By Kendra MacDonald, CEO, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster | Forbes | August 17, 2021
Growing up, my father was diagnosed with lupus. Without going into all the details, he had trouble walking around the block and was exhausted after a day’s work. Before he passed away, he spent his final years in a wheelchair. He could no longer work, and I watched him struggle to access care and transportation.
Despite having spent years as a child watching my dad struggle, it is as a mother, watching my daughter struggle in a different way, that I have started to really understand how hard that struggle can be. My daughter is adopted from Kazakhstan, and she has a cleft lip and palate. The first time she was called “flat nose,” she was five years old. I never imagined we would be having a conversation about bullying that soon. Children were scared of her cleft lip and were challenged to understand her, making it harder for her to fit in.
Accessible workplaces have come a long way since my dad struggled to get to his desk every morning. As I think about the world I hope my daughter will experience when she enters the workforce in another decade or so, we still have much work to do to truly embrace differences and ensure we can all bring our whole selves to work.
Our organization was recently involved in publishing a report on equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) in Canada’s ocean sector. As I reflect on the findings of this report, I wanted to share three lessons I have learned on the journey toward greater ED&I:
Don’t assume you know others’ experiences.
If you haven’t experienced discrimination directly, it can be incredibly hard to understand the struggles faced by people who have been discriminated against for who they are. While I have experienced some gender bias throughout my career, it is not the same as what many others experience daily.