BATON ROUGE, La. (May 7, 2019) — The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) today announced recipients of its Diversity Star Award at its annual Diversity in Business luncheon presented by ExxonMobil. Lighthouse Louisiana received the award for the small business category, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana received the award for the large business category.

BRAC created the Diversity Star Award with a goal of highlighting exceptional business practices taking place in the Capital Region that leverage the value of diversity in organizations. The award seeks to honor and recognize regional businesses that have championed diversity and inclusion at their businesses or in the community.

“Reading through the applications for this award is inspiring,” said Cheri Ausberry, chair of BRAC’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and director of community development for Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. “Our region’s corporate citizens are implementing innovative and intentional strategies to champion diversity and inclusion, and we could not be more thrilled to recognize both Lighthouse Louisiana and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana for the work they are doing in their organizations. The Capital Region is stronger because of forward-thinking businesses like these.”

Lighthouse Louisiana was selected for its dedication to empowering people with disabilities through services, employment, and advocacy. The organization has been intentional in hiring a diverse workforce, not just in terms of people with disabilities, but also in terms of gender, race, culture, and nationality.

“Inclusion is at the core of every business decision we make. We hire people with disabilities at all levels of our organization, advocate with community employers about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities, and are a community resource for workplace accessibility and training,” said Renee Vidrine, president and CEO of Lighthouse Louisiana. “We are honored to be recognized as an employer dedicated to showcasing the abilities and potential of all people. If you are an employer wanting to create an inclusive and accessible workplace or a job seeker with a disability, Lighthouse Louisiana is here for you.”

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana was selected for demonstrated excellence in its diversity and inclusion practices, highlighted by the implementation of an organization-wide diversity and inclusion initiative. Within the initiative, D&I training is required of all its employees, including senior leaders and board members. The initiative has also proven effective in building a framework for partnering with businesses owned by women, veterans, and minorities.

“Our organization has steadily increased its commitment to diversity and inclusion over the past several years,” said Rod Teamer, director of diversity programs and business development for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana. “Most recently, the leadership and support of our President and CEO Dr. Steve Udvarhelyi has allowed us to implement enhanced D&I programming that will help our company be more competitive and a model for others for years to come.”

About the Baton Rouge Area Chamber

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) leads economic development in the nine-parish Baton Rouge Area, working to grow jobs and wealth and to improve the business climate and competitiveness in the region. Today, BRAC investors include more than 1,500 small businesses, midsize firms, large industry and entrepreneurial startups, as well as individuals and organizations that support business and economic development. In this capacity, BRAC serves as the voice of the business community, providing knowledge, access, services and advocacy. More information is available at brac.org.

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