Michael Bach on Diversity and Inclusion

Michael Bach, CEO of the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, joined us last week for an in-depth and wide-ranging conversation on how, as leaders, we can move beyond words and intentions to create true and lasting change in our companies and communities. This was such a rich discussion that an hour simply wasn’t long enough. We need Michael back for an encore. Here are my top 3 takeaways:

1) You’re Going to Screw It Up

Becoming a better ally or anti-racist means that we’re all going to have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and face the harsh reality that there are times when we’re going to screw it up. The key is not to retreat back into the comfort of our privilege (whatever that looks like for you). Instead, dust yourself off, pick yourself up and keep leaning in. Michael reminded our attendees that nobody is perfect and we can’t let fear of making a misstep prevent us for speaking up and pushing to effect change. No one has all the answers.

2) It’s Not About You

Have you wondered why it’s important to add gender pronouns to your email signatures, online profiles and other prominent places, when you see yourself as “clearly” male or female? Here’s why: when you take this action, you are creating space for individuals who don’t associate as a “she” or a “him” to not have to be singled out for their gender orientation. Creating inclusive work cultures requires that those of us in the privileged seats proactively, consciously and intentionally invite others in by normalizing all forms of diversity whether that’s diversity of gender, sexual orientation, race, ability or more. Sharing your gender pronouns as a she/her or he/him isn’t about you. It’s about everyone else who doesn’t tick those limiting boxes.

3) Build Your Business Case

The grim reality of business is that it’s, well, business. If you’re frustrated by the lack of traction your company is making around diversity, equity and inclusion activities, it’s time to “show ‘em the money.” Clearly explain why DE&I matters; assess it; measure it and create a clear strategy that shows bottom-line impact. Consider leveraging an external agency vs trying to do it yourself and watch out for ‘quick fix’ strategies. A 90-minute lunch-and-learn on biases is probably not going to get you the sustainable changes you need to make or deliver results. Make wise, strategic investments.

This was very hard to sum up in three takeaways. Thanks to everyone who attended and brought such great questions. You can find the entire recording here filled with simple concrete suggestions that you can put into action. And be sure to learn more about the work of the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion and pick up a copy of Michael’s book Birds of All Feathers. It is a great primer for doing diversity and inclusion right.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can support our Indigenous communities in Canada in light of the Kamloops BC Residential School disgrace, check out the conversation I had earlier this year with Bob Joseph, author of 21 things you may not know about the Indian Act.

Next month, I’ll be joined by Roundtable grad and entrepreneurial success story Neetu Godara, Co-Founder of Social Lite. We’re going to be unpacking what leaders can learn from entrepreneurs and what life is like when you make the career leap from a Fortune 100 to the kitchen table. Register here.

You can find recordings of all our previous sessions on our YouTube Channel, our Roundtable Academy site and here, on our blog.

And, if you’re interested in joining a community of leaders committed to connecting to their purpose and making a bigger impact, check out our signature program – The Roundtable for Leaders. We have two groups launching in the Fall and Winter of 2021/22. You can apply here.

Happy leading!


PS – Don’t forgot to grab a copy of my new book The Grassroots Leadership Revolution to get tips on managing your career and building a network of support