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Chamber luncheon focuses on inclusive workplace culture

Four local panelists discuss how organizations can be more welcoming
The Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Mike Chouinard

The Immigrant Welcome Centre’s Welcoming Communities Coalition and the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce have partnered to present a panel discussion and luncheon on Developing an Inclusive Culture in the Workplace.

The July 27 event is for anyone who has ever wondered: how can we make our organizations more inclusive and welcoming? How can we attract and retain people of diverse abilities and backgrounds? Four local panelists will share their lived experiences and expertise around how we can improve our places of work to be more welcoming to all.

Ramesh Lad, the founder of Step by Step Accessibility Consulting, immigrated to Canada from the UK 21 years ago with a background in supporting youth at risk. As a person born with diverse abilities, Lad brings with him a lifetime of personal lived experiences in creating solutions to dealing with environmental barriers within education, employment, leisure, housing, travel, and recreation services.

Diane Naugler, the director of Future Students & Community Engagement at North Island College is a post-secondary leader and educator who decided never to hide their identity from employers, colleagues, students, or community members. The questions, discomfort and opportunities this decision set in motion has shaped them into a consistent advocate for inclusivity, equity, and change.

Ramon Ramirez, a mortgage broker and business consultant, moved to Canada 20 years ago from Paraguay and experienced first-hand the challenges of adapting to different customs and business practices. He is now a proud Canadian who volunteers on many boards and believes that diversity fosters innovation and a culture of understanding and harmony.

Phil Edgett is a local realtor who will talk about overcoming challenges as a lifelong entrepreneur with diverse abilities (he started his first business enterprise at age 12!). He has extensive experience working with employers and his approach to new opportunities is one of positivity and innovation.

The event will be moderated by chamber CEO Dianne Hawkins. Coalition co-ordinator Julie Keumbehdjian will also present some of the insights, challenges, and experiences around equity and inclusion shared by local organizations at the coalition’s annual collaboratory earlier in the year.

The event is set from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Crown Isle Resort (399 Clubhouse Drive, Courtenay). The cost is $50/ticket.

Tickets are available online at and include lunch, a panel discussion, and a question and answer period.

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