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Photos: Jenna Marie Wakani/Instagram: @jmwakani

IN Community: Pride At Work Canada Sparks Conversations and Drives Change

Takeaways from a day of shared learning and networking centring diversity, equity and inclusion…

By Jumol Royes 

In-person events are back, and we’re here for it. 

Pride at Work Canada and lead sponsor Scotiabank hosted an in-person leadership event for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) professionals and senior business executives earlier this month at BLG – Borden Ladner Gervais in downtown Toronto. 

Pride at Work Canada empowers Canadian employers to build workplaces that celebrate all employees regardless of gender expression, gender identity and sexual orientation. 

The event, appropriately called SPARK, provided a space for participants to find inspiration, leave with a new perspective and spark impactful change while gaining a better understanding of the intersectionality of Canada’s LGBTQ2+ communities, developing a new outlook on solving DEI challenges and making connections with business leaders across diverse industries. 

Speakers included Pride at Work Canada’s executive director, Colin Druhan, and Chris Bergeron, vice-president, inclusive creativity at Cossette. 

Attendees had an opportunity to participate in one of three roundtable conversations exploring the intersection of LGBTQ2+ inclusion with Indigenous solidarity (co-led by Tim Geauvreau, finance and administration for Workforce Warriors and Misha Goforth Pride at Work Canada’s project manager, research), anti-Black racism (co-led by Hildah Otieno Juma, executive director of the Black Talent Initiative and Druhan) and accessibility (co-led by Melissa Egan, national lead for Episodic Disabilities and Jade Pichette, Pride at Work Canada’s director of programs).  

Pride at Work Canada also created separate action plans to address these priority issues in their content and organization following the launch of their first official strategic plan covering 2021-2023

Here are three takeaways from a day of shared learning and networking. 

We are spiritual beings having a human experience

Traditional Anishinaabe Grandmother Kim Wheatly, more affectionately known as Grandmother Kim, welcomed everyone with a heart-centred reminder that we’re all connected to nature, the ancestors and each other, and no one journeys through this life alone. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and to forget that we’re human beings, not human doings. When working with and in diverse communities and driving change both within and outside of our organizations, it’s essential that we take time to tend to our bodies, minds and souls. 

Moving beyond the business case for LGBTQ2+ inclusion

For years, the business case for LGBTQ2+ inclusion – diverse teams are more innovative, achieve better ROI and are more productive – led the conversation among DEI leaders and business executives. But Druhan has come to believe that the research that informed the business case is flawed. The truth is, it’s not all about profits. Instead, DEI should be solving problems for the workforce, including addressing issues like biphobia, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination, and advancing equity-deserving communities so that everyone has access to good jobs and can show up to work as their authentic selves. 

We are stronger, more resilient and more creative than we could ever imagine

Bergeron’s keynote address highlighted the stark reality that as LGBTQ2+ folks, we spend a significant amount of our time and energy fighting; first ourselves, and then everyone else in the workplace in effort to drive change and create safer spaces. If we’re lucky, we eventually find ourselves in a place where we’re happy working. Now imagine a world where the fight is no longer necessary. Who would you be and what would you do and create with that restored time and energy? If you remove the fight, all that’s left is the strength.  

Check out the photo gallery below for images from SPARK:

JUMOL ROYES is IN Magazine’s director of communications and community engagement, a GTA-based storyteller and glass-half-full kinda guy. He writes about compassion, community, identity and belonging. His guilty pleasure is watching the Real Housewives. Follow him on Instagram @jumolroyes.  

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