

4 Reasons to Care About Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Diversity is a growing topic inside businesses of all sizes, especially those with a human resources department. But what about the small local businesses that make up the majority of our Chamber membership? In 2021, the Plano Chamber made the decision to expand our Plano Culture and Inclusion Alliance to provide resources to mid-size and small businesses.

Our organization is always searching for new ways to boost inclusiveness in the workforce. We’ve researched four reasons that your small business should also care about diversity, equity, and inclusion. And we even have some conversation starters you can steal.

If you’re looking to promote greater equity, inclusion, and diversity in your own workplace, consider our four key reasons for making these principles a top priority.

Not only does promoting diversity help business leaders achieve a greater sense of empathy towards their employees and clients, but it can also allow organizations to gain a significant advantage over their competitors.

1. Expanding Your Workforce

When employers keep an open mind during the recruitment process, they’re far more likely to attract more qualified employees to their business. Talent spans across all genders, races, and ages, and only employers who make an effort to seek out underrepresented groups will have the opportunity to strengthen their existing workforce. Your current employees are also likely to feed off the innovative ideas that their diverse coworkers offer, which can help boost creativity throughout your organization as a whole.

2. Improving Your Reputation

According to research, about 67 percent of job candidates factor diversity into their career decisions. If you establish yourself as an organization that cares about diversity, equity, and inclusion, job seekers will notice. This positive association that others attach to your company helps improve your business’s reputation as a whole. Likewise, organizations are more likely to retain existing employees if they make a point of promoting diversity. This is because employees tend to identify more strongly with a company if it reflects their personal beliefs.

3. Build Trust Among Customers

Your customers see your employees before they ever see the owner, and employees are often the first people your clients interact with. If your workforce lacks diversity, your clients may be wary of putting their trust in your business, especially if they belong to an underserved population. When your employees represent the widest array of races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations, the widest array of clients will also feel included. By incorporating diversity into your workforce, you’ll also be better able to understand and cater to the needs of your client base.

4. Boost Productivity

Diversity, equity, and inclusion isn’t just about improving the way others perceive your business. These tenants also play a critical role in your company’s output. Studies have shown that diverse groups tend to perform better as a whole than homogeneous groups. This is because members of diverse groups bring a wide variety of talents, skills, opinions, and perspectives to the table. When these abilities are combined, employees have the opportunity to come up with innovative solutions to problems and work through these issues at a faster rate.

Help Your Small Business Grow by Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace

Your small business can benefit in a multitude of ways by embracing diversity, equity and inclusion. From improving your overall reputation to expanding your workforce, you can strengthen nearly every aspect of your business by incorporating these principles into your company’s mission. At the end of the day, you’ll have happier employees and clients when you make inclusion a priority in your workplace.

Member Spotlight: Marketwave

The Plano Chamber membership team is thrilled to present our NEW monthly Member Spotlights! Each month, we will be highlighting different Plano Chamber of Commerce members to continue connecting our members with each other and the Plano community at large.

The Plano Chamber would like to welcome and spotlight one of our Invest members, Marketwave. Heather Wagemann, our Membership Engagement Manager, asked Marketwave Vice President, Michael Young, a few questions about their business, membership, and their role in the community.

1. What would you like readers to know about Marketwave and what you specialize in?

Marketwave is a full-service marketing and brand communications agency that has been in business for nearly 25 years. We are a certified Woman-Owned Business (WBE) and a Conscious Capitalism company. We primarily serve the middle market and large businesses with expertise in Brand Strategy, PR/Strategic Communications, Employee Experience and Lead Generation. Post-pandemic, our clients have a greater need for support in the employee engagement and employer branding areas to focus on retention and culture connections that resonate with the way employees view work and their expectations for feedback, growth, and flexibility in their roles. Our clients who have tapped us for this employee experience work are seeing positive impact on engagement, productivity, and retention, as well as recruitment efforts. Whether it’s social media strategies, PR plans, lead generation or thought leadership campaigns, Marketwave helps companies elevate their brands, boost sales, and attract and keep the best talent. We operate with our brand of Texas tenacity each day and are proud to call Plano home with our new corporate headquarters move in 2020.

2. How has being an active member of the Plano Chamber of Commerce impacted your professional development/career?

Our business success hinges on relationships. 90% of our new business starts with a referral. Having the opportunity to meet new people and learn about their businesses through the chamber opens the door to new client opportunities for us. I network all the time, attending multiple events each week including the Plano Chamber events, and I find that that this Chamber offers an excellent way for me to engage with larger groups of business leaders on a regular and recurring basis. The connections I’ve made through the chamber have led to introductions to other people that may be great referral sources or future business for Marketwave.

3. Tell us about your involvement in the community.

Marketwave is a group of service-minded people who love to volunteer and stay connected in the community. We have several recurring volunteer events we participate in guided by the Communities Foundation of Texas and its Collin County office, as well as more impromptu and individual activities by team members. We have a monthly internal meeting that we call Victory Laps where we celebrate successes in a few different areas both business and personal. One of the key areas we cover in this meeting is volunteer hours. We’ve tracked that effort for several years now, and it continues to climb with our team dedicating more than 300 hours a year to local nonprofits. In our recent annual employee survey, we had overwhelming support for doing more volunteering as a team. It’s a big part of our culture and we recognize the community where we do business as a key stakeholder in who we are as a company.

4. What piece of advice would you give to our newest members?

I guess it’s like so many other things – you get out of it what you put in. I’ve had great conversations with numerous people I’ve met through the Chamber. The Chamber employees have been fantastic and really seem to care about connecting me and helping me grow Marketwave. I know that sometimes it’s easier to just get to work and a chamber event might not seem like something you have time to do, but I can honestly say that each event I’ve attended I’ve found value and met at least one new person. I consider it an investment in my company to be connected to other business and civic leaders through this chamber.

Work With Me: Double Your Productivity

Hello Chamber members and friends. In ‘Work with Me,’ my blog about all things Plano Chamber, policy, business and more, I am here to write about what is happening in the Chamber and things that can help us all work better together.

In this first entry, I am exploring productivity and meeting burn-out. Meetings and events have really ramped up the past few months for me, and if I’m feeling it, I know my colleagues and our members are feeling it more. It got me to thinking about the dreaded MEETING and how they are a necessity and a curse. Our days feel like we go from one meeting another sometimes, so how do we get any work done? Please comment and share your experience if you’d like. I’d love to hear from you.

Double Your Productivity By Asking Yourself These Simple Questions

Meetings get a bad rap for limiting productivity during the workday. While work from home and office hybrid hours have changed how we attend meetings, meetings themselves remain a staple of everyday office life.

Whether meetings are called because of a false sense of urgency or to simply share information, it’s easy to feel frustrated and get “meeting burn-out.” An overabundance of meetings may take time away from client care or work on important projects, contributing to the feeling of meeting overload.

As cited by the Harvard Business Review, there are a few contributing factors to meeting overload, and many of these reasons are intrinsic to our collective behavior and psychology. The ego demands attention, and people may see urgency when, in fact, there is none.

Another reason for too many meetings can be our inability to communicate clearly about issues surrounding the job at hand. The overabundance of communication platforms, from Zoom and Slack to emails, pings, texts, and even phone calls, can actually decrease clarity and create uncertainty around projects. It’s pretty clear to many people that this mode of communication in the office isn’t sustainable.

Meetings can provide a centralized location to get everyone on the team up to speed at once and open the door for questions and discussion without sorting through messages on several different platforms. And while there are advantages to meetings, they may often be unnecessary, or the attendees may not all need to be there.

If you’re suffering from meeting overload and it’s affecting your ability to complete regular client tasks or your share of a project, you may need to trim the fat from your schedule.

Do I Need a Meeting? Essential Questions to Ask

If you’re debating whether you need to attend a meeting, ask yourself two questions:

  • Is there anything to gain by attending that I can’t gather from meeting notes or a recording?
  • Do I have anything valuable to contribute?

If the answer to both is “no,” politely decline and ask for a summation of the meeting notes. You can follow up with the meeting organizer with any questions you might have.

If you’re debating whether to hold a meeting, there are three key questions to ask before sending out that calendar invite:

  • Can I accomplish the same results by sending out an informative email?
  • If I can’t send an email or message, why is this meeting necessary? If you can’t think of an important reason to have a meeting, postpone it until you have one.
  • If I need to hold this meeting, will everyone I’m inviting have something to contribute? If an attendee isn’t bringing information that’s critical to the table, or if they can gain what they need from a recording of the meeting or the meeting notes, then strike them from the invite list.

Make Meetings Small, Short, and Sweet

Steve Jobs had a practical outlook on meetings, making them short and small. Small, as in no more than five attendees, and short, with five minutes allotted per person. The agenda should be purposeful and focus on just one or two critical points.

If the meeting ends before the resolution of these points or before the agenda is completed, follow up with notes about what remains to be resolved, and determine whether a follow-up meeting will be effective.

Takeaway

You can easily cut the glut of meetings from your schedule by following these tips. A critical approach to meetings opens up your schedule and affords you time to focus on your to-do list. As you become more selective in your approach to meetings, you will be rewarded with increasingly balanced and effective workdays and better quality of communication with your teams.

Member Spotlight: Leadership In Action

The Plano Chamber membership team is thrilled to present our NEW monthly Member Spotlights! Each month, we will be highlighting different Plano Chamber of Commerce members to continue connecting our members with each other and the Plano community at large.

The Plano Chamber would like to welcome and spotlight one of our newer members, Leadership In Action. Heather Wagemann, our Membership Engagement Manager, asked Owners, Ian & Karen Gregory, a few questions about their business, membership, and their role in the community.

1. What would you like readers to know about Leadership In Action and what you specialize in?

Leadership In Action is a Leadership training and development Company, as well as a Life Coaching Organization, now located out of Plano, TX.  We grow and develop individuals, teams, and organizations to best optimize the talents, habits, and future potential leadership for organizations to achieve their best outcomes.  We show companies how to push for excellence so they will not just survive the many outside forces that are making it so hard for companies to prosper, but they will thrive in any economy.

2. How has being an active member of the Plano Chamber of Commerce impacted your professional development/career?

We have only recently turned our attention to the Plano Chamber as we were members of another networking group and thought that was the path to pursue.  We were wrong.  The Plano Chamber of Commerce is a must join if you’re thinking of networking.  They not only have the people you want to meet, but they also know the businesses in the city, they have meeting rooms to facilitate your organizations plans, and best of all, they are staffed by knowledgeable, informed and really nice people that brighten your day just talking to them.

3. Tell us about your involvement in the community.

We are a little behind in involvement, but because of Heather, we will be featured in the Chamber publication (Thanks Heather), because of Veronica, we are in talks with one of the local schools to help write a curriculum for Emotional Intelligence and how to handle bullying (Thanks Veronica), and lastly, because of a meet and greet with the Mayor and other local politicians, we are heading a think tank to work with the council and especially City Council member Anthony Ricciardelli to help solve current and future problems associated with running a city that cares enough to put excellence as a goal in everything they do.  Check out the water towers!

4. What piece of advice would you give to our newest members?

Best advice is get involved.  Meet the Staff, led by Kelly who embodies the push for excellence, she has put together a crew that is ready and willing to serve its members at the highest level.  Attend events, they are varied, cover the spectrum and there is something for everybody if you stay informed.  Attend the Friday networking (you will have the pleasure of meeting the indomitable Mike Dressel) and you will meet a spirited, diverse group of networkers that will make you wish you had joined sooner.  It’s the best bang for the buck in Plano!

Member Spotlight: United Rocks

The Plano Chamber membership team is thrilled to present our NEW monthly Member Spotlights! Each month, we will be highlighting different Plano Chamber of Commerce members to continue connecting our members with each other and the Plano community at large.

The Plano Chamber would like to welcome and spotlight one of our newest members, United Rocks. Heather Wagemann, our Membership Engagement Manager, asked Chief Executive Officer, Mariana Steelsmith, a few questions about her organization, membership, and their role in the community.

1. What would you like readers to know about United Rocks and what you specialize in?

United Rocks’ mission is to create an inclusive environment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to promote physical, mental and social skills through participation in rock climbing so they will grow and excel in their lives and to include the sport of rock climbing into the Special Olympics.

2. How has being an active member of the Plano Chamber of Commerce impacted your professional development/career?

To spread awareness about inclusion, inspire kids to learn new abilities, support families to achieve life growth.

3. Tell us about your involvement in the community.

We are creating partnerships with multiple organizations and businesses so all can share the same goals of awareness, inclusion, respect and success for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

4. What is one thing you hope to learn during your first year as a member?

Learn to support our organization through leadership, mentoring, partnerships and create relationships that will last forever so we can grow together.

Spotlight: Legacy of Luxury Real Estate

The Plano Chamber membership team is thrilled to present our NEW monthly Member Spotlights! Each month, we will be highlighting different Plano Chamber of Commerce members to continue connecting our members with each other and the Plano community at large.

The Plano Chamber would like to welcome and spotlight one of our newest members, Legacy of Luxury Real Estate. Heather Wagemann, our Membership Engagement Manager, asked Owner and Real Estate Professional, TJ Foster, a few questions about her business, membership, and her role in the community.

1. What would you like readers to know about Legacy of Luxury Real Estate and what you specialize in?

Legacy of Luxury Real Estate, where Luxury is the Experience, not the Expense is a modern lifestyle real estate brand, under the umbrella of Realty One Group-Forward Living, Owned and operated by realtor TJ Foster, a Real Estate Professional primarily serving the Dallas Fort Worth Metro area. TJ is well skilled and equipped to facilitate both Residential and Commercial sales and leasing opportunities. Her business is built on communication, dedication, and transparency. TJ values the trust her clients place in her and strives daily to exceed expectations. With over twenty years of experience in customer service as a retail business owner and small business consultant, she has developed a reputation as a well-respected and innovative resource. Legacy of Luxury Real Estate is sought after by business owners, first time home buyers, homeowners interested in downsizing or upgrading their prospective homes, families who desire to relocate, and seasoned investors.

Find TJ Foster on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.

2. How has being an active member of the Plano Chamber of Commerce impacted your professional development/career?

In my efforts to get out and connect with Like Minded business owners who desired to not only grow their businesses, but to connect and build relationships that would be impactful. The Chamber was a no brainer!

The first event I attended was facilitated by the Women’s Division and the community, empowerment, and pride displayed by Chamber members and attendees was extremely rewarding. My love for people and passion for growth would not allow me to rest until I became a member of such a great organization.

3. Tell us about your involvement in the community.

I love all things outreach, I believe “Where one may struggle, Together We Can” I have a pure heart for empowerment, education, and uplifting.

I often volunteer where and whenever I’m needed. From offering free small business strategy and setup consulting, mentoring, passing out meals, or even picking trash from the side of the road.

4. What is one thing you hope to learn during your first year as a member?

My first year, I hope to learn the entire mission of the Chamber, which would allow me to grow as a member where my knowledge will assist my peers in growing and becoming a resource for the Plano community.

Member Spotlight: Regions Bank

The Plano Chamber membership team is thrilled to present our NEW monthly Member Spotlights! Each month, we will be highlighting different Plano Chamber of Commerce members to continue connecting our members with each other and the Plano community at large.

The Plano Chamber would like to welcome and spotlight one of our Invest members, Regions Bank. Heather Wagemann, our Membership Engagement Manager, asked VP Relationship Manager of Regions Commercial Bank , Steven DeMundo, a few questions about their business, membership, and their role in the community.

1. What would you like readers to know about Regions Bank and what you specialize in?

Regions Bank has a 100+ year history serving the personal and business banking needs of our clients from families to large businesses and everything in between. We are headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama and have grown our footprint across 15 states; Deepening our roots within the Dallas Metroplex are a top priority, and it starts with our community activism and partnerships. I serve as a Commercial Banker and my responsibility is serving the growing business market in and around Collin County by providing access to capital and operating account needs. I couldn’t do that without the support of local management team, my product specialists, and community partners such as the Plano Chamber of Commerce.

2. How has being an active member of the Plano Chamber of Commerce impacted your professional development/career?

A core reason I joined Regions Bank summer 2021 was for their passion to support and impact their local community and I was excited to partner with the Plano Chamber. My wife and I moved our family here from New York nearly 5 years ago and I quickly became enamored with Collin County and the work being done in our communities. Since joining the Plano Chamber, I’ve been able to meet great individuals and leaders who have a passion for driving local success, and small business owners who lean on one another for mutual growth, which I believe is a key trait of any strong small business ecosystem.

3. Tell us about your involvement in the community.

I proudly serve on the Plano United Business board committee with the Plano Chamber and partnering with the Frisco Chamber as well as the Collin County Black Chamber of Commerce to promote financial literacy programs for their members. We’ve also shared our financial wellness webinars with various local nonprofit organizations of diverse stakeholders to supply their members with relatable, tangible resources and knowledge that we hope spreads throughout DFW and creates a positive impact in homes and businesses across North Texas.

4. What piece of advice would you give to our newest members?

Meet with a Plano Chamber staff member to share your interests and concerns as a business owner and local citizen. Everyone I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with at the Chamber has been more than willing to help new members, they are open to feedback and new ideas, and eager to build community connections.

5. We are thrilled to share that Regions Bank is the Presenting Sponsor for the inaugural Plano United Business program! The Plano United Business Program is a two-year mentorship program for minority-owned small businesses located in Collin County. This program will provide the opportunities for growth through membership, education, mentorship, and relationship building. Can you tell our readers why it was so important to Regions Bank to sponsor this program and what you hope this program accomplishes in its first year?

At Regions, we pride ourselves as a “relationship” bank, with capabilities to support our clients, their families, and their business at every stage & who strives to execute to best of our ability and treat everyone with the same level of respect and care. It’s important that the citizens of the city of Plano and others knows they have a partner in the community that wants to help build success from the inside-out and. This year, we’d love to foster the energy around the Plano United Business program and help build a foundation for success for years to come.

 

Welcome New March 2022 Members!

The Plano Chamber was thrilled to welcome 24 new business members in the month of March. Learn more about each member business and the services they offer by clicking the links below.

Alliance Bank
Breadex
Cowboys Fit*
Dallas Sidekicks
Denims And Diamonds
Elite Med Spa & Infusion Center
First United Bank Mortgage Group*
Ford Center*
Ford’s Garage
Formation*
Graze Craze
Nanzvision
Park Blvd Tax Services
Ryan & Jacobs
Soul Bird Chkn
Southern Dallas Link
Steady House
Sutton Place Apartments
Texas Capital Bank*
The Star District*
Twelve Cowboys Way*
United Rocks
United States Senator Ted Cruz
Unity Insurance Partners*

Are you interested in learning more about the Plano Chamber of Commerce and what your business can gain from joining the Plano Chamber? CLICK HERE for information about member benefits, services, and programs or contact membership@planochamber.org.

Don’t forget to visit the Plano Chamber Business Directory the next time you are looking for products, services, or a fun night out with friends! Remember to support local businesses and Shop Plano First.

Member Spotlight: Atmos Energy

The Plano Chamber membership team is thrilled to present our NEW monthly Member Spotlights! Each month, we will be highlighting different Plano Chamber of Commerce members to continue connecting our members with each other and the Plano community at large.

The Plano Chamber would like to welcome and spotlight one of our Top Investors, Atmos Energy. Heather Wagemann, our Membership Engagement Manager, asked Atmos Energy’s Manager of Public Affairs, Jan Rugg, a few questions about their business, membership, and their role in the community.

1. What would you like readers to know about Atmos Energy and what you specialize in?

Atmos Energy Corporation, an S&P 500 company headquartered in Dallas, is the country’s largest natural gas-only distributor. We safely deliver reliable, affordable, efficient, and abundant natural gas to more than 3 million distribution customers in over 1,400 communities across eight states located primarily in the South. As part of our vision to be the safest provider of natural gas services, we are modernizing our business and infrastructure while continuing to invest in safety, innovation, environmental sustainability, and our communities. Atmos Energy manages proprietary pipeline and storage assets, including one of the largest intrastate natural gas pipeline systems in Texas. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

2. How has being an active member of the Plano Chamber of Commerce impacted your professional development/career?

Membership in the Plano Chamber of Commerce has provided me the opportunity to meet and develop relationships with local leaders (business and governmental) who work daily to make Plano a growing and vibrant city. I utilize these relationships daily, when business works together, we create outcomes that are wins not only for our business but for Plano as a whole.

Additionally, being part of Leadership Plano was instrumental in providing me a strong friend group, professional network, and a knowledge of the City I now call home.

3. Tell us about your involvement in the community.

An integral part of my workday is community involvement. Through Atmos Energy’s Fueling Safe and Thriving Communities initiatives we fund sponsorships to organizations that provide programing in areas such as, childhood literacy, childhood nutrition as it supports learning and the arts as an important part of a child’s education. Whether funding sponsorships to organizations such as PISD EF, North Texas Food Bank or the Assistance Center of Collin Co, Atmos Energy strongly invests in the Plano community.

4. What piece of advice would you give to our newest members?

Come to events!

Be willing to meet someone new!

Recognize that meeting a new member is important to those of us who have been part of the Chamber for some time.

When I was new to this role someone told me “If you work the Chamber the Chamber will work for you”. I didn’t understand it then, but I do now!

5. Last but certainly not least, can you educate our members in April being recognized as “National Safe Digging Month”. What do our members need to know about safe digging and what is Atmos Energy doing to recognize this month?

April is National Safe Digging Month. Atmos Energy reminds residents to call 811 at least three days before you want to dig.

811 is the national call-before-you-dig phone number, and it is a free and easy service that is required by law. Anyone who plans to dig should call 811 or go to their state 811 center’s website before digging to request that the approximate location of buried utilities be marked with paint or flags so that you do not unintentionally strike an underground utility line.

When calling 811, be prepared to confirm the address of your digging project, including the county and nearest cross street, as well as the type of project you are completing and the exact area on the property where you plan to dig. Whether you call 811 or make your request online, you will need the same info.

Member Spotlight: Phoenix OTS

The Plano Chamber membership team is thrilled to present our NEW monthly Member Spotlights! Each month, we will be highlighting different Plano Chamber of Commerce members to continue connecting our members with each other and the Plano community at large.

The Plano Chamber would like to welcome and spotlight a newer member, Phoenix OTS. Heather Wagemann, our Membership Engagement Manager, asked Senior Account Executive, Chris Nieto, a few questions about his business, membership, and role in the community.

1. What would you like readers to know about Phoenix OTS and what you specialize in?

Our tagline is “Simplifying Technology” because our goal is to be your single-source, trustworthy provider when you need to expand, downsize, move, or modify your work environment without the worry of calling several vendors to address those individual tasks. We specialize in: Data/Network Cabling, Speech Privacy/Sound Masking, Acoustic Paneling and Design, Broadband and VoIP, Audio/Visual Services and Security Controls/Cameras.

2. Why did you choose to join the Plano Chamber of Commerce?

I appreciated the “good vibes” when I was a guest at various events the Chamber hosted. Whether they were intended for growing individually or my business, they were informative and rewarding. The sense of family/unity with each member I met at the events sincerely trying to partner or assist to help grow each other’s businesses is always what you are looking for. “The Chamber works”.

3. Tell us about your involvement in the community.

I am a big advocate for fostering and adopting dogs. All animals are amazing souls, but I have a soft spot for dogs. I also am a huge advocate for Type 1 Diabetes having immediate family members with this terrible disease, so it is near and dear to my heart.  Many people are not aware of the differences between Type 1 and 2 so I also try to offer knowledge and support to help anyway I can.

4. What part of your work environment is your favorite?

Just try to connect with as many like-minded individuals as possible and create lifelong relationships. Whether it be with clients, peers or future mentors; life is all too short, so I try to live every day to the fullest and serve others.