This week I received a powerful call to action from Chandran Fernando, my friend, mentor and sponsor. He was urging leaders to do something that will evolve our systems. “I call upon you to get uncomfortable and confront the inequities that exist and continue to permeate in our workplaces and society.”
Like many of you, I have watched in horror at what happened in the US to George Floyd, upset to my core that we were witnessing a black man being murdered simply because he was black.
Sadly we’ve known for years that racial discrimination has existed, not just in the US but in Canada too.
In fact, I know this from personal experience as my son-in-law is a person of colour and whenever we travel together, he inevitably gets pulled over at the airport and has been stopped by the police locally when he’s driving my car.
As a privileged white woman, I can only begin to imagine the fear and pressure facing people of colour. No wonder there is such anger and pain out there. On Black-out Tuesday, one of my members, Kimberley Robb posted a video explaining what it was like growing up black. It moved me, especially when, as a new mother she said that she was so relieved that she’d had a daughter, and not a son, as she would be terrified for a son.
When Amy and I were writing our book Good Enough, we wanted to gain the perspective of women of colour, as we sensed instinctively that they would have a lot to say about not feeling good enough. And sadly we were right. I remember one woman sharing that she always felt judged, as if she didn’t have the right to be successful or to own a business. This belief held her back and limited her.
How do we change this deep-rooted racial prejudice? How do we raise our children to think and behave differently? Because I think that’s where we can start, by educating our children. Here’s a list of children’s books and books for adults so we can all learn and adjust our lens.
But it is more than just educating ourselves. We have to be prepared to listen, take action, to demonstrate in real time that we are equal opportunity employers and not judge people by their colour, sexuality or appearance. As an event planner, for example, I am always intentional in my choice of speakers, making sure that we have diversity.
So just as Chandran challenged me to write something, I pass on the challenge – what can you do?
Company of Women
I have had an eclectic career from running non-profit organizations and being editor of a national magazine, to working for government on women’s issues. In 2003 I launched Company of Women, an organization that supports women in business. A prolific blogger, I also write for the Huffington Post, and several other online publications. I am the author of five books on women and entrepreneurship, and co-author of Good Enough. Embrace who you are. Unleash your brilliance. which is available on amazon.ca In June, 2016 I launched Full Circle Publishing offering one-stop services to get your words out into the world.