Welcome to our February edition of Big Ideas in IDEA Newsletter! In this issue, we're shining a spotlight on the pillars that uphold our commitment to a more inclusive and diverse future. As we navigate through the pages, you'll find a tapestry woven with insights on allyship, the nuanced language of gender, and a treasure trove of resources to honour Black History Month.
Discover the core of workplace belonging and how leaders can nurture it in our 2024 kickoff webinar with Matteo Stewart on: Belonging: Fostering a Community of Inclusion and Belonging at Work.
Remember to take part in our IDEA Research on enhancing diversity and inclusion for the Black community within Canadian workplaces.
So, buckle up for a ride filled with enlightenment, reflection, and actionable insights.
Director, Marketing and Sales
Embracing Allyship in the Workplace
Allyship, the practice of supporting and advocating for equity-deserving groups, plays a crucial role in creating workplaces that celebrate cultural additions, challenge complacency, and promote justice. As a privileged, white, cis woman navigating the professional realm, my journey toward allyship has been one of self-discovery, education, and a commitment to dismantling systemic barriers.
The first step on the path to allyship involves acknowledging and understanding one's own privilege. As a white cis woman, I recognize the inherent privilege that comes with my identity. However, it is essential to emphasize that grappling with privilege has been a reflective process for me – one that I’ve navigated with a commitment to understanding rather than succumbing to shame. By fostering an open dialogue and self-reflection, I’ve strived to contribute to the broader conversation on privilege, aspiring to transform it into actionable steps that promote inclusivity. This mindful approach enables me to confront the complexities of privilege without allowing shame to impede my growth as I act in allyship.
One of the most significant lessons in my allyship journey has been the importance of active listening. By creating space for others to share their stories, concerns, and perspectives, I contribute to a workplace environment that is collaborative, innovative, and high-performing. Amplifying the voices of equity-deserving colleagues involves not only hearing their experiences but also actively advocating for their inclusion in decision-making processes.
Microaggressions, while subtle and often unintentional, perpetuate stereotypes and contribute to an unsafe and, at times, hostile work environment. As someone who strives to ally, it is my responsibility to recognize and address these microaggressions when I encounter them. This involves speaking up against inappropriate comments, promoting a culture of accountability, and engaging in open conversations about the impact of seemingly harmless actions. I have learned that allyship involves more than just passive empathy; it requires active intervention to create tangible change.
Allyship is most effective when it extends beyond individual efforts and becomes an organizational commitment. Collaborative allyship involves working together to create policies, practices, and a culture that actively promotes diversity and inclusion. This includes advocating for equitable hiring practices, promoting representation within leadership, and fostering a workplace culture that values and celebrates differences.
Here are some practical steps you can take towards allyship as an individual:
- Educate Yourself: Take the initiative to educate yourself about the histories, experiences, and challenges faced by equity-deserving groups. In the Canadian context, this might involve learning about the historical experiences of Indigenous peoples, understanding the impact of immigration policies, and being aware of the challenges faced by 2SLGBTQI+ communities.
- Listen Actively: Create space for colleagues to share their experiences and perspectives without judgment. Being there to listen and being that confidant (even if you feel like it’s not your place or that you don’t know much about the conflict) is helpful to coworkers going through a challenging time.
- Amplify Marginalized Voices: In meetings, discussions, and decision-making processes, actively amplify the voices of those who might be overlooked. This involves acknowledging and giving credit to the ideas and contributions of colleagues from underrepresented groups.
- Challenge Microaggressions: Be vigilant about challenging and addressing microaggressions when they occur. This involves not only intervening at the moment but also engaging in broader conversations about the impact of such behaviours on workplace culture.
- Advocate for Inclusive Policies: Use influence to advocate for policies that promote inclusivity. This might involve pushing for more opportunities to learn from one another and flexible work arrangements to accommodate diverse needs and benefits that cater to a range of family structures.
- Practice Self-Care: People who act as allies are bound to make mistakes on the journey toward cultural understanding. Learning about diverse perspectives is a time-intensive and sometimes uncomfortable process, so be gentle with yourself. Let go of the tendency to categorize ourselves as solely good or bad—often, the path of allyship resides in the nuanced and evolving space in between.
Here are some practical steps you can take towards allyship as an organization:
- Inclusive Leadership Training: This equips leaders with the knowledge and skills to create environments where allyship can thrive and is crucial for cascading the principles of allyship throughout the organizational culture.
- Diverse Representation: Ensuring diverse representation at all levels of the organization is a tangible way to signal a commitment to inclusivity by implementing strategies to recruit, retain, and promote individuals from equity-deserving groups.
- Regular Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) Audits: Conducting regular IDEA audits helps organizations assess their progress and identify areas for improvement via surveys, focus groups, and data analysis to gauge the experiences of employees and the effectiveness of IDEA initiatives.
- Employee Resource Groups: Establishing Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) provides a platform for employees to come together based on shared identities or experiences.
- Resources: Organizations can support allyship by providing resources, such as educational materials, workshops, and mentorship programs. In conclusion, embracing allyship in the workplace as a white cis woman involves a multifaceted journey of self-discovery, education, and advocacy. Recognizing and understanding my privilege, actively listening to the experiences of others, and amplifying equity-deserving voices are crucial steps in fostering an inclusive environment.
Gender-inclusive and Gender-neutral Language in the Workplace
As a linguist and IDEA consultant, it is important to me to keep informed about how we communicate with one another in Canadian workplaces. Our knowledge and understanding of gender are expanding, as is the language we use to describe it and refer to one another.
Both of Canada’s official languages, English and French, have grammatical features which are inherently gendered.
In English, certain nouns and pronouns are gender specific when referring to persons or relationships: “daughter,” “chairman,” “actress,” “he”/“she.” You may have heard feminine pronouns also used to refer to inanimate objects, such as ships or cars.
In French, each object is considered, grammatically, to be either masculine or feminine: “la lune,” “le bureau.” Some jobs or role titles may have grammatically feminine or masculine alternatives: “le directeur”/”la directrice.”
Despite these frameworks, we can adapt our language use to include gender-neutral and gender-inclusive nouns, pronouns, and grammatical structures, with the goal of creating a more welcoming environment for all – especially in workplaces!
Borrowing a definition from the Public Service Alliance of Canada, “gender-inclusive language is a way of communicating that strives to treat people of all genders and those with no gender with respect and dignity - with the goal of making everyone feel included.” The use of gendered language in the workplace has measurable impacts on recruitment, advancement and perceptions of fairness. This creates an additional business imperative to use gender-inclusive language.
Reviewing job postings, job descriptions, policy language, or promotional copy provides many opportunities to reflect values of inclusivity. Tools like the Gender Decoder can help, as can being mindful of the language we use when writing, speaking, or signing.
Some examples of applying gender-inclusive language alternatives in workplace language are:1. Replacing gender-specific terms with gender-neutral terms:
- Stewardess vs. Flight attendant
- Manpower vs. Workforce
- Ombudsman vs. Ombudsperson
- Man-made vs. Artificial
- Husband/Wife vs. Spouse, partner
- Man up vs. Toughen up
2. Replacing gendered titles with neutral terms:
- Dear sir/madam vs. Dear [professional title]
- Ladies and gentlemen vs. Everyone, folks
3. Replacing possessive pronouns with definite or indefinite articles:
- “If a complaint is submitted, the Ombudsman is required to submit his related report within three days.” vs. “If a complaint is submitted, the Ombudsperson is required to submit a report/the related report within three days.”
4. Using epicine or duplicated forms in French:
- « L’enseignant » ou « L’enseignante » vs. « La personnel enseignant »
- « femme » ou « homme » vs. « individu »
- « Les étudiantes et les étudiantes »
5. Using interpoints in French, along with adjective declensions:
- « Le collaborateur » ou « La collaboratice » vs. « La.Le collaborateur.ice »
- « Les traducteur.rices sont competétent.es »
6. Using neutral pronouns and phrases:
- “Employees are entitled to three weeks of vacation per year. To request vacation, he/she must request time off from his/her manager.” vs. “Employees are entitled to three weeks of vacation per year. To request vacation, the employee must request time off from their manager.
Some linguists, grammarians and critics of gender theory oppose the use of “they” as a singular pronoun.
For example, in the sentence: “The new manager will arrive next week; they will be given a tour of the first floor,” some will consider the use of “they” as ungrammatical, and only applicable in contexts referring to plural antecedents or multiple persons.
However, the use of the phrase “they” in a gender-neutral, singular context is perfectly grammatical as a standard third-person, gender-neutral pronoun. It is also a respectful way to refer to all genders.
Seeing yourself, your experience, and your identity reflected in the language you encounter can help you relate to what you are reading. Challenging yourself to increase your knowledge and usage of gender-inclusive language can improve your empathy and help you reach wider audiences more effectively.
At CCDI Consulting, our work intersects with and incorporates gender-inclusive language every day. Whether we’re facilitating learning sessions on Gender Diversity in the Workplace or Inclusive Communications or conducting comprehensive policy reviews with an IDEA lens, we do our best to live our values of inclusivity through the language we use.
We hope you consider your audience and your impact by reaching out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and by checking out the helpful links below:
- United Nations guidelines for gender-inclusive language in English
- Amnesty International – guide de langage inclusif
- Liste de termes épicènes ou neutres pour la rédaction épicène | BDL (gouv.qc.ca)
- Canadian Digital Service – Writing without excluding: Inclusivity in the French language
- Government of Canada – Gender-inclusive, non-binary, and gender-neutral language in English writing
Celebrating Black History Month
Black History Month offers a profound opportunity to reflect on, celebrate, and educate oneself about the rich history, achievements, and challenges of Black communities in Canada. Recognizing this, we have curated an array of resources aimed at deepening our understanding and appreciation of Black Canadian history. From insightful articles and keynote lectures to compelling books and educational guides, these resources serve as a beacon for individuals and organizations striving to foster inclusivity, equity, and awareness. Whether you're seeking to engage in meaningful conversations, expand your knowledge, or support the fight against racism, we have carefully selected materials that provide a comprehensive starting point for anyone looking to honour Black History Month and contribute to a more inclusive society year-round.
- 11 things to know about of Black Canadian History | Canadian Immigrant
- About Black History Month - Canada.ca
- Black Communities in Canada - NFB
- Black History Month 2024 Keynote Lecture | Equity at McGill - McGill University
- Black History Month - Spotlight | University of Saskatchewan (usask.ca)
- CBC News | Being Black in Canada
- Organizations and educational resources on the history of Black communities in Canada - Canada.ca
- Resources - Racism, anti-black racism - EN (ccdi.ca)
- The Difference Between Being Anti-racist, Non-racist, and an Ally (ccdiconsulting.ca)
- 3 Tips to Keep the Conversation on Black History Month Going All Year (ccdiconsulting.ca)
- Amazing Black Atlantic Canadians: Inspiring Stories of Courage and Achievement by Canadian Author, Lindsay Ruck.
- Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada by Lawrence Hill.
- Magnetic Equator by Kaie Kellough.
Big Ideas in IDEA Monthly Poll: February Edition
Previous Poll Findings
In our recent IDEA poll, we reached out to our valued audience to better understand how they prefer to learn and engage with crucial topics surrounding inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility. The results reveal diverse preferences and underscore opportunities for tailored approaches to promoting inclusivity.
Among our respondents, 45% favour attending in-person workshops and training sessions, emphasizing the significance of face-to-face interactions and immersive learning experiences. An impressive 75% of respondents preferred online webinars or virtual training sessions, highlighting the convenience and accessibility of virtual platforms. Additionally, self-directed eLearning modules are preferred by 55% of respondents, demonstrating the importance of accessible, on-demand resources for independent learning.
Reading articles and newsletters on the subject captured the attention of 65% of respondents, showcasing the significance of curated content in educating and engaging individuals on inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility.
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) or affinity networks were preferred by 30% of participants, emphasizing the importance of creating supportive environments for these individuals.
Open dialogues and discussions resonated with 45% of participants, emphasizing their value as catalysts for change and platforms for sharing experiences and perspectives.
To engage our audience further, it's crucial to recognize that 40% follow social media accounts and influencers discussing these topics, and 35% have an interest in podcast or audio learning. This highlights the importance of offering content in various formats to cater to different learning preferences.
In conclusion, our IDEA poll analysis reveals a spectrum of preferences when it comes to learning and engaging with inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility topics. To embrace inclusivity fully, we must accommodate these diverse learning styles by tailoring our efforts to reach individuals through their preferred methods. Doing so can make meaningful strides towards a more equitable and inclusive society.
In Case You Missed It
Disclaimer: Our newsletter and blogs feature personal opinions and diverse viewpoints. We aim to create a safe space for our team to share their perspectives on diversity and inclusion. Please note that individual articles may not align with every reader's view or comprehensively cover a topic. We appreciate the diversity of opinions and respect our team's contributions.