Tag Archives: visible minorities

Visual Inclusion

7 Sep

I’ve just had a baby, and so we have sent and received many cards over the past weeks. We sent “thank you for the shower gift” cards, and have received “congratulations on the birth of your child” cards. Interestingly, none of the cards that include photos or pictures have brown or black babies on them. All of the little feet and the drawn babies are white.


In workshops I often speak about marketing to a diverse population and the difference it makes to see oneself reflected in advertising.  In business, it should be a mirror of what is happening within an organization; the last thing you do instead of the first. The best examples I have seen to date are TDs ads. They have everyone sitting in that green chair – different colours, ages, and couples. And I know they work hard (at least in the LGBTQ community) to give back and make a difference not just in the community but internally for their employees. So their ads are a visual representation of what they believe in. It is part of walking the talk.

But greeting cards aren’t advertising.

If almost 50% of the current Toronto population is visible minority, and if the projected national visible minority/foreign born population by 2031 is 29%-32%, I’m guessing there are a lot of non-white babies being born. And if we are truly interested in being inclusive, someone would create cards with an option of baby feet with various skin tones.

This is not creating an inclusive workplace or ensuring human rights, but it is a symptom of an oversight – of not thinking about what it means to include everyone. And these “small” symptoms are what make advocating for workplace inclusion and human rights a struggle.

I love the cards we have received, and the sentiments inside are what are important to me. But the fact that there is no choice except white babies to send those sentiments irks me. It’s like we don’t exist.  What if we only had cards with brown or black baby feet to choose from?

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Copyright 2012 Annemarie Shrouder
Author, Speaker,  and Facilitator on issues of Diversity and Inclusion.


How we (still) use race to identify people…

22 Jun

I’ve been thinking a lot about the two recent shootings in Toronto and the role of race in how media gets reported.

Turns out I’m not the only one – earlier this week the morning DJs (Mark and Jem) on G 98.7FM brought it up and a few people called in.  True, the Eaton Centre shooting affected more people than the one on College Street this week, but how race is reported when crimes occur is an interesting topic of conversation from a diversity perspective. Race is a factor – not the only one, but a factor nonetheless in how media is reported. The question is, why? And why is it still happening in Toronto in2012?

Although the print media didn’t reveal the race of the Eaton Centre shooting suspect, the radio news apparently did.  The College Street suspect, on the other hand, was not racially identified.

The Eaton Centre shooting seems to also have been more widely covered by the news. Granted, more people were affected at the Eaton Centre, it’s a mall, and it is a popular tourist destination. But they both happened in public spaces.

If you pay attention to how suspects are identified in the news, you may notice that we are much more likely to hear about their skin colour if the suspect is not white.  It can’t be a numbers thing, since people of colour make up close to half of the city’s population (47% in the 2006 census).  It is therefore not about making it easier to narrow down the search.

So what gives?

Seems like regardless of numbers, people of colour are still the “Other”, and skin colour is still used as a marker of difference – when the person is not white. The result, in the case of crimes, is that “suspect” and “person of colour” are likely more closely linked in our subconscious…and voila, we have further ingrained stereotypes.

And it’s not just the media: skin colour is also a not-so-uncommon descriptor in personal life as well –  but again, usually only if the person isn’t white.  Pay attention for the next little while, and see.

Hmm….maybe we haven’t come as far as we’d like to think.


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copyright 2012 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion


MBA Diversity

12 Sep

I have spent the past 4 days with hundreds of Schulich MBA students. A colleague of mine was running the team building program for them, and I was in charge of the diversity session.

It was a great experience, and I couldn’t help but notice the diversity (or in some cases, lack thereof) within the over 400 students (full and part time) that came through over the four days:

– culturally, the majority of students were of South Asian origin, followed by Asian

– about 80% of the students were male

– there was no one with a physical disability (that was evident, anyway)

– racially, the majority of the students were Brown (various shades of “people of colour”), followed by White and then Black

And here is where the numbers stood out the most for me. In a sea of different skin colours, the number of Black students was so low that I think I can actually remember the faces of each one. I think the final number was 9 (5 Black women and 4 Black men). That’s about 2%.


It reminds me of town hall meetings about high secondary school drop out rates (also known as “push out” rates) for kids of colour in Toronto. But not all of the Black students were local, or even Canadian…

Things that make you go “hmm….”

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copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker & facilitator on issues of diversity & inclusion
www. beeing.ca

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