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Dash of Life Blog: Bringing Your Own Seat to the Table: Overcoming Bias and Advocating for Inclusion

In the realm of leadership and decision-making, the metaphorical “table” often represents spaces where critical discussions and decisions are made. However, access to this table isn’t always equal for everyone. The late Shirley Chisholm, a trailblazing figure in American politics, once famously said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” This sentiment reflects the reality faced by many women and people of color who find themselves overlooked, undervalued and ignored in professional settings. The issue of representation and inclusion at the table is complex. Often, there might be a seat available, but the person occupying it is dismissed or their contributions are diminished due to conscious or unconscious biases. Social stereotypes and ingrained perceptions can lead to the devaluation of certain individuals based on gender, race, or other characteristics. I recall a personal experience during my time at Fannie Mae that exemplifies this

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Dash of Life Blog: From the Pinnacle to the Unknown: Navigating Life After Leading DC’s Business Community

As many of you know, I served as President/CEO of the DC Chamber of Commerce for 12-plus years after an amazing three-decade corporate career at IBM and Fannie Mae. The Chamber position was probably the most rewarding and my team was successful, with major accomplishments, including: • Securing numerous legislative wins for the business community• Helping members gain their next big business agreement• Hosting the Chamber’s Annual Awards extravaganza where businesspeople and politicians alike came ‘to see and be seen’ By any yardstick, the Chamber had a terrific run and helped to make the District of Columbia a much better place to live, work, play and of course – do business. With all the hard work and long hours (sometimes 7 days a week) came invitations to galas, upscale parties, Diplomatic corps events and rubbing shoulders with top DC and Federal officials including the President of the United States. I

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Now is the Time to Step up and Support Small Businesses

Consider this: According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), only 40 percent of small businesses are profitable, and that is during “normal” economic times. During this unprecedented pandemic, thousands of people have lost their lives, and together we mourn for the families impacted so tragically. Thousands more have lost their jobs and are scraping to make ends meet. Many of these are small business owners and employees who do not have the resources to lose months of business and remain open. We must support them now more than ever. As the former president and CEO of the DC Chamber for 13 years, our member base consisted of 60 percent small businesses, and their passion for community and economics was inspiring and drove the economic renaissance DC experienced in the early 2000s. These business owners took pride not only in their business and serving customers, but also quality of life including

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Barbara Lang: Ethics deserve a starring role in business dealings

Ethics deserve a starring role in business dealings They created cultures of fear, deception and arrogance, and they put their own personal interests in front of all others, including their own families. They didn’t care whose lives they destroyed, using their power to conquer and destroy anyone blocking their path to money and gratification. Shockingly, they manipulated those around them — people with whom they built trust — to foster networks of secrecy and allegiance beyond anything we have seen in the history of American business. Ironically, they crucified themselves through historic cheating, lying and a breakdown of ethics never seen before. Many are household names, and we should all cringe when we hear them, even as they are reduced to insignificance and confined to moldy jail cells. Ken Lay, CEO and chairman of Enron, was the mastermind of a historic accounting scandal at the energy company, resulting in its

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Barbara Lang: D.C. must flex its local economic muscle

Let’s face it. On the proverbial plane of economic development, the District of Columbia is in the middle seat fighting for elbow room with Maryland on one side and Virginia on the other. We have a history of challenging business practices that cannot compete with the tax structures and available spaces offered to the north and south of our nation’s capital. While Northern Virginia is known for its robust and global technology corridor, Montgomery County is known for its world-class biotechnology sector. Sure, our neighbors cannot compete with our pristine monuments, museums and our rich hospitality industry, but we need to be known for more than a federal enclave, even if our neighborhoods and quality of life do continue to improve. This growth needs to be part of our economic strategy that is sustainable for generations. I give credit to former Mayor and Ward 8 Councilman Marion Barry, whom I

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Letter to DC Council from Barbara Lang

Dear Mr. Chairman: Re: Sports Betting & the DC Lottery Contract As you know, I have a strong history advocating for small businesses in this city. As Vice President & Chief Procurement Officer at Fannie Mae for 10 years and more than 12 years as President & CEO of the DC Chamber of Commerce, I know first-hand how important these businesses are to the District and the civic and economic impact they have on our city. Since leaving the Chamber in March 2014, I have stayed completely out of the DC political environment and advocating for or against business interests. But I cannot remain silent any longer. I have been extremely disappointed watching the ‘circus like’ atmosphere surrounding this contract put forth by some of your colleagues and from some in the media. This is a mockery of the very businesses that support this community daily, and I felt compelled

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