Cheryl Doekler apologizes if she “smells like salami”.
But hey, it’s hard to find employees nowadays.
Doelker owns nine Jimmy John locations – five in Livonia – and chairs the Board of Directors of the Livonia Chamber of Commerce. She said she spends most afternoons these days helping her employees beat the lunch rush.
She says she’s big on diversity and inclusivity, something she drives personally and professionally. You can see the welcoming spirit at play. Most of the people who walked out of her 13453 Middlebelt Road store on the afternoon of September 13 left with a sandwich in hand that had an actual smile on their face.
“It is important to me as a business owner that everyone feels welcome, not only in my organization but also in my clients,” she said, adding that she was not speaking on behalf of Jimmy Jones as a whole. “The level of respect and harmony that we are trying to provide is something that is important to me.”
Doelker called on the chamber to help its members show clients that they are inclusive companies, and now that’s a reality. Business owners who attend the Diversity, Equity and Experience Inclusion event in Western Wayne on September 22, will receive a window sticker that says “Hello everyone” for their business. On November 3, attendees will also receive a roundtable for inclusion.
“We welcome everyone.” It’s a simple enough concept, but if nothing else, it makes people think about being more inclusive and more aware of others,” said Dan West, president and CEO of the Livonia Chamber of Commerce.
West said his organization, which has 960 members, has been promoting inclusion since 2016. He said chamber members feel it is important to focus on inclusion given Livonia’s reputation as a former sunset city. This reputation was recently revisited when a black woman alleged that she was discriminated against by a city bank when she brought in casino winnings. The bank denied any wrongdoing.
“Livonia has a history; society has a history that is not necessarily the most comprehensive,” West said. “Our business community does not want to be seen as inclusive.”
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West said the initiative had nothing to do with the nondiscrimination law that Mayor Maureen Miller Brosnan proposed more than a year ago. This ordinance will need to be approved by the Livonia City Council. But this non-partisan council did not formally discuss the proposal, but the majority of its members expressed their concerns about the decree as proposed.
The chamber is also nonpartisan, and while it has endorsed the concept of nondiscrimination law, it does not endorse specific policies, according to West. He said a welcome is good for business.
“The city council makes the rules,” West said. “We encourage best practices.” “Our focus is on encouraging our business community to use best practices so that their businesses are at their best.”
Doelker said she is looking forward to her label business.
“This place is full of banners, isn’t it? I realize the power of banners,” she said. “It’s part of our branding. You can put all of this stuff on paper, but customers don’t see it unless you put a sign up. I hope it conveys what we already have in our brochures.”
Contact reporter Shelby Tankersley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 248-305-0448. Follow her on Twitter Tweet embed.