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Big Ideas in IDEA

CCDI Consulting's Monthly Newsletter for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility.

May 2024
Hello, and welcome to the May edition of our Big Ideas in IDEA newsletter! We're excited to dive into another month filled with enriching discussions and innovative ideas aimed at fostering change in our workplaces and communities.
This month, we're shedding light on some crucial topics and celebrating Asian Heritage Month with a wealth of resources. Let's explore what's in store:
  1. Navigating the Anti-Woke Movement— Witness the evolving dynamics within the IDEA landscape, where terminology undergoes rapid transformation, mirroring shifts in societal norms and attitudes. In this piece, we delve into the debate surrounding these linguistic changes, examining divergent perspectives on their impact. 
  2. Embracing Duality: Navigating the Complexities of LeadershipThis article guides you through the delicate balance leaders must strike—pushing for tangible results while fostering an inclusive environment. Discover the complexities of leadership that defy simplistic categorization, highlighting the depth and variety of approaches needed.

We are also excited to invite you to our upcoming webinar on Neurodiversity in the Workplace:

  • Date: May 15th, 2024
  • Time: 1-2 pm EST
  • Hosts: Angele Lalonde, our Director of Human Resources, and special guest Kristin Light, Sr. Engagement Strategist and Keynote Speaker.

Join us for this engaging session which offers insights into neurodiversity, evolving terminology, its importance in Canada, and strategies for integrating neurodiversity into our professional environments.
We are committed to engaging in these critical conversations and initiatives, empowering us all to contribute to meaningful progress. Your continued support and dedication to IDEA principles are invaluable. Let's persist in thinking expansively, and embracing inclusivity as we work towards a more equitable future.
Lisa Rogers,
Director, Marketing and Sales

Navigating the Anti-Woke Movement: A Reflection on Language in the IDEA Landscape

The IDEA landscape is changing. Language is changing, and terms like Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Justice, along with newer additions, are rapidly evolving, reflecting changing attitudes and societal norms. While some argue that these changes are for the better, others see them as limiting. Across the United States, from elementary to university education policies, words like antiracism, critical race theory, intersectionality, equity, and many more are being removed from the curriculum and school vocabulary1. In Canada, we are starting to see the same movement sprouting up in the way businesses are relabelling their IDEA specialist jobs to Social Impact Specialist or Internal Community Manager. Furthermore, legislation bills and laws in many provinces are reducing the language around equity issues in primary education classrooms.

Recently, Kimberlé Crenshaw spoke at the University of Calgary on the Anti-Woke movement across North America, and it really spoke to me about the work we are doing here at CCDI Consulting and what many of our clients are working towards. One term our team often experiences some pushback or hesitancy is "microaggression." Without fail, every couple of months this term receives an ick from many folks just starting their IDEA journeys. Our team has met time and time again around this exact term over the years on when we introduce this concept, why we should and shouldn't change the language around it, and we always land on this: This term represents the immense weight that the small acts people intend or don't intend to inflict on others adds up to. It is a term we introduce very briefly at the beginning of someone's IDEA journey but do not dive into deeply until some foundation knowledge is established. While we introduce the concept briefly to new IDEA learners, we refrain from delving deeper than introductions until a foundational understanding is established. This approach is taken to acknowledge the significance of the term and the complexity of accepting its everyday impact without undermining the experiences of those affected by it.

We are at a time in our socio-political climate where we are getting caught up in the battle of language rather than enacting change; because this language can be triggering, we are trying to soften or talk around the issues equity-deserving groups are still facing. The reluctance to engage with uncomfortable terminology reflects a broader resistance to IDEA practices. Terms like intersectionality, coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, are essential in recognizing the multifaceted nature of privilege and its role in perpetuating inequity. Removing such language not only erases the experiences of marginalized groups but also hinders the collective efforts toward inclusivity, justice, and equity. As Kimberlé Crenshaw says, "Intersectionality has given many advocates a way to frame their circumstances and to fight for their visibility and inclusion."

Now, here is the dilemma – while it's essential to meet individuals where they are in their personal growth or development journeys, we can't sidestep the critical issues of racism, discrimination, inequity, and privilege. If a manager is not yet willing to recognize their privilege, their learning journey may need to commence with discussions on bias. Similarly,  if they practise allyship in one-on-one interactions but struggle to implement it into their leadership style or organizational practices, they likely require learning about inclusive leadership practices. While those personal journeys start at different points, as IDEA or HR specialists striving for progress, we can't avoid the root issues and barriers that equity-deserving groups work to bring to light.

And this is where 'calling-in' becomes crucial in our daily efforts towards IDEA. Language is vital to unite and grasp the weight of the issues our work navigates. While calling out may shed light on divisive movements, addressing a colleague in a small project meeting through such a method often fails to produce the desired behavioural change. Calling-out usually means an immediate public response that shuts down a statement or claim. Conversely, 'calling-in' typically involves a private conversation after an incident that generates dialogue. Both approaches have value and are intended to address behaviours, yet they differ significantly. While calling-out is necessary for establishing safer space boundaries, it often fails to foster productive conversations aimed at understanding intentions and impacts for meaningful change. On the other hand, calling-in serves as a useful tool in facilitating reflection on one's intentions and the potential impact of their actions on others.

The language used is a powerful tool in your organization's IDEA journey, from uniting your team and learning complex issues to addressing problems and pain points. Meeting people where they are is vital to your organization, but supporting equity-deserving groups in the progress they have already made is integral to the work that has been done and that will continue to develop. Explore our learning solutions to see how we can support your and your organization's IDEA journey.


Embracing Duality: Navigating the Complexities of Leadership

In my capacity as a leader, the delicate balancing act I navigate often feels akin to walking a tightrope. While my overarching goal is to foster inclusivity, the relentless demands to achieve tangible results can tempt me to see challenges through a binary lens. The pervasive pressure and urgency that leaders contend with create a seemingly compelling argument for quick categorization: ideas are either worth exploring or dismissed, staff are perceived as either engaged or disengaged, and decisions are hastily labelled as right or wrong. 

The allure of this "either/or" approach lies in its apparent efficiency. Swift categorization appears to streamline the decision-making process, promising a reduction in the time it takes to resolve pressing issues. It provides a sense of clarity in an otherwise complex landscape, seemingly offering a shortcut through the intricacies of leadership. 

However, upon closer inspection, I recognize that this binary mindset oversimplifies the nuanced reality of the challenges we face as leaders. Issues rarely fit neatly into predefined categories. Ideas, even if not immediately apparent in their value, may hold potential for innovation when given the space to evolve. Staff engagement exists on a spectrum, and decisions often reside in the grey area between absolute right and wrong. 

This either/or approach, while momentarily expedient, minimizes the depth and complexity inherent in leadership dilemmas. It is in acknowledging and embracing the multifaceted nature of our responsibilities that we truly harness the potential for sustainable growth and success. As leaders, the journey involves finding harmony between the need for efficiency and the imperative to appreciate the richness of diverse perspectives and multifaceted solutions. 

The Harm of Either/Or Thinking

Stifling Innovation
In the ever-evolving world of business, leaders are often confronted with the need for innovation to stay competitive. However, either/or thinking tends to limit leaders to binary choices, stifling creativity and innovation. The challenges of navigating strategic decisions demand leaders who can embrace a "both/and" mindset, opening the possibility of integrating multiple perspectives for more innovative solutions. 

Reduced Adaptability
The ability to adapt to change is a cornerstone of effective leadership. Leaders must balance short-term goals with long-term strategies, a delicate act that requires a flexible mindset. An either/or mindset may hinder adaptability, preventing leaders from effectively responding to evolving challenges. Recognizing the importance of adaptability in the face of diverse organizational needs becomes crucial. 

Binary Leadership Limits Value Creation
Binary thinking limits leadership effectiveness and stifles value creation. Leaders often face contradictory pressures, and a rigid either/or approach can result in missed opportunities. By embracing "both-and" thinking, leaders can unleash their creativity and tap into the full spectrum of possibilities.

Embracing Duality

Recognizing Paradoxes
Leaders should acknowledge and accept the existence of paradoxes in leadership. A paradox is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be navigated. Leaders must recognize that contradictory pressures often require a "both/and" approach rather than an either/or choice. 

Cultivating a Both/And Mindset
Encouraging leaders to adopt a both/and mindset is critical. This involves recognizing that strength and vulnerability, risk-taking and caution, can coexist for effective leadership. In emotionally charged leadership scenarios, acknowledging and integrating both aspects becomes essential. 

Fostering Inclusive Decision-Making
Leaders should actively seek diverse perspectives and opinions, recognizing that inclusive decision-making leads to better outcomes. This involves moving away from a divisive either/or approach to a more collaborative and holistic decision-making process. 

Balancing Strength and Vulnerability
Leaders often face the challenge of balancing strength and vulnerability. While projecting confidence is essential, acknowledging vulnerability can build trust and authenticity. By recognizing that strength and vulnerability are not mutually exclusive, leaders can foster a workplace culture that encourages open communication and psychological safety. 

Integrating Both/And Leadership
In leadership across diverse organizations, embracing a both/and leadership approach involves recognizing the interconnected nature of seemingly opposing forces. Leaders can create workplaces that foster innovation, adaptability, and holistic well-being by acknowledging and embracing duality. 

In conclusion, the harm of either/or thinking in leadership is evident in its limitations on innovation, adaptability, and value creation. Embracing duality requires leaders to navigate paradoxes, cultivate a both/and mindset, foster inclusive decision-making, and balance strength with vulnerability. The complexities of leadership demand a nuanced and adaptive approach. By recognizing the interconnected nature of seemingly opposing forces, leaders can create workplaces that not only meet the challenges of the modern business landscape but also foster innovation, adaptability, and holistic well-being. 


Asian Heritage Month

May is recognized as Asian Heritage Month in Canada, a time to honour and learn about the significant contributions and achievements of Canadians of Asian descent. While celebrations date back to the 1990s, it was officially designated by the Government of Canada in 2002. Additionally, Ontario recognized May as South Asian Heritage Month in 2001.

This month not only celebrates these contributions but also reminds us to oppose anti-Asian racism and discrimination actively. We encourage you to explore various resources to enhance your understanding of the diverse Asian Canadian experience.

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.

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