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Earlier this week I attended a webinar called Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion: Why it matters now and after Covid-19 hosted by Manpreet Dhillon from Veza Global along with Kristin Bower and Jessi Dhanju. Kristin, Jessi and I discussed what we were seeing and hearing in the equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) space during the pandemic and what the future holds.

During our discussion, we spoke about stories of Care Aides who are not provided the proper PPE equipment, women who felt family duties fell predominantly on their "plates", and ethnic minorities dying at a disproportionate rate. We cannot ignore these stories and these conversations help us understand long-standing systemic societal issues related to a lack of equity, diversity, and inclusion. With this in mind, I started thinking about what our future holds post-pandemic and how companies can support workers.

Here are my top 3:

1. Recognize the importance of mental health and provide more benefits. 1 in 5 workers face a mental health challenge every year. During the first couple of weeks of our lockdown in Canada, I remember feeling really irritated and scared. I was worried for my family and co-workers. Companies need to reevaluate their benefits with respect to mental health. Check out the resources here: Thank you to Kristin Bower for sharing and Dr. Joti Samra for creating these resources.

2. Provide flexible work policies. If a firm cannot trust employees to get their work done, then there is a bigger issue to address. I have been working from home since 2004 in a variety of roles. I may be working at 6:00 AM or at 6:00 PM on any given work day. Note, though, that I am not required to work 12 hours straight. My employer trusts me to get the work done and schedule meetings and work effort accordingly. Companies need to trust their employees and if they cannot, then it's time to have serious discussions as to why. Here is an excellent resource

3. During this pandemic, we are connecting more than normal. We're doing this virtually for the purposes of work and to ensure our colleagues are healthy and doing well. However, post-pandemic, I suspect we will go back go back to our norm. I suggest that we continue to connect just as much, either in person or virtually. Hold regular virtual coffee chats in addition to in person coffee or lunch meetings.

There's just one more thing I will be doing post-pandemic. That is, I will be checking in regularly with my team and extended family to say "I hope you are safe and healthy". I didn’t say or write that pre-pandemic, but this gives me an opportunity to demonstrate that I do care. This pandemic has shown us that the world is small and we are all connected. As humans we crave that connection and this is an opportunity for us to think about WE and not just ME.

#StaySafe #StayHealthy

Let's continue the conversation reach out:

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Day 2 started with a lovely breakfast. Conferences are better with good food!

Laura Sabattini provided a quick recap and then we jumped into “You can’t have belonging without beating bias” by Callie Gauld and Heather Hansen from Esurance. They started by asking questions using the app. As a facilitator, I really appreciated an interactive tool. Callie and Heather emphasized experiential learning to discuss bias. They discussed cultural bias using the Intercultural Development Inventory® (IDI®). Their approach fights the stigmas that exist by first assessing an individual’s intercultural competence.

Sasha Strock presented “Gender expression and transgender inclusion at work”. She discussed how she transitioned at age 50 and her subsequent experience in the workplace. Sasha did not use any slides so we could focus on her message. She took the time to discuss terms to use and shared a statistic that 24% of youth between 13-17 years old do not identify as male or female. Sasha was impressive, vulnerable, and compelling all at once.

The session on “Aging” by Patrick Arbore was informative and helped to break down myths. Ageism is real and alive in some companies. Patrick shared that 65+ is the fastest growing population and that the way people look at retirement is changing. As life expectancies have increased it is possible that you could have 30 years of retirement and people must prepare for this possibility. He discussed common myths such as older people dislike technology. Patrick also shared ideas about how to slowly move into retirement such as working 3 days a week and mentoring up and coming managers.

Natalie Simmons, from Zendesk discussed employee resource groups (ERGs) , Intersectionality, Allyship & Belonging. She shared how Zendesk is prioritizing intersectionality, so that ERGs have events together and really create a culture of belonging. Having a shared calendar, slack channel and a global meeting quarterly allows the ERG leads to come together to share ideas and learn from each other.

Unfortunately, I needed to leave to catch my flight back to Vancouver and couldn’t attend the entire final panel session. If you attended, please let me know what I missed. I had an opportunity to meet some wonderful people who are doing great work every day. Thank you to all the speakers as well as Michael Nenninger, Felicia Rivers, Alyssa Lin, Susi Collins, Jorge Quezada, Miguel Rocha, Tolonda Tolbert, Paul Barrows, Gary Ross and Shelly Allen who I had an opportunity to meet. You are fantastic champions who are driving change.

I look forward to the next Conference Board conference!

@conferenceboard #tcbinclusion #inclusiveleadership #inclusionfirst #psychologicalsafety #sharelearnings

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On November 12th and 13th, I had the opportunity to attend the Conference Board’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Conference. This year’s theme was “Bridging The Bridge To Belonging”. This is a recap of my experience of the event on the first day.

Over 1.5 days, we had over 10 speakers including myself. My presentation discussed common types of privilege and various ways to approach the conversation (i.e. the PIE Method). Feel free to reach out to me about the method.

The first day started with Laura Sabattini a principal researcher at the Conference Board. She welcomed us and shared her perspective on how belonging is at the core of D&I.

Lisa Gutierrez from Indiana University Health held a session on “Dimensions and Connections” focused on defining the IT when it comes to diversity and inclusion. She emphasized that, to truly belong in the workplace, we need a common language and buy in from the top executives. Lisa had the audience perform a word challenge exercise. Each person had to come up with 10 words associated with the word diversity. At my table of seven, no one had the same 10 words!

Amy Cappellanti-Wolf from Symantec shared the firm’s 3-pillar approach to D&I. The focus was on defining D&I and amplifying it at the top, identifying business processes where bias creeps in and develop inclusive leadership practices. Symantec spent their energy on recognition and within one year there were over 38,000 recognition moments. New hires were 3x less likely to leave in the first year when they were recognized. This shouldn’t be a surprise as recognition is one way to ensure individuals are seen and valued. The effort to recognize someone is not difficult and can be as simple as acknowledging her/his work or mentioning him/her in a team meeting. In 2018, I sent over 2100 recognition awards at SAP to thank people who had taken our D&I training. Each one of those was also seen by the person’s manager. I am proud to say that out of 96,000 SAP staff, I am the 2nd person to send the most awards in our organization.

Michelle Fang’s session from Turo was impressive. She is Turo’s Chief Legal Officer and she shared her “aha” moment when she noticed an image that illustrated who was being promoted as partners. The image included only white male lawyers. Michelle shared how Turo partnered with the Diversity Lab to focus on measurement and tracking, developing the pipeline, mentorship, and sponsorship.

Intuit’s Chief D&I Officer is Scott Beth. His session was called “What are you hiding?”. He mentions that belonging brings out the best in people. Intuit has 4 focus areas: Objectivity, Belonging, Voice and Growth. Objectivity is focused on consistent hiring criteria to prevent the “I don’t know I just don’t think they are a good fit” comment. Belonging focuses on building a diverse team and fostering 1:1 with managers and employees. Voice focused on interrupting bias and giving feedback when people are behaving exclusively. The Growth area discussed making feedback part of the norm and talking openly about mistakes and failures. I think this is so important because we still, in 2019, do not share full failures.

In Reuben Miller’s session he discussed two topics: how Intel created an Allyship program called Ally Nation and how they solved a retention problem through Warmline. Their ally program focused on specific behaviours such as: demonstrate empathy, build trust through active listening, point out bias, and advocate those who feel marginalized. I was extremely impressed with Intel’s Warmline program because a few years ago they realized they were losing employees, so they created an anonymous hotline for employees to reach out. A case manager (who was part of the D&I team) would be assigned and work with the employee through the issue. The results: 82% save rate. This meant 8 out of 10 employees were retained. This is fantastic considering there is a “war for talent” and the cost to replace talent is expensive.

Our day ended with a topic we don’t discuss typically in corporations: religion. Farah Siddiqui from Salesforce shared her journey on the creation of Faithforce, an employee resource group focused on all religions. Farah shared how, in the beginning, she would have to pretend she wasn’t hungry during Ramadan and pray quickly in stairwells. Her manager was very supportive, and she was able to create Faithforce to acknowledge, support, celebrate and foster understanding of global faith. Since 2017, it has grown to 13 chapters with 3000 members. It made me reflect on my session where I spoke about religious privilege and asked the question why is Christmas (Dec 25th) a statutory holiday? What about Hannukah or Diwali or...?

That’s it for Day 1. Stay tuned for my Day 2 recap.

@conferenceboard #tcbinclusion #inclusiveleadership #diversityandinclusion #conferenceboard

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