In July, we had the pleasure to invite Manpreet Dhillon, Founder/CEO of Veza Global, to lead the discussion on how one can create inclusive workplaces and communities. Attendees joined us from across Canada over an hour-long virtual event via Zoom. Throughout the event, we’ve learned strategies and stories from Manpreet about doing our part as individuals and, as an organization, in shifting the understanding of inclusivity. How does our organization show up? Are we looking within the organization? We need to look within to create systemic changes in all aspects of the workplace and our communities. By creating an inclusive environment, we can start to make an impact to drive inclusive change.
Manpreet begins by discussing the principles of Veza Global and the importance of diversity of thought and inclusive culture. By giving access and opportunities to individuals that should already have access to them, then we can begin to shift the paradigm. Understanding who needs to be at the tables and the voices that need to be heard is building inclusivity.
A discussion started about the word “ally”, Manpreet explained we shouldn’t be self-identifying ourselves as an ally. Self-identifying, as an ally can do more harm than good. To be an ally, we must fully understand and experience members of a marginalized or mistreated group. Allyship isn’t defined as being supportive and empathizing with others, and we may not be able to completely understand as our intersectionality of identity can influence our understanding. It’s an active, consistent, and arduous practice of unlearning and re-evaluating, in which a person in a position of privilege and power seeks to operate in solidarity with a marginalized group.
Tips for being a better support/alliance are to understand your own unconscious bias, including underrepresented individuals, educate ourselves, open and accept feedback, speak up for others when they aren’t there, and don’t make assumptions without fully engaged in learning from others.
Feedback is an excellent tactic in creating inclusivity by listening and understanding the voices of the marginalized group. Actively asking for feedback can better help yourself understand marginalized individuals better.
Manpreet emphasized that creating inclusive communication is to think about what the listener/reader needs to hear to feel a part of the conversation. What you’re saying is sometimes not what others are hearing. We need to be conscious, actively listening and present in their communication. The language and tone we present in conversation can influence the direction of the dialogue, and we need a balance of leadership and empathy. Sometimes what we’re hearing and what we’re saying can be conveyed differently to others. Therefore, when we are present with someone else, we can connect and feel their emotion.
Emotions are an essential factor in creating change. It can be used as fuel. Frustration and anger can allow us to develop new systems to address change. At the same time, it can bring people together for a passionate reason for change. Therefore, we can create positive change with fuel by taking action in creating good for others. There is power in emotion to drive change.
Manpreet mentioned a take away can be acknowledging who needs to be at the table and who are the voices that need to be heard is building inclusivity in the workplace and your communities. Using our power and platform to offer others the opportunities they should have received. We are all capable of creating a more robust understanding and building a more inclusive culture. It starts from ourselves to continue to make actionable measures to allow members of marginalized or mistreated groups to be heard and represented.
Thank you to Manpreet for taking her time to teach us how we can do our Part to Create Inclusive Workplaces and Communities. Read more about Manpreet Dhillon here: https://www.vezaglobal.com/about/