Eight years ago to be exact, I headed one of the biggest multiculturalism grant in Canada. Written originally as a farewell note to volunteers, supporters, partners, I tucked it away somewhere and did not send. Today, I am sharing these nuggets I have learned along the way. Here are the next 7 points as food for thought.
3. It takes time to build respect for diversity and it involves educating everyone you meet. Increase the function of education. Apply intentionality to get results.
· Respect the contribution of others
· Expand on what has been accomplished
· Collaborate and challenge
4. Push the envelope when needed. Say No to Mediocrity. Stimulate generative thinking. Create the space to innovate. A little push, a little more effort can translate to bigger impact at less cost or implication. They say it takes 3-5 meetings for people to get past the courtesies and stereotypes to create meaningful connections. Go beyond the usual song, dance, and festivals.
5. Be conscious of the power dynamics that one is not perpetuating the power imbalance that already exists in the community. Being in a position of power, a visible minority at that, it was sending different messages- it is both the message and the messenger.
6. Don’t take No! for an answer. The No is actually not now or maybe. Institutions are risks-averse by nature. They have a delayed reaction to changes in the world/environment. Learn to know how to take the first step with boldness. But know the limits of your scope too!
7. The bureaucrats, the executives and the taxpayers want the same. They want to see success. Demonstrate success early. Learn from early adapters on what sticks and what is really important. They have valuable contacts, connections, and stories to share at the tip of their fingers.
8. Develop the competence in organizations, people and networks to navigate persistent challenges on an on-going basis. When something happens, people can go past beyond their organizations to call one another for help and support.
9. Didn’t I say this before? Work towards collective impact. Big players, small players, unknown players should work together.
10.Celebrate Achievements. Keep up the good work, keep the energies up, keep the people informed all the time. Keep the loop closed.
With the benefit of hindsight, we can take a more objective view of achievements and failures. Take it with a grain of salt. Start with humility knowing that you do not know a lot of things and end with humility knowing that you still have a lot to learn about the community.
If this is something that resonates with you, let me know what you think and share your own lessons learned as an intercultural navigator for your communities.
10 Lessons learned as a Diversity Coordinator Part 1
4 Prime Benefits of a Diversified Board/Committee
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