President’s message: Embracing differences

Lyn Brown

Equity, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) has moved into the mainstream in recent times, as localized social issues and tragedies of disparity trigger widespread global movements. What makes this moment unique, to me, is how the shared desire for positive change is pulling people of different generations, regions, faiths and ethnicity together in search of common humanity.

While each dimension of EDI differs, the sweet spot is a sense of belonging that engages people’s full potential, where innovation thrives and views, beliefs, and values are integrated and honoured.

It is tempting to conclude that governments, business leaders and international agencies need to mandate that careful balance of individual rights and public good. Yet each of us, and the professional societies we are a part of, also have influence and a role to play.

We can be more inclusive in our own circles by taking deliberate, practical steps. Here are just five suggestions from www.catalyst.org for how we can be more inclusive.

  1. When you tap your “go-to” mentors for advice on a project, pause and ask yourself who did you miss/not ask? Why?
  2. Get behind the numbers – explore your organization’s climate through listening circles about how programs and policies really affect colleagues/employees’ feelings about their daily work lives.
  3. Over several meetings, keep track of whose ideas are acknowledged and built on vs. ignored or appropriated. Is there a pattern based on gender, race and/or ethnicity?
  4. Acknowledge people with a culturally appropriate greeting. Don’t know what it is? Ask to learn.
  5. Challenge your own assumptions – develop a Zen state of perpetual curiosity.

It can be nerve-wracking to step outside our comfort zones and echo chambers. Will we say or do something that creates disharmony? Possibly. Yet, if we do nothing to reveal unconscious biases deeply hidden in the norms of every day, positive changes are certainly slowed if not stalled completely.

So, as CPRS members, let’s commit to creating our own small EDI ripples. Let’s take one small step each day to open ourselves, and our organizations to the rightness of equity, diversity and inclusivity. I have no doubt we’ll be enriched by what we can learn from those around us.

Anticipate, initiate, be bold! Lyn

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