Submitted by Steven Lorenzo Baileys, Community Development Coordinator
Are diversity and inclusion more than just a good idea? That question and many others were explored by participants at a recent diversity seminar organized by the South Island Educational Committee (SIEC) and the Community Partnership Network (CPN). The daylong session was facilitated by Alden Habacon, a diversity specialist who has worked to promote diversity and inclusion for CBC Television and the University of British Columbia and is now a consultant. Through engaging visuals, humour, and interactive exercises, more than 90 seminar participants learned about the intercultural demands of our rapidly diversifying workplaces and communities.
Alden reminded the audience that merely exposing ourselves to diversity does not, on its own, produce diversity understanding or learning. But rather, as Alden shared: “Dynamic human interactions across cultural differences require intent and design.” With that in mind, Alden challenged participants to better understand their own implicit biases, and the cultural biases and systems biases found in our workplaces or communities. To create impactful change, learners need to practice the “Six C’s”:
- Commitment to diversity at the individual and organizational levels
- Courage to speak up and challenge the status quo
- Cognizance of our bias and blind spots at both personal and organizational levels
- Curiosity and desire to be open to differences and ambiguity
- Cross-cultural fluency and ability to communicate and adapt to cross-cultural interactions
- Collaboration with and empower others who are diverse from us
To conclude the afternoon, Alden encouraged participants to identify basic key steps they can undertake to be more welcoming to newcomers. This might include: take time to learn how to correctly pronounce name of newcomer volunteers, invite newcomer staff to give presentations at staff meetings about their culture, or include a diverse range of staff to be involved with organization discussions and decisions. These actions can be partial building blocks to ensure the uniqueness of diverse newcomers are valued and appreciated. They can help foster a stronger sense of belonging and are ways to demonstrate that diversity and inclusion are more than just a good idea.
At the end of the session, one participant shared:
“I felt that many of the tools shared at the seminar such as the Organizational Diversity Inclusion Strategy could be applied to any situation at work involving conflict or a difference in opinion. Alden’s presentation was so engaging. I was an active listener all day long because he had me really interested in the topic.”
Thank you Alden for inspiring us to create welcoming and inclusive organizations!
The CPN plans on bringing Alden back to Victoria in the spring of 2018. Stay tuned for more details once the date and location is confirmed.
To learn more about Alden Habacon and his work: http://www.aldenhabacon.com/
To view photos from the seminar: https://www.flickr.com/photos/66839147@N02/albums