Dear Veza Global Supporters,
It is important to set the goals, reflect and express gratitude where needed. I wanted to take this time to express my gratitude for all your support this past year. 2020 has been a year of learnings, growth, challenges, awarenesses and impact. For those within the Veza community, many of you have been great supporters in many ways. Our team at Veza, rose to the challenge when the lockdown’s happened, the anti-Asian racism increased, George Floyd was murdered and the #blacklivesmatter movement gained a second wind. We rose through supporting our colleagues through directing individuals in need to the right organizations who had stepped up. We ourselves, took a backseat while we funneled equity, diversity and inclusion work to other disproportionately represented groups who specialized in supporting Black, Indigenous and Anti-Racism. We knew for ourselves that was the right thing to do as it is a marathon, not a sprint. We wanted to remind you all too, exactly that – the work you do is a marathon, not a sprint so the impact you want to make will happen.
We were able to contribute to the conversation and our impact through having the conversations, speaking at workshops/panels, and educating ourselves on how to be better and do better. Through our own audits, advisory, training work, we were able to bring economic empowerment to disproportionately represented groups by impacting 500,000 people in 2020. We thank you for your continued support in sharing our services so that we could create this impact.
In this last year, we have had a number of memorable highlights that kept us going. We relaunched the ASCEND program for skilled immigrants with the Immigrant Employers Council of BC.
We worked in partnership with HR Tech Group to create a Diversity and Inclusion Hub of curated over 300 equity, diversity and inclusion resources. Through this partnership, we audited various tech companies to help them understand where they are on their EDI journey and their path forward.
Our team created a number of resources to help individuals and organizations to be more inclusive.
We worked closely with the Women’s Enterprise Centre Team to support immigrant women entrepreneurs in the province in terms of peer mentoring, funding and resources.
We had the privilege of working with Community Future’s Entrepreneurs with Disabilities program and coached a few of their entrepreneurs on their business ideas.
We worked with some outstanding individuals who are so committed to creating inclusive cultures in various industries from not for profit, tech, real estate, restaurant, government and law enforcement.
What to look forward to in 2021
In the upcoming year, we are looking forward to continuing our equity, diversity and inclusion work and impact. We have some exciting new announcements of programs coming out this year.
Thank you to each of you for helping us make the impact that we are working to make. There are so many people to thank for this journey, each of them contributed in their own way.
This morning I was reading a tweet how there was a call out for black producers in a Facebook group and there were comments how it was anti-white, racist and whatever else the individuals decided to call it.
This thread triggered for me a lesson I learnt back in 2012 when I first fully stepped into working with at that time ethnic women (now use the term women of culturally diverse backgrounds). I was tasked with doing research on what are challenges for women in general professionally and business. I decided to include the angle of first generation and immigrants as I felt the challenges would be different than those of white women. At that time, there was not much research available how race and culture influences pay equity and career paths so I had to figure out a way to test my hypothesis that there was a double glass ceiling for women of culturally diverse backgrounds. I remember having many conversations during that time that the issues for women were all the same and it was not sitting well with me. It also wasn’t sitting well with me that we would make networking groups exclusive as then we are not practicing inclusion then either.
I continued to do my own research and held a focus group of women of various cultural backgrounds to understand what were their challenges and barriers they needed to overcome in the workplace and in business in hopes that I would be proven wrong that we don’t really need to have culturally focused groups.
Fortunately and unfortunately, I was proven wrong. In this focus group and much more research to follow, it was proven that individuals do find a deeper sense of belonging, acceptance and being understood when there were people who they felt would understand their background, upbringing and maybe even resembled them in some way. There was an affinity (the unconscious tendency to get along with others who are like us. It is easy to socialize and spend time with others who are not different) bias that shows up naturally and there was a sense of bonding and community that existed amongst others who felt familiar to them.
Over the last few years, I continued to support women of culturally diverse backgrounds while using the term “culturally diverse” to encompass all those who do have cultural influences either it be the race, ethnicity, culture and location. This was my way of creating inclusion for all women regardless of the color of their skin with the understanding the color of our skin does impact our experiences in this world differently.
As I read the tweet this morning, I was inspired to share that there is a place for groups to come together based on their commonalities as it provided them a safe space and a sense of belonging that other places can not provide. It provides them a place where others understand their experiences. It provides them a place where they can show up as their whole selves without having to explain anything. It is a place which may be less exhausting for them as they can just be. Therefore it is not anti-white nor is it a way to perpetuate racism. It is a space for them and that’s it. It is about them.