Confidently Managing Conflict Is a Non-Negotiable Leadership Skill

Confidently Managing Conflict Is a Non-Negotiable Leadership Skill

Conflict management is one of the greatest skills a leader can have. Many people are experiencing past triggers that directly affect their work experience. In times where societal pressures are impacting our businesses and each of our employees, emotions run high.

For instance, recently, we had a conversation with a team member of one of our clients who grew up in a war-torn region in the world.

They grew up not trusting authority, thinking there was constant corruption, and not knowing whom to trust, even amongst peers.

These thoughts impacted their ability to collaborate with team members, have authentic discussions with their manager, and even take leadership of their projects.

These thoughts weren’t because they didn’t know what to do but because their past experiences impacted their present mindset and belief system.

In this case, the manager needs to understand what this team member needs to feel safe within the organization and how to address collaboration and other team members with more trust.

Trust is hard to build; however, it is possible through transparency, honesty, authenticity, and a touch of vulnerability.
What is your approach to conflicts in your workplace?

Always feel free to take Veza Global Inclusion Self Assessment Quiz to measure where your organization is on the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion maturity model.




Creating A Culture Of Loyalty

Creating A Culture Of Loyalty

Currently, most of our clients are dealing with large numbers of staff turnover as the Great Resignation is upon us.

It is a difficult time to be a leader currently as there is so much that is unknown and new, where old strategies don’t fit into this new world of work we are experiencing. 

This is a great time to remember and find out what keeps your team members loyal to the organization and their roles. 

This simple question can provide great insight as to what is important to them, why they stay, and what else you can do. 

We suggest asking this question during an all-staff meeting, providing different avenues for them to provide their insights from written to verbal to the discussion. 

When was the last time you asked your team members – “What makes you stay?”

Learn about how you can become an inclusive leader. Veza Global offers a range of EDI topics, like inclusive terminology, and anti-racism sample statements. Start your EDI journey toward inclusive leadership with these resources.

What does support for internal EDIB look like?

What does support for internal EDIB look like?

What does support for Internal EDIB Committees look like?

In our experience in working with internal EDIB Committees, we do see the 5 stages of team development:

  1. ​​​​​​​Forming
  2. Storming
  3. Norming
  4. Performing
  5. Adjourning

The team usually requires facilitation at the beginning of the EDIB journey for the organization to balance the priorities of individual passions with the organizational mandate/mission. 

We usually find that the EDIB committee requires the support of senior leadership to tackle any roadblocks and budget issues. It always helps if senior leadership attends the first few meetings to address frustrations, challenges and provide direction.

The individuals on the committee may volunteer their time, and are often from equity-deserving groups. Veza recommends inviting all who want to be on the committee to join for diversity of thought as well as finding ways to compensate them for their time through monetary means, professional development or time off.

The EDIB committee needs opportunities to have discussions with leadership in order to remain in alignment with the organizational strategy.

The committee is meant to support any EDIB staff, whereas the EDIB staff may work with this committee for advice and deliverables as seen fit.

It is important that this committee be grounded in change management and change communication in order to be successful in their endeavours.

All these supports will empower the individuals on the committee to make the impact they strive to make.

 See how we can help you support your EDIB Committee

Vulnerability in Leadership

Leadership has really changed in the last few years. We are expecting leaders to lead with more self awareness of their actions, understand the feelings of their staff while addressing social issues that are impacting their team members, manage a pandemic and business changes. In conversations with the leadership population of our clients through EDIB consulting work or inclusive leadership coaching, we find that these leaders are navigating a new way of being. This new way is one of deeper vulnerability, authenticity and transparency.

These leaders are trying to understand how these feminine leadership traits balance with the masculine leadership traits of targets and bottom line that they grew up with. They are navigating their own traumas while supporting their team members in balancing the pressures of societal issues and the pandemic. 

Many of the leaders have shared that being vulnerable in the workplace has been quite terrifying, as they fear that staff members may lose confidence in their leadership. However, the beautiful occurrence time and time again is when leaders combine authenticity with vulnerability: staff members for the most part welcome the heart-felt engagement. There are a select few who will judge or lose confidence however they usually are not a culture add for the organization so they self-select themselves out. 

As per the Merriam-webster definitions:

Vulnerability is the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.

Authenticity is being true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.  

The beauty of being vulnerable and authentic is people see what they can trust within an individual. They become aware of false personas that are hindering connection. The connection at this level is what supports the creation of inclusive teams and inclusive culture. It is therefore important to become comfortable with one’s own truth, past and bias in order to truly be an inclusive leader. 

Through Veza’s advisory and inclusive leadership coaching, we work with leaders to address these uncomfortable situations with a little more ease and grace. The beauty of discomfort is there is always room for growth.

6 Ways to Reduce Unconscious Bias in the Workplace

6 Ways to Reduce Unconscious Bias in the Workplace

What is Unconscious Bias?

Scenario: Imagine that you used to work at a coffee shop called “Expresso” and had an amazing experience with the company, even though it was a lot of hard work. Now imagine yourself interviewing two candidates for a position of warehouse worker. One of the candidates used to work at Expresso but has no prior warehouse experience and the other has at least 3 years in warehouse experience. Both candidates are very impressive but only one can fill the position. Who will you choose? You might be more inclined to choose the candidate that worked at Expresso just because you share the same experience even though they are less qualified. This is an example of a phenomenon called unconscious bias and we commit it without knowing. All of us have some form of implicit bias and it is perfectly natural. However, if left unregulated it can be destructive to workplace diversity and inclusion.

 TRY: Here is a test you can take from Harvard that is designed to measure strengths of associations you have developed towards social groups.


How Does Unconscious Bias Happen?

The brain is an amazing organ. According to an article by Spectra Diversity, it is constantly working to process billions of information from our environment. However, our attention can only grasp a few stimuli at a time. Therefore, our brain is taking in information in the “background” building connections and associations about our outside world and social groups subconsciously. This is how we are biologically wired to learn and survive and it greatly influences our behaviours, attitudes and decisions.


How Bias Affects Your Workplace

While having implicit bias is a normal human characteristic, it has implications for the workplace that can stunt many of your inclusion and diversity efforts. For example, you might misjudge employee abilities in the hiring and evaluation process keeping you from acquiring the best and most qualified applicants. Workplace bias could also be driving up your costs unnecessarily. Erfan Daliri states that the cost of turnover and rehiring due to workplace bias is up to $64 billion annually. In one report by The Center for Talent Innovation (now called Coqual) bias was associated with more burn out, higher turnover and employee resentment which manifest into conflicts. It was also associated with lower employee retention, engagement and innovation.



Types of Unconscious Bias

Before beginning to manage for implicit bias perhaps the most important and crucial step is to become aware of our own biases. Biases can take many different forms. We’ve listed five that can potentially be in your workplace. For a more comprehensive list check out this article by Lisa O’Donnell at Great Place to Work.

  1. Gender bias: this one is pretty straight forward. It is favouring one gender over another. For example, hiring on the basis of sex for certain positions or the notion that some genders are better for certain positions. This prevents companies from acquiring the best talent based on credentials.
  1. Affinity bias: Showing favouritism for people that are similar to us. We all have the tendency to gravitate to people that are like us. For example, sharing the same language, race, religion, experience or even shared interests. However, to stay innovative it is important to include diverse groups with different experiences and characteristics.
  1. Conformity bias: Our tendency to be influenced with the popular opinion or group majority. Nobody likes feeling rejected or different. Being the social creatures that we are we want to fit in. However, this lack of independent thinking can lower creativity and problem solving in the workplace.
  1. Halo and horn Effect: the tendency for us to generalize a person based on a single trait. In a halo effect, one amazing trait overshadows our overall perception of someone. For example, if someone is an outstanding negotiator then the rest of their skills must also be great. This also happens for negative traits called the horn effect. For example, if someone is not punctual then they must be not hardworking even though it’s not necessarily true.
  1. Confirmation bias: Liz Burton from “High Speed Training” explains that this is our tendency to magnify pieces of information that support our opinions or views and overlook or ignore facts that oppose it. It can mislead us from making the best decisions that are rooted in factual information.


Tips to Minimize Unconscious Workplace Bias

  1. Be more aware of your own bias. You can’t solve what you don’t know. By being more self-aware you can identify hidden biases that exists within your mind and find ways to mitigate it.
  1. Be more aware of the unconscious bias at your workplace. Try to determine areas in the workplace where implicit bias exist or can occur. Whether that be in the hiring process or in the evaluation process and fix it. Every workplace system is susceptible to bias and it is the duty of a good leader to solve it.
  1. Encourage an EDI environment. Nurture an environment where employees can feel open and safe to be different and voice their opinions.
  1. Measure your efforts: Have specific and measurable goals set out for your diversity and inclusion plan. Determine ways you can minimize identified implicit bias at work and measure appropriately. To help you get started read our article on metrics for EDI.
  1. Training for Diversity and Inclusivity. Having regular training for EDI not only educates staff but may also help with reinforcement. We offer a 4-Module program designed to help you gain the knowledge and leadership skills to apply at your workplace. Learn more about our EDI course
  1. Diverse leadership. Diversity happens at all levels. Don’t rely on lower-level management to implement diversity efforts, because it matters just as much at the upper level. Management are the ones responsible for making equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) based decisions. Learn how to be an inclusive leader today and contact us for a consultation.

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“Brain Stuff: The Neuroscience Behind Implicit Bias.” SpectraDiversity , December 27, 2017. https://www.spectradiversity.com/2017/12/27/unconscious-bias 

Burton, Liz. “What Is Unconscious Bias in Recruitment?” The Hub | High Speed Training. High Speed Training, December 18, 2017. https://www.highspeedtraining.co.uk/hub/types-of-unconscious-bias/#confirmation 

Chisolm-Noel, Anadri. “Recession Fears: Is Your Business Ready?” IMPACT Group. Accessed November 12, 2021. https://www.impactgrouphr.com/insights/recession-fears-is-your-business-ready 

Daliri, Erfan. “The Cost of Unconscious Bias.” Web log. Erfan Daliri Social Change Consultant (blog). Erfan Daliri, June 14, 2021. https://www.erfandaliri.com/blog/unconsciousbias 

O’Donnell, Lauren. “Understanding Unconscious Bias.” Great Place to Work, July 1, 2020. https://www.greatplacetowork.ca/fr/resources/understanding-unconscious-bias 

Responding to Microaggressions and Racism

Responding to Microaggressions and Racism

Responding to microaggressions and racism can be very difficult. Whether you are a person experiencing or witnessing microaggressions or racism,  the definitions and suggestions below can support you in determining the best course of action. It is important to note that racism is embedded in our systems and structures. The information below does not address systemic or structural racism, but rather focuses on interpersonal racism. Systemic and structural racism is addressed through addressing processes, procedures, policies and personal biases. 

Microaggression: According to Dr. Derald Wing Sue, “microaggressions are the everyday slights, indignities, putdowns, and invalidations” that members of equity-deserving groups experience on a daily basis. Oftentimes, they occur in “interactions with well-intentioned, well-meaning people who are unaware they have delivered a putdown or invalidation.”  Microaggressions can have long-term physical and psychological impacts.

Racism: Dr. Ibram X. Kendi defines racism as a “marriage of racism policies and racist ideas that produces and normalizes racial inequities.” Racist policies can be “written and unwritten laws, rules, procedures, processes, regulations, and guidelines that govern people” and “produce and sustain racial inequity between racial groups.” Furthermore, “a racist idea is any idea that suggests one racial group is inferior or superior to another racial group.”


Steps to consider when responding to microaggressions and racism: 

1. Clarify:
Sometimes, it may be difficult to determine if what you have experienced or witnessed is a form of microaggression and racism. If there are other people around, asking them if they also heard the same comment, for example, can be a form of validation. Reaching out to loved ones for support can also be helpful if there are no witnesses. 

2. Assess for risk and safety:
When you have experienced or witnessed microaggressions or a form of racism it is also important to assess the risk of your response or not responding.

3. Considerations before responding:
If you have decided to respond, there are many potential ways of addressing the behaviour.  Some important factors to consider include:

    • Timing: Do you want to respond as it is occurring or immediately after? Do you want to wait and respond after some time has passed?
    • Potential Impact: Do you want the perpetrator to be aware that their behaviour is a form of microaggression or racism? Do you want your response to be an educational opportunity for everyone who is witnessing the behaviour? Do you want the perpetrator to be held accountable for their behaviour? Do you want an opportunity to express how you are feeling? Do you want to feel validated? Do you want to feel support/be supported?

4. Respond:
In “ A guide to responding to microaggressions,” Dr. Kevin L. Nadal highlights that there are main ways of responding. 

    • Passive-Aggressive: This can include using jokes, humour and sarcasm as a way of indirectly highlighting the behaviour. However, it is important to note that this type of response may lead to further escalation. 
    • Proactive: Nadal explains that victims may sometimes feel frustrated and angry and respond actively, such as by yelling back, which “may be a therapeutic way of releasing years of accumulated anger and frustration.”. Similar to a passive-aggressive response, this type of response may lead to further escalation. 
    • Assertive:  This can include responding through sharing how the behaviour has impacted you and educating the perpetrator (and witnesses) how the behaviour is hurtful. Nadal highlights that by focusing on the action/ behaviour rather than the individual, you can create space for dialogue and learning

5. Document:
In many cases, particularly in situations where racism is taking place, it may be helpful to document and record microaggressions and racism. Having some form of record can help in holding the perpetrator accountable for their actions. If you are the witness, it is important to get the permission of the person who is experiencing the microaggression or racism before recording and/or sharing the recording.  

6. Support:
Microaggressions and racism can have long term impacts on our health. If you are experiencing microaggressions and racism, it is important to seek support. This can include speaking with family, friends and loved ones, speaking with mental health professionals, reporting the behaviour (e.g. speaking with HR), sharing common experiences with others, and practicing other forms of self-care. If you have witnessed microaggressions or racism, if possible, follow up with the victim to ensure they have access to support.  Organizations can also ensure that they have clear and accessible reporting and accountability measures in place so that people are aware that they can report microaggressions and racism when they occur in the workplace. Additionally, organizations can ensure that employees have access to different forms of support, such as access to mental health programs through their benefits.  


Veza Global is always here to help. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or need further guidance. You can also take a look through our Resources page and go through the information listed on how to become an inclusive community member


1 – Derald Wing Sue, “Mini Moments with Big Thinkers,” Teachers College Columbia University, May 13, 2013.  https://www.tc.columbia.edu/bigthinkers/segments/derald-wing-sue/
2 – Ibid.
3 –  Ibram X. Kendi, “Extracts: Ibram X. Kendi defines what it means to be an antiracist,” Penguin Books Limited, June 09, 2020. https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/2020/june/ibram-x-kendi-definition-of-antiracist.html
4 – Ibid.
5 – Ibid.
6 – Kevin L. Nadal, “A guide to responding to Microaggression,” CUNY FORUM 2:1 (2014) 71-76, https://ncwwi.org/index.php/resourcemenu/resource-library/inclusivity-racial-equity/cultural-responsiveness/1532-a-guide-to-responding-to-microaggressions/file 
7 – Ibid.