Finding Our Voices: Challenging Western Ways of Knowing as We Co-create Inclusive Communities

Grace Wong Sneddon
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"Changing the culture of an organization" is a cliché that is difficult to deliver in the simplest of corporate settings. The Task Group on Cultural Capacity recognized that its mandate to change the culture of diversity in a university community would be a challenge. Our goal was clear but ambitious: to transform the university into an inclusive community with a deep appreciation of the changing cultural nature of the world and an unwavering commitment to meet the needs of all of its members.
This paper will examine the process of a task group as it struggled to achieve its commitment to diversity in the University's strategic plan of becoming an inclusive community. The struggle lay with the fact that each member felt committed to creating genuine change in the hearts and minds of the University community. At the same time, we were inadvertently absorbed in a western approach that had the baggage of many previous failures and the processes of tokenism. Even its most promising language with terms like catalyst, transformation, strategic and ‘domino effect' had the ring of a top-down, corporate model.
With the understanding and support of the University the struggle was allowed to continue, organically, beyond a corporate conception of timelines and deliverables. Slowly, our process began to unfold. In the search to bring order to what we ‘knew,' the task group sensed a need to shift from the western concept of ‘managing' diversity to providing a forum where a multiplicity of voices can be heard. We want to create opportunities to express these ideas with multiple understandings and variable intersectionalities. Although the process was nebulous its results are not.
The presentation will highlight some of the landmarks of our ongoing journey and will try to provide an opportunity to share experiences and models among the participants.

Keywords: Cultural Capacity, Intersectionality, Strategic Planning, Inclusive Community, Multiplicity of Voices, Colonialism
Stream: Organisations
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
Paper: Finding Our Voices

Grace Wong Sneddon

Acting Director, Equity, Equity and Human Rights Office, University of Victoria

Ref: D05P0338