Tag Archives: innovation

Cities of Migration

3 Mar

Cities of Migration – the 3rd annual – is put on by Ratna Omidvar and Diversity Global Exchange and is happening in Toronto until Friday March 4. The tag line is “Diversity Drives Prosperity” so of course I was intrigued, and looking forward to participating in and listening to some broader conversations about inclusion. I wasn’t disappointed.

Here are a few notable highlights:

Toronto Mayor John Tory did the Welcoming Address and underlined his commitment to not just diversity, but inclusion in our city. “Our prosperity depends on getting the most out of diversity’” he said. And then continued with “Prosperity advances our ability to achieve social justice.”
My heart warmed to hear the words ‘social justice’ from a politician.

At the end of the day, the Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration,  Citizenship, and Refugees was on stage in conversation with Ratna Omidvar. When asked about taking in refugees while we have Canadians who are struggling with poverty and substandard housing etc., he said “I believe we can walk and chew gum at the same time.” I look forward to seeing an emphasis on both welcoming immigrants and remembering that there are many people on our land (Indigenous, for one large important group) that also need attention.

Wendy Cukier (VP Research & Innovation, Ryerson University) reminded us that “deep-rooted racism, despite our diversity, is a problem that continues to plague us” – in Toronto and in Canada. Finally, someone said it out loud!

Yuen Pau Woo (President, HQ Vancouver) talked about the growing Asian population in Vancouver and asked, “What are we mainstreaming into when the majority mainstream is not the old mainstream?” He also gave us a history lesson – the Canadian Railway wasn’t built to unite the country (or at least that wasn’t the main purpose) – it was built to have access to Asia and the Asian market! Ah hah!

Cameron Bailey (Artistic Director, TIFF) talked about the many gatekeepers in the film industry and therefore the many potential barriers to inclusion. He also made it clear that he’s not the diversity at TIFF; that his position doesn’t guarantee diversity. His mandate is to make sure structures are in place to continue that legacy and commitment after he is no longer there. Hooray! So important.

Shaama Saggar-Malik (Founder and ED of DiPA, London) talked about diversity and inclusion in public appointments: “I don’t want to be at the table having the same conversation, I want to be at the table changing the conversation. What is the conversation we are asking people to be part of?” That is the point of diversity – to broaden the conversation.

There were two questions that were asked from the “floor” that were not really addressed which was frustrating because they were excellent ones:

– One regarding the experience of push back from Canadian Aboriginal/First Nations communities regarding immigrant inclusion when they themselves have been and continue to be excluded here in Canada. So much to think about there.

– And another about who is not part of these conversations about inclusion and diversity; whose voices and perspectives are missing? True. Usually at these events it’s the “usual suspects”.

Overall, it was an inspiring, through-provoking day with a mixture of speakers from Germany, the UK, the USA and Canada, all committed to supporting immigrants  and immigration, and furthering the conversation – and the implementation – of diversity driving prosperity through inclusion.

Thank you Ratna Omidvar and the Global Diversity Exchange!

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Copyright 2016 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker, Author and Facilitator on issues of Diversity & Inclusion
Interested in how the power of inclusion can transform your organization? Send me an email!

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A Diversity Allegory

7 May

This week I heard a story that sparked my D&I interest.

It’s about insects, but bear with me, it’s a great allegory for D&I!

If you put bees and flies into a glass jar and put the bottom of the open jar against the window (so the open end is away from the window) on a sunny day, what do you think happens?

Apparently (and I haven’t tested this, so I’m going on faith that the story teller did their research), the bees move towards the light. That’s what their DNA tells them is the right thing to do. The flies on the other hand, don’t have a “go to the light” instinct, and fly around all over the jar (noisily, maybe annoyingly). Eventually the flies find the opening, and away they go. The bees stay collected at the closed end, still trying to get to the sunlight.

What’s the moral of the story?

I’m sure there are many, but here’s one: If we get stuck in “what we know” and don’t let others contribute their knowledge and insight, we might miss an innovative solution, a creative idea, a different path. Working with others can be challenging – annoying even – but diversity, innovation and creativity are linked – if the environment supports it.

You may never sees flies in the same light again (pun intended).

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Copyright 2015 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker, Facilitator and Author on issues of Diversity & Inclusion.

Building Community

18 Oct

Yesterday I came across a poster entitled How to Build Community (created by the Syracuse Cultural Workers 1999). The last 2 lines made me stop and pause, so I’d like to share one of them today.

“No one is silent, but many are not heard – work to change this.”

Powerful, isn’t it?

Think about it: we all have something to say; we have experiences and perspectives to share that could be valuable, help us to connect, inspire someone, or lead to change or innovation (for example). But not everyone is heard.

In fact, we often hear from the same people over and over again. Sometimes these are the people who are simply the loudest. Sometimes in organizations it’s about position and responsibility.  Sometimes it is because of who we are, and the privilege and power our identities carry.

Here is the challenge for all of us: let’s take a look around today and notice who is taking up space – in our meetings, in the copy room, in the subway, in the coffee shop, at our dinner table – and then let’s take a look at those who are not being heard, ask ourselves what we might be missing, and make some space to listen.

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Copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion

The 3rd Alternative

12 Oct

Stephen R. Covey has come out with a new book. It’s called The 3rd Alternative. I read about it in the Globe and Mail last week and it’s on my list of books to acquire. I think it would make a great read for any organization committed to diversity and inclusion. Here’s why:

One of the barriers to inclusion is the resistance to change. Organizations look for the best and brightest when they hire, only to often stifle the very talent they were seeking by being set in their ways, and refusing to see the value in “out of their box” thinking. 

And it’s not just in organizations! As human beings we often mix up “I have always done it this way” with “my way is the best way to do it” or even worse “my way the only way to do it”.

Diversity brings new ideas, perspectives, needs and realities – all of which can create conflict. Stephen Covey’s 3rd alternative is about dealing with conflict in a way that is truly win-win.  Harvey Schachter’s article in the Globe and Mail summarizes it well: The 3rd alternative, he writes, is “not a compromise, but a whole new approach that combines the best of both sides.” 

The article lists the 4 steps that Covey outlines in his book as:

  1. Ask the third alternative question
  2. Define criteria for success
  3. Create the third alternative
  4. Arrive at synergy

I’m smiling just re-reading the article, and I’m looking forward to the book!

I can’t help but wonder what great things we could achieve if we didn’t dig in our heels out of fear or a need to be right.

What if we asked the third alternative question and were open to seeing where our collective genius could take us – in organizations, in communities, in families… and globally!

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copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion

Supplier Diversity

27 Sep

One aspect of diversity we are not talking much about in Canada is Supplier Diversity. Growing in popularity in the USA and UK, Supplier Diversity is another way for a company to exercise their diversity and inclusion commitments.

Supplier Diversity is simple: it requires companies to take a look at the businesses they use as suppliers, and make conscious decisions to broaden the pool by using qualified minority-owned businesses.

I can already hear the arguments about preferential treatment, quotas and “needing to hire the best company for the job” (sound familiar?).  It begs the question: how are companies picking their suppliers now? Could it be that they are choosing suppliers that they have done business with for years, companies they know, or a company they own themselves…?

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like preferential treatment to me,  and not the meritocracy often used as an argument against diversity.  

Suppliers are at the mercy of “the Old Boys Network” just as new hires and employees up for promotion – it’s not just what you know, but who you know. Supplier Diversity shines a light on this and asks companies to take a look at how they can contribute to diversifying their pool of suppliers – essentially giving companies owned by women, visible minorities, aboriginal people, people with disabilities and youth a foot in the door in a system that can be just as exclusive as hiring and promotion (both intentionally, and unintentionally).

Just like commitments to diversity and inclusion internally (hiring, mentorship, sponsorship, etc) supplier diversity brings opportunities for innovation, competitiveness and market knowledge.

Think of what you could be missing.

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Copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion

For more information, check out: Diversity Business Network , WEConnect and the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council.

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