Creating an inclusive culture

Megan Catalano
Graphic facilitation during the Dialogue on Diversity event

Universities are in the position to help create an inclusive culture by embracing the uniqueness of students and shaping how they learn and how to think diversely. 

As part of its 75 Years of Changing Lives celebrations, Royal Roads University hosted its inaugural Dialogue on Diversity event on Sept. 23 with a focus on LGBTQQ and two-spirit community.

The half-day event was sponsored by the Allan Cahoon Global Advancement and Diversity Fund and explored organizational challenges faced by members of the LGBTQQ and two-spirit community.

Coordinated by the Royal Roads Diversity Action Group which is a committee of volunteer faculty and staff from across campus, the event was open to all staff, faculty, students and alumni to participate and add their voices to the conversation to help Royal Roads move forward as a diverse and inclusive community. The interactive event included guest speakers and video and audio submissions used to facilitate meaningful conversations.

The day began with an Indigenous traditional welcome from William White, an Elder from Snuneymuxw and Cowichan ancestral ties who also closed the day in a traditional and respectful way weaving in his own stories. Royal Roads alumnus Kevin Bernard (Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Master of Science in Environment and Management) was the master of ceremonies for the event.

Royal Roads’ Diversity Action Group co-chairs Kyla McLeod and Asma-na-hi Antoine coordinated the event and felt that the day exceeded their expectations which created a strong foundation for future dialogues on diversity for the campus community.

Dialogue on Diversity guest speaker and RRU alumna Jackie Scales is the senior manager, human capital, consulting at Deloitte in Toronto and leading its diversity and inclusion practice across Canada. Through her role, she works with organizations to build a diverse employee base that leverages the benefits of inclusive leadership with their overall talent management infrastructure.

“Diversity is what makes us unique and what makes us valuable” says Scales. “And inclusion is an active process of change.”

Scales spoke about inclusive leadership and how universities and employers must empower people to share their perspectives. She also spoke about the high percentage of employees in the current workforce who cover parts of their identity from their colleagues and how employers need to encourage individuals to truly be themselves.

Scales earned her Master of Business Administration in Executive Management with specialization in leadership from Royal Roads in 2010 and received the Alumni Excellence Award in spring 2013.

Royal Roads Doctor of Social Sciences student Robert Savage-Beringer also spoke at the event. Through his company Vibrant Living and Lifestyle Systems Inc., Savage-Beringer consults with seniors’ organizations on healthy aging. His doctoral research will be focused on LGBTQ aging in rural and small town communities.

“We need to recognize that everybody has a voice and everybody needs to be heard,” says Savage-Beringer.

The speeches and discussion at the Dialogue on Diversity event were also captured in a time-lapse video.