River City Six – Bianca Harley
Meet Bianca Harley, director of community diversity and inclusion at the Greater Omaha Chamber.
Tell us a little about your business.
CODE is the Greater Omaha Chamber’s Commitment to Opportunity, Diversity, and Equity. CODE was born as a sustainable initiative to address equal access to opportunity in Greater Omaha. Research conducted in 2015 showed African American young professionals were 5–6 times less likely than their Caucasian peers to recommend Greater Omaha as a place to live, work, and play, among other issues. Two years of focus groups, additional research, and collaboration among organizations, nonprofits and corporations further revealed research data were not only perceptual but also behavioral. Something had to be done because “nothing” is never an option.
How did you get started in the business?
When the Chamber conducted the African American YP survey, I participated. Having spent most of my life in Greater Omaha, the results didn’t necessarily come as a surprise. I spent six years as the Director of Career Development for the College of Business at UNO before I began my work at the Chamber. In that role I had the unique opportunity to visit a variety of workplaces where I often identified immediately a lack of diversity and felt a strong urge to do something about it.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally?
Within the field of diversity, equity, and inclusion, there is so much work to be done. Sometimes, I feel like we are barely scratching the surface. To overcome this challenge, I celebrate every milestone, every win, no matter how small. It all adds up. Will we ever resolve systemic oppression and racism? Address gender equality? Have inclusion of our LGBTQIA2S+ community? Embrace people with different abilities, age, socioeconomic status, and more? Yes, we will.
Tell us a little about your family.
I am the daughter of two equally brilliant, passionate, and loving people—the second oldest of their seven children! We are an incredibly close, long distance family. I am also blessed to be a mother to three children who I would consider my greatest contribution to this world: Sonny “Q,” Stevie, and Soleil. (You’ll want to remember those names- they’re going to do big things!). I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the host of friends who have become family as well. I’m eternally grateful for everyone in my life.
What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?
You’ll find me in a gym watching my favorite players. I’m an avid little league/high school sports follower and the number one fan of a few amazing kids!
Who inspires you?
My daughter, Soleil, is a constant source of inspiration. At just six months old, she was diagnosed partially blind in her right eye. As a mother, my mind immediately began thinking of how this would impact her quality of life, but she hasn’t missed a single beat. Watching her learn and grow has been a privilege.
If you could choose only one descriptive word to be remembered as, what would it be?
Meraki – (v.) to do something with soul, creativity, or love; to put something of yourself in your work. My goal is simply to live a life that outlives me.
What is your favorite book or the last good book you read?
The Choice by Edith Eva Eger, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford, and Heart Talk by Cleo Wade.
What is your favorite movie?
A tie between Love and Basketball and The Great Gatsby (2013 version).
What is your favorite TV show?