As a young engineer, I was part of a team that included many senior engineers and managers. After a few meetings, my manager took me aside and encouraged me to offer my opinions and thoughts. He told me: “We want to make sure all opinions and ideas are on the table.” I then realized that although I knew I belonged, his words helped me know, even more importantly, that I mattered. We all matter – whatever our geographic, social, economic, ideological or personal background.
Inclusivity does not necessarily mean 100 per cent agreement with others’ perspectives; rather, it means respect for and consideration of those other perspectives. There is a caveat though: all perspectives must be given and considered with care and respect. Perhaps care and respect are what equity, diversity and inclusion are all about.
There have been many times through my career and personal life where I have changed my view and critical decisions based on carefully considering the diverse perspectives I have been offered.
And sadly, I also have examples of not considering the input of others – to my detriment. I believe many of the societal divisions today are rooted in the lack of an equity, diversity and inclusion mindset.
Closed-minded perspectives block the opportunity to create a more harmonious, caring and respectful society.
As educators, we have a powerful opportunity and obligation to further open the minds of those who entrust us with their development and growth. They can move on from Lethbridge College with the perspective of caring and respect to enable a more inclusive and compassionate community.
We have the responsibility to create a caring and respectful environment here, where everyone is included and valued, and where we work every day – like that senior manager did at the beginning of my career – to help others remember that we all belong, and we all matter.