The Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) Blog Series is designed to share key insights from our ELP program with the entirety of our membership. After each program session, we will share key highlights and resources for those interested in delving further into the topic.
For our third module session, Steve D. Anderson, Deputy Mayor for the Town of Shelburne, Ontario, and a Regional Councillor for the County of Dufferin, led a discussion for ELP participants centered on Teams and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI).
Prior to the session, Steve asked all participants to read the following resources:
During his presentation, Steve explored themes of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace during his session presentation. These themes were presented in the context of the Deputy Mayor’s lived experience; first as a young student and lawyer, then as Deputy Mayor for the Town of Shelburne and a Regional Councillor for the County of Dufferin.
The presentation was a candid exploration of what it means to belong, the pressure to conform, and the doubt and trepidation historically marginalized groups might feel in the workplace. Ultimately, Steve told the group that he found his voice while “standing up” for what he knows is just, and by leaning into his experience, “whether or not it is the popular decision.” He encouraged white allies to ask questions of their colleagues and employers, and to “show-up” for BIPOC within the workplace, and beyond —whether or not it is the popular decision.
Participants had been posed with a pre-session reflection, “How comfortable are you with bringing your authentic-self to the workplace?”, which served as the foundation for the opening conversation. This elicited many responses, some spoke about the role privilege plays in their professional experience, while other expressed their discomfort in bringing their “authentic-self” to the workplace. Subsequently, a series of open-ended questions were posed:
Question 1 Since the killing of George Floyd and the social justice movement that followed; what have you or your organization done to advance EDI in a meaningful way?
Question 2 What do you believe are some of the biggest challenges to having organizations, companies, political and community structures to see the value of diversity, equity and inclusion?
Question 3 What suggestions do you have to combat “systemic discrimination” to create positive work spaces and a better community?
The discussion that followed highlighted a considerable desire to further professional communities’ discussions around the topic of EDI. Moreover, participants expressed their challenges and frustration as early-career planners, especially when it came to “speaking up” in the workplace about injustice.
The most substantial discussion was centered on “imposter syndrome”, to which, Steve encouraged participants to be honest, open, and willing to learn from others. Most poignantly, he assured them that they are in their roles because they were chosen to do the work and that they “belong” professionally and in ally-ship.
You can learn more about Deputy Mayor Steve D. Anderson by reading his recently published autobiography, Driven to Succeed.