Integrity is the coin of our realm. That’s not just a saying we have on a second-floor wall in our office to take up space – it’s the way of doing business here at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. As we walk by, we are reminded more than ever of the role integrity plays in how we advocate for Ohio’s business community and represent our members in state government.
For those of us who have worked for decades to be responsible advocates for Ohio’s business community, recent events in our state have been frustrating, to say the least. The image of politics is at its worst right now. Divisiveness abounds, and policymaking is perceived to be made by those who can spend the most, and in today’s government, bad actors – and bad actions – have resulted from a process that is too often driven by self-interest, lacks transparency and is overshadowed by negativity.
Too often, the strong voice of Ohio’s business leaders is overpowered by special interests that can be part of today’s political processes. Despite that burden, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, for more than 127 years, has relied on a strong ethical foundation in all we do. Indeed, integrity has long been the “currency” we rely on to champion for free enterprise in Ohio.
As a steady voice and advocate for free enterprise, we have incorporated processes and practices in our government relations program that may seem cumbersome or may move more slowly than some would like. But we know that earning respect means not taking the easy route – it takes deliberate consideration of the issues, hearing from multiple voices and honest brokering of information. It takes transparency, accountability and action – all based on a robust set of values that will not be compromised.
It is the obligation of Ohio’s business leaders to rise above the fray and, as a trusted partner and advocate for making Ohio a strong place for job creation and economic growth, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce is ready to amplify that conversation. We are refocusing on what integrity in government means for Ohio’s businesses and our own members.
It is essential to engage our stakeholders in an honest dialogue about why membership in the Chamber is an investment to promote integrity in advocacy. Our members deserve it – and being a driver for change in Ohio’s political climate demands it.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be shining a light on what makes our members and our organization stand out – leaning into the Chamber’s history and its role in sharing our members’ insights on critical economic, business, regulatory and legislative issues with elected leaders and policy makers for more than a century. We seek to rise above this skepticism and distrust to drive a new narrative focused on integrity, because we know that ethical actions, combined with sound decision-making based on facts and data, still matters in government.
While we hold ourselves to high standards, we know that making a commitment like this also means looking inward at our own practices and decision-making. We are prepared to do so. We take the responsibility to do what is right very seriously – and we recognize that our own checks and balances keep us on the path of integrity.
Being All for Ohio cannot just be what we say – the Chamber and its members must align our words with our actions. It is our pledge to do so – as we always have – and to be a model of integrity for others. Watch what we do in the next few months – and join the conversation. A “seat at the table of integrity” comes with high expectations – but the return on that investment is worth it.
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