Advertisements
Advertisements

Tutoring with Cambly: A fun way to increase your cultural competency


Evelina Silveira

It happened one night when I was fully awake, lying in bed and thinking of a fun job I could do at home.  I wanted it to be something that would complement the work I do in my business.  Generally, when I decided to take on part-time or temporary work, I do it to enhance my skills and knowledge for my training business, Diversity at Work.

I “Googled”  teaching English online without an  ESL certificate and came across, Cambly.  I had looked at other sites before and read their reviews, but I was not interested in having a job that would take a lot of preparation or had a pre-determined schedule.  I needed flexibility to  work on my business.

I completed the quick application form and sent them a video. Within about 10 days I was working.

Cambly is an app which helps English as a Second Language Speakers to practice their conversation skills and learn grammar with tutors from around the world. They choose the number of minutes they want to speak each week and the tutor(s) they want to work with.

Most of the students are from Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Japan, China and Taiwan.  The app is picking up popularity and users from other countries are emerging now as well.  Because I specialize in business English with intermediate and advanced speakers, my students tend to be professionals.  When you complete your profile with Cambly you can specify your areas of interest.  Do you want to work with beginners? Advanced speakers?  Do you want to teach listening skills? Grammar? Students will read your profile and determine whether you are the right fight for them.  If you are, they will click on your profile when you are online and choose you for a lesson.

I was a little nervous on my first call as I had not really figured out the app that well, by this time.  I still remember the first call. It was a man sitting on a carpet wearing traditional Gulf-style clothing; the white long chemise and pants along with the red scarf draping his head.  He was sipping coffee that his servants had brought him.

Since then, I have had over 1000 chats. I have met professors, doctors, tons of IT professionals, teachers, students and retirees. Sometimes, students are calling me from their cars, they are walking, in the middle of a family gathering; or they might be drunk getting out of a bar on a Saturday night!  I laugh all of the time with my students. For nervous students, this helps them relax and they re-book with me because I make learning fun.

At first, I thought I would just do a few hours a week in the evening or on the weekend.  But, before I knew it, the time I had used to  devote to unwinding with surfing social media or watching re-runs of  Grey’s Anatomy was now being taken over by working for Cambly.  Why?  Because it is enjoyable and I have extremely intelligent students who I enjoy interacting. My thirst for learning about other cultures, engaging in political/social  discussions combined with my fascination with linguistics, made this the JOB FOR ME!

You see, most of the time it doesn’t feel like work at all.

Is Cambly for you?

· You need to be a native English speaker.

· You must like to talk and meet people.

· You need to be able to make conversation with people of all different language levels.  (They do offer you conversation starters, if you are stuck).

· You must be happy and smiling in all of your interactions with students. Remember, many students are nervous about speaking. They have learned grammar in school but have not had a chance to practice.  A smiling facing and gentle encouragement contributes to them opening up with you.

· A  computer with a high-speed internet connection, camera and microphone are essential.

· You must be punctual for the sessions you sign up. Repeated tardiness could mean you will be penalized for a few days unable to access more teaching opportunities.

. A neat appearance and clean background free from distractions.

· Remember, you are teaching students English.  If your speaking skills are on the sloppy side or your grammar is not the best, this might not be the best job for you.

What I have learned:

· How English is now spoken all across the world and is the dominant language of business.  EVERYONE is learning English.  I have had anyone from a doctor to a clerk at Dunkin’ Donuts use Cambly.

· Having English speaking skills is considered an global asset competing for jobs.

· Multinational companies have opened up EVERYWHERE and locals are often expected to learn English to speak with counterparts in other countries.

· How the quality of public education varies from country to country.  For example, in Saudi Arabia all education is free but the public education in Brazil is considered inferior.

· In the Gulf States, labour and trades are done mostly by migrants from Asia and Africa.  Wages are determined by nationality.  Working with your hands in these countries is considered work for people of lower status.

· Students have unreal expectations when it comes to Canada.

· Most people do not know much about Canada and what they are unaware of our recent political problems.

· Students who consider immigrating usually want to go to Germany, England, Australia, United States or Canada.

· How difficult it is to learn English because it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

· The role of a tutor/teacher is highly valued in other cultures.  Students will often refer to me as “Teacher” or “My Teacher”.  Their appreciation for the new grammar, vocabulary or sound I have helped them make is extremely rewarding.

· I have improved my listening skills.

· I have increased my knowledge of linguistic features of many languages.

· I can decipher the messages communicated by a speaker of any language

· About human rights in different countries; how some disenfranchised groups are struggling to be recognized while other countries care very little about them.

· How countries around the world are struggling with fake news, political corruption, censorship of the media and seemingly unaware of what is often happening in their own countries.

The downside:

· The pay is not the best.  If you are relying on it for main source of income, that will be challenging. You get paid by the number of minutes you speak.  If you are doing it for the same reasons I am, the pay is a bonus.  I would likely do this even if I wasn’t getting paid.

· Sometimes, the platform doesn’t work or there can be a lot of technical difficulties based on poor internet connections in other countries.

· The students taking the free trial can be impolite.  There may be a lot of hangups, or they might stare at you like you’re an oddity.  In three cases I have had to hang up and report students on a trial because they were exhibitionists or crude. But, this doesn’t happen too often.  Three vulgar calls in 1000 is not so bad.

· You may be penalized if you have to cancel the schedule you have signed up for if you do so with less than 12 hours notice.

All, in all, I think Cambly is a fabulous app for people wanting to practice their English conversation skills but also a fine casual or part-time job for those who want to work a few extra hours.

If you want to learn more about Cambly

You can tell them that I referred you and use my code:  https://www.cambly.com/en/tutors?referralCode=eva533

 

Advertisements

Do You Watch ‘The Office’? My Workshop Gets At The Toughest Communication Grime! (‘Manager Michael Scott’ Needs To Attend!)


the office

 

I loved The Office. I still watch it in re-runs. It lets me laugh about situations I’ve seen again and again in actual workplaces. It’s not funny in real-life; but it’s hilarious in ‘pretend’!

IN REAL LIFE, I wasn’t laughing when I dealt with:

  • A manager wrongly accused of racism by an under-performer
  • An employee who unintentionally offended a client
  • An outreach worker who wanted to disclose community trends to alleviate a social problem but couldn’t without being falsely labelled herself

Why do these issues arise? Because ‘Awareness Training’ is not enough.

A healthy, safe, fearless workplace requires AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP. If you are an AUTHENTIC LEADER – or want to become one – then this workshop is for you.

What is an authentic leader? You’re confident, self-aware, and free to be yourself both publicly and privately. You see employees getting mired in political correctness, and the workplace climate being poisoned. You want to do something about it!

COMMUNICATION SKILLS FOR DIVERSE WORKPLACES: My original, 6-HOUR, interactive workshop delivers tools that authentic leaders need to create and support openness and dialogue in the workplace.

In The Office ‘Dunder Mifflin Paper Products’ office and warehouse, people said the wrong things and lived in fear. They walked on eggshells. But they lacked the leadership to behave and communicate more successfully. In one episode, a diversity exercise became a circus of cultural stereotyping! It was funny because it resonates with everyone. Real-life offices face the same issues, but it’s never funny.

As a real-world manager, you experience:

  • Real conversation stifled because of fear of offense or ‘triggering’
  • An increase in bullying and harassment complaints/investigations

PARTICIPANTS IN MY MOST RECENT WORKSHOP (Kitchener-Waterloo YMCA) loved the workshop. In anonymous feedback, participants praised it:

 “I’m more inclined to engage in an uncomfortable dialogue than before this workshop.”

 “I received tools to work through difficult diversity dialogues.”

“Evelina created an atmosphere of openness and allowed uncomfortable conversations.”

“My favorite part was the variety of exercises and sessions.”

“This Communication Skills workshop was well-organized, on-time, and engaging.”

“I really appreciated the openness of Evelina!”

“This workshop was excellent: All the topics related to bias.”

“My favorite parts were the conversations and discussions.”

“I liked how the views and suggestions really support healthy dialogues.”

“I liked group discussions, thought-provoking conversations, and real-life examples.”

Workplaces today are quick to embrace diversity, but good intentions lead to conflict and toxicity. Sondra Thiederman calls this ‘Guerrilla Bias.’ In a workplace that picks up buzzwords, employees learn to identify as victims who are unable to cope with alternate views. No workplace can function and operate properly or effectively in this type of climate.

Authentic Leaders teach Authentic Communication

My workshop equips leaders with the skills necessary for authentic and challenging dialogues. Once in place, differences can be leveraged correctly. Differences become actual benefits, instead of becoming sticks to beat colleagues.

No manager wants their workplace evolving into a real-life version of The Office!

Risk-averse leaders cement a culture of silence. Silence leads to resentment and toxicity, which negates the potential benefits of a diverse workforce! In the wrong environment, diversity becomes a liability instead of an asset.

It doesn’t have to be this way. This is where I come in.

I understand. I hate workplace conflict. Increased calls to my anti-bullying service means workplaces are heating up because workers have stopped talking – they are afraid.

Do you blame them? I don’t.

More and more laws pop up telling us what we can and can’t say. A glance at the media shows how one wrong step, word, or tweet leads to a full-scale social-media attack and demonization.

Again: It doesn’t have to be this way. I can help.

If you want to be an authentic leader, I created my workshop for you and your organization. You’ll learn to be THE LEADER willing to take risks for the greater good of the organization, and to be a POSITIVE-COMMUNICATION MODEL for your team.

The Nitty-Gritty of COMMUNICATION SKILLS FOR DIVERSE WORKPLACES:

  • A highly interactive, 6-hour workshop of my researched, original content
  • Self-reflection exercises for participants
  • Teamwork in small and large groups

But this workshop isn’t for everyone. Why? Because I challenge my participants! You won’t always feel comfortable, but discomfort is where awareness and learning begin.

YOU’LL LEARN:

  • Types of bias, and how personal bias shows up in the workplace
  • Best responses to comments/behaviours you believe are offensive
  • Approaches for justifiable accusations of bias or problematic behaviour
  • How to listen and genuinely understand someone

You’ll emerge with tools and strategies to have AUTHENTIC DIALOGUES, which are the lifeblood of constructive workplace relationships.

 Want to learn more? Interested in creating a GENUINELY authentic, diverse, and inclusive workplace? If you feel you’re an authentic leader, or that you want to learn how to become one, then this workshop is for YOU.

 Contact me to deliver this important workshop to you and your group.

Contact Evelina for more details at: 519-659-4777 evelina@yourdiversityatwork.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LIVE WEBINAR: Serving Customers Who Have Language Barriers Over the Telephone


Customer Service People Wearing Telephone Headset

Customer Service People Wearing Telephone Headset ca. 2002

 

August 27, 2018  10:00 am -11:30 am EST  Canada

Encountering a language barrier in person is challenging enough, but what happens when you are required to sell a product or gather information from a caller in a crisis who has little in the way of English fluency?

Without any visual clues for both the caller and the call-taker, the situation can seem insurmountable; but it doesn’t have to be.

You can learn practical skills which will increase your confidence in responding to callers who experience these barriers but also assist them to navigate through the call more successfully.

What we’ll cover in this event…

How to Speak and What to Say Learn strategies for speaking clearly and choosing the most easily understood words. Receive tips for spelling letters and reading numbers over the phone.

Is it a Language Barrier or a Strong Accent?  Learn how you determine the difference and how you should respond. A guide for understanding various distorted pronunciation patterns.

How Can You Calm a distressed caller?  Three simple words which make a world of difference to callers who may be in crisis or anxious.

A three-hour workshop has been rolled out to several police services in Canada, non-profits and several other organizations.

We have condensed the content into a live webinar format which will run for approximately 1.5 hours. A replay within 24 hours is available along with handouts.

Job aids can be purchased separately to augment your learning.

A 9-1-1 Call Taker Simple Language Guide has been specifically designed with input from three police services. Contact us for more details.

 

info@yourdiversityawork.com.

For more information and to register, please click on the following link. https://events.genndi.com/register/169105139238467417/15863ce143

 

 

 

Meetings: A Tool Kit – New Immigrant Workplace Success Series


Evelina Silveira, President, Diversity at Work, London, Canada

meetingpromo

I am pleased to announce the release of my first tool in a series of resources to assist employers develop and retain new immigrant employees.  The  step=by-step exercises and processes will enhance your own coaching skills while empowering employees with vital information in a culturally relevant way.  I am sharing some of my coaching secrets and style which has resulted in many new immigrants enhancing their skills and employers retaining talent.

You can preview the toolkit below.  It is 31 pages in length and offers a 20-minute consultation with each purchase.  Buy it today and, begin having more productive meetings by developing your own and your employee’s  skills.  Feedback has been excellent!

Includes several handouts such as business idioms; checklist for inclusive meetings; coaching pre-assessments, low-risk no-stress ways to participate in meetings and more.

https://diversityatworkinlondon.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/meetingspage1.pdf

https://diversityatworkinlondon.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/secondpage.pdf

Meetings: A Toolkit Ebook

A 31-page toolkit which includes a 20 minute telephone consultation for each book sold.

C$225.00

Diversity: Can we laugh, please?


smile-1491429_640

Evelina Silveira, President, Diversity at Work  http://www.yourdiversityatwork.com

If I believe my Twitter feed, I would say that the whole world is against people of my demographic. Diversity has become so serious, scary and divisive that we have forgotten how remarkably funny it can be if we do not think the world is out to offend us.

I want to share with you a few of my experiences because it is time we start seeing some of the humour of diversity misinterpretation and assumptions.

Several years ago, I received a call from a Caribbean man who was asking me if I would be interested in emceeing a black awards night.  I gladly accepted, impressed this was quite an open-minded group to invite me to facilitate the evening.  I wrote down the details, and just before I was about to hang up the phone, I had this strange hunch that came over me. Did I think maybe he did not want me – a white person?  I asked him directly: ” Michael, are you aware that I am not black?”  There was silence for a moment.  Then with an uncomfortable laugh, he responded “No.” I said, “I thought, so.” Does that make a difference now that you know that I am white?  After a momentary pause, he remarked: well, uh, yeah”. He was dumbfounded!  How was he going to tell me that he thought I was black and that is why he called me? Digging his heels, he told me that he thought I had a “black name” and that is why he called me.  I told him that I did not know what he was talking about:  a black name? Did I look black in my picture?  Trying to wheel himself out from the mess, he tried again and said:  “Well, I guess your name is Hispanic sounding!”  I told him: “Listen, I will make this easy for you.  You do not want me to emcee your event because I am white and by the way, I am not Hispanic –but close enough—Portuguese.  I wish you good luck trying to find someone!”

A former co-worker of mine who came out of the closet at work dealt with the homophobic men in the office in a unique way.  When he went into the men’s washroom, he would belt out the lyrics to “Dancing Queen”!

Acting as a cultural mentor for a Chinese new immigrant, I remarked about Canadian informality and pleaded with him to not call me Mrs. Silveira. I explained to him all of the instances when it is appropriate to use titles.  Running into him one day, I asked about his weekend. He said it was not so good and that he had to take his daughter to the hospital.  He noted how impressed he was with the care in a Canadian hospital.  With a mesmerized look on his face, he indicated he had put into action what I had taught him about informal salutations while he was in the hospital.  As he was leaving, he took a look at the doctor’s name tag which read:  “Sandy Brown.” In a great gesture of appreciation, exiting he said: “Thank you, Sandy.” To his dismay and surprise, she replied:  “Dr. Brown”!  I apologized to my dear friend for a significant omission – doctors and titles! Ouch!

All of these new genders are confusing me. I am not sure that I like the images that come to my mind like when I hear the word “gender fluid”. When I hear that expression, it makes me think that you have to go to the pharmacy to buy something to take care of it – maybe in the special paper products section in the store.  May I suggest “gender elasticity” or “gender flexibility” instead?

I have many stories about encounters in Asian food markets. Frequently, the employees that I come across don’t speak English, and therefore there is much room for misinterpretation.  Excited about embarking on a Vietnamese culinary adventure, I headed to the store looking for the best sauce to complement the spring rolls I was planning to make.  I saw a Chinese man who was stocking the shelves and asked him if he could recommend a good sauce for my spring rolls. I said I wanted him to show me the sauce he used. Clearly, he did not understand what I had said.  Before you knew it, we were standing in front of the Heinz ketchup.  I surmised that he likely thought this was the only kind of sauce white people use!

Whether it was one too many coffees or not enough sleep the night before, I had a twitch in my right eye during a workshop I was facilitating. It was distracting and it seemed like I could not control it. Moreover, for whatever reason, each time I looked in the direction of one of the female participants, my twitch became a wink.  Low and behold, after the training session, I went up to speak to some participants that were in her area. She immediately distanced herself and appeared uncomfortable.  The moral of the story: just because someone has a twitch does not mean he or she are flirting with you!

While running a Latin American seniors’ drop-in many years ago, the participants would cheerfully greet me with: ” Como estas, Evelina?”  (How are you, Evelina)  Reciprocally, I would reply “ Yo estoy buena, gracias.” I did this for months, thinking that I was saying:  “I am good, thank you.” A few of the older women would consistently give me strange grimaces.  One day we had two new participants from Colombia attend who decided to test me again and ask me how I was.  I gave them the same response, only this time they started laughing!   I realized that the “good” wholesome feeling I was trying to express, had, in fact, some other less innocent connotation!

After finishing my presentation about living with ADHD, I had a blind man come up to me and say:  “Wow!  I really feel sorry for you, it must be difficult bouncing off the walls all the time!”  I laughed and corrected him that I don’t bounce off walls too often but appreciated his empathy–even though I felt he was the one with the challenges!

It is time to bring the joy and laughter that diversity can bring! Feel free to share your funny incidents below.

 

O Canada! My Home and Messed Up Land


Written by:  Evelina Silveira, President, Diversity at Work

I am having trouble recognizing my birthplace and the country to which my family decided to immigrate. Canada, a fractured massive mess embroiled in identity politics and devoid of logic and forecast.

We call people bigots for wanting to preserve Canadian values. Why? Canadian values, for the most part, have kept this country lawful and peaceful.  Do people immigrate to Canada for Chinese or Saudi Arabian values?  No!  They come because Canada is a safe homeland for all. Well, even that is debatable.  Especially, if you are an Indigenous youth or woman.

Many immigrants and former refugees I have spoken to feel the same way.  Some are even thinking of moving back to their country of origin because they no longer like what they see. Freeing communist Poland as a refugee, my husband, for instance, feels the growing loss of freedoms is becoming strikingly similar to what he left behind.

Here are ten  Canadian diversity issues which have left me wondering:  What kind of country am I living? (They are not in any particular order)

1.  A terrorist still gets to keep their citizenship because our Prime Minister says that:  ” a Canadian citizen is always a citizen”.

2. The Canadian government is going to spend millions of dollars to celebrate Canada’s 150 years of colonizing Indigenous People.  I honestly would rather them skimp on the celebrations and provide Indigenous People with clean water and mold-free schools and decent housing.  I am surprised no one thought of that.

3. Violent protests are erupting at universities and other locations conservative speakers have been booked. A diversity of opinion is not considered a strength.

4. Christian bashing has become normalized even though this is the faith of over 50% of Canadians. Check out this highly offensive article poking fun at the holiest day of the Christian liturgical calendar.  https://www.thebeaverton.com/2017/04/christ-sees-shadow-predicts-6-weeks-easter/

5. Canadian Black Lives  Matter leader Yusra Khogali declares white people to be “sub-human”  and tweets to Allah to stop her from killing them. Surprisingly,  Khogali, is celebrated and asked to speak at anti-racism conferences? As much as Trudeau, is not my guy, Khogali is way off-base when she calls him a white-supremacist.  The BLM Canada movement will lose its credibility if it takes this hateful approach and tries to hijack the Toronto Pride Parade and cause division between the police and Pride.  Pride is supposed to be a fun time to celebrate the rights and freedoms of the LGBT community no matter your skin colour!

6. The  Ontario NDP government wants to support a Boycott Divest and Sanction Israel policy. Why?  Does anyone know why there is an armed checkpoint to get to the Israeli side?  It is because  Palestinian’s were bringing bombs over and then Israelis became maimed or died.  Since the checkpoints are in place, they have been able to prevent deaths this way.  Even if you are anti-Jewish, answer this question:  Is it a government’s prerogative to ensure the safety and protection of its citizens?  The answer is Yes!  So before you, BDS followers bash Israel, ask yourself if you would want the government to do what it could from stopping your friends and family from getting hurt. This is the same country which takes wounded Syrians into their hospitals regardless of their faith or ethnicity.  Get informed before you make these decisions.  The only reason why the NDP conjures up maniacal ideas like this one is so that they can capitalize on the political correctness of antisemitism thus broadening their voter demographics.  Why doesn’t  the NDP take this stand with Saudi Arabia?

7. The fact that our Ontario Sex Education program had input from a convicted pedophile, Ben Levin, speaks volumes. https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/child-sex-offender-ben-levin-said-himself-that-he-was-in-charge-of-crafting    Concerns raised about how the curriculum groomed young children for sex is now coming to light. If you have ever talked to kids who have gone through this sex education program, they will tell you that it has only made them more confused about their sexuality.  One ten-year-old girl once disclosed to me that she must be “asexual” because she was not interested in having a relationship with a boy or a girl.  A 10-year old girl!

8. New Age Feminism has taken a dangerous tone.  Our Prime Minister does not condemn barbaric practices against women and girls nor the lack of rights of women in Saudi Arabia and others.  Our new  Minister of the Status of Women, Maryam Monsef has indicated that she is interested in sharia law and she does not see aborting female babies as gender-based violence.  Honestly?  Deciding to end a pregnancy because the sex of the baby is the grossest act of violence against girls. Is Monsef an actual advocate of women and girls?

Our so-called feminist Prime Minister, Trudeau also uses women in parliament to avoid responding during Question Period.  Instead, he defers to the House Leader Bardish Chagger to address Progressive Conservative, Michelle Rempel’s   questions. It is a painful, humiliating scene to watch for those of us who are sincerely concerned about women’s rights.  Not only is it a woman who is made to do Trudeau’s dirty work but a woman of colour –which makes it doubly-abusive: a prime example of Trudeau’s disrespect for women and his arrogance.  Check out this video  http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/03/22/rempel-bardish-chagger-question-period_n_15547002.html

9. Our media is covering up stories about violent crimes committed by Syrian refugees which puts us in danger—especially women and girls.  Even if you don’t like Rebel Media or Ezra Levant for that matter, get passed your bias and watch the clip below. It’s not as sensational as you may expect, especially when Faith Goldy obtains hard evidence a result of Freedom to Access of Information. Are we going to still deny there is a problem?  It is frightening, and clearly, the government had no plan for these refugees when they came here.  These are not isolated incidents as you will see that Goldy has reported from across school boards in Canada.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiD5cDCT_3g    This is another example of how refugees and immigrants are not given adequate information about expected behaviours – especially in the classroom.

10. Motion- 103 regarding Islamaphobia crafted by a Pakistani immigrant, Liberal  MP,  Iqra Khalid leaves me and my friends from former communist countries wondering – what is happening in Canada?  How does someone who immigrated from a country which has blasphemy laws and led the York University Muslim Student Association (which distributed pamphlets on how to beat your wife); has any right to curtail criticism of Islam like this?

Shockingly, there appears to be a double-standard when it comes to protecting Canadians from religious hatred. Recently, there have been two clear cases of imams calling for the genocide of Jews and spewing hate. Most people haven’t even heard about them. Check these videos out for yourself  Montreal https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FRuTP-ao9U , and  Toronto http://en.cijnews.com/?p=208986  no one bats an eye.

And contrary to our neighbours in the south who challenge antisemitism, cowardly Canadian diversity and equity consultants remain mute; confirming it is on the rise when those whose role is to confront hate and bias feel justified in keeping silent.  Being a bystander and a diversity/ equity consultant/practitioner is not only a contradiction but lacks integrity.  If you don’t feel like challenging these kinds of issues — you are in the wrong field.  How can you train others about anti-bias when you are not prepared to confront it yourself? Let’s not forget all of those who remained silent before and during World War II and all the other bystanders throughout history who collectively could have saved generations.

O Canada!  I haven’t given up on you yet but you must act quick so we remain “glorious and free”.

 

 

911 Call Taker Training


callerrevDo you currently work as a call taker?  Have you noticed the increase from callers who have low-English levels of proficiency? Chances are you have, as our research shows that call takers are receiving a larger call volume from this demographic.  The bad news?  You probably have never received any specific tips besides speak slowly and clearly.

This is when Diversity at Work’s training comes to the rescue.

You will learn everything on the flyer and much more.

We are pleased to report that participant evaluations consistently indicate that they feel their performance will improve as a result of taking this workshop.  The good part?  Even call takers with over 30 years of experience felt that way, too.

Call us today! We travel. Customization is available on request.

Reduce caller and call taker stress, triage calls effectively and provide a more equitable service.

To learn more about our business and the trainer, Evelina Silveira, please visit http://www.yourdiversityatwork.com.

 

London’s Poor Diversity Score No Surprise


Written by: Evelina Silveira, President Diversity at Work

As featured in New Canadian Media
Thursday, 27 October 2016 

A recent study published by the Western University’s Centre for Research on Migration and Ethnic Relations found a severe lack of visible minorities in leadership roles in organizations in London, Ontario. 

While the study made headlines, the findings came as no surprise to me.  I have lived in London all my life, working as a diversity consultant for 10 years. I would like to offer an explanation as to why inroads have not been made in visible minority leadership in  London, Ontario.

Flashback to about 13 years ago, when I started to work on a business plan for Diversity at Work: I interviewed many leaders in London asking them whether my idea of having a business which promoted hiring and supporting diverse candidates would ever fly?

I will never forget the answer I received from a human resources consultant who had previously held many jobs in the recruitment and leadership fields.  She said:  “Evelina, as long as there are enough white people to fill the jobs, no one will ever consider anyone else, because they don’t have to.”

Essentially, she conveyed that there really was no need to change the recruitment process and that it was too much work to do so.

A late joiner

In comparison to other cities, London has lagged behind. Perhaps it is because the jobs could easily be filled as the human resources consultant suggested, or maybe we ignore the ever-growing presence of visible minorities which started in the mid-1980’s. 

Some of our largest employers and institutions have only recently developed diversity policies, later than their counterparts in other comparable cities which have a high number of visible minorities and immigrants. I often scan the diversity plans of the public service organizations in London and it would appear that the effort or the kind of approach being used – if at all – are not producing  much in terms of achieving a representative workforce, let alone diversity in leadership. 

My observations are consistent with the findings which indicate a very low level of visible minority participation, notably 5.3 per cent on agencies, boards, and commissions.  Their lack of participation at these levels can have ramifications for how services are delivered, in addition to resource allocation. 

Furthermore, there is a tendency, especially with boards, to recruit people they know, often friends and co-workers, to fill vacancies.  This can perpetuate the lack of representation and the effort to create more diversified boards and committees.

It is startling how many workplaces have not implemented the strategies and best practices that can help mitigate these gaps. How might we explain the disconnect? There is a multitude of reasons why this occurs and this is key to understanding the problem of under-representation in London’s publicly-funded organizations.

Consider these possibilities:

·         Foreign credentials and work experience are not recognized. Generally speaking, if an applicant has not graduated from a leadership program in North America or the U.K , there is a good chance their education in leadership may not be recognized.  Leadership experience from other  parts of the world may not be taken into consideration for a host of reasons, including cultural differences in how we do business and interact with employees.  

·         Effective leadership requires highly developed communication skills:  in person, in writing and over the phone.  An internationally-trained applicant is disadvantaged if they have a pronounced accent and have an indirect style of communication.  Interviewer bias can hamper heavily-accented applicants, who may be mistaken as unqualified because they speak differently.  Across cultures, there are variations in how we conduct meetings, presentations and write reports. The Canadian standards are often learned in school or through work experience.

At civic level: zero

The number of visible minorities and immigrant leaders in municipal organizations is at a glaring zero per cent! 

Given that government organizations are held to a higher standard than the private sector to have a reflective workforce, as well as to meet Employment Equity standards, this represents a failure of implementation and consequently lost opportunities for diversifying the workforce and gaining new skills and perspectives. 

With increasing job insecurity, good benefits and salaries, public service employees are not likely to leave their jobs.  Understandably, this represents fewer opportunities for external applicants to get hired. 

It would be interesting to know if the City of London has an internal mentoring program to assist aspiring leaders.  Research consistently indicates that visible minorities and immigrants find a lack of mentors in the workplace. 

Successful leaders often attest to the significance of mentors throughout their careers.  There have been some attempts over the last few years to develop internships for immigrant professionals at the City of London. However, it is hard to know if this experience translated into permanent employment with the City.

Finally, we cannot overlook bias and racism in the recruitment and selection process, although it does not probably explain the huge disconnect between the population and their representation in the workforce. In my experience, if the leadership in an organization is not familiar with the business benefits of a diverse workforce, they are very unlikely to support and initiate programs which can facilitate the entry and promotion of visible minorities within their organizations.

Evelina Silveira is the President of Diversity at Work in London, a three-time award -winning firm which specializes in creating inclusive workplaces and diverse customer bases.  She has co-authored two globally acclaimed books and is the publisher of the Inclusion Quarterly.

Evelina, Dog Owner. Why Labels Suck.


Evelina Silveira, President, Diversity at Work

I usually like to start my day off with reading news stories from around the world, hoping to capture a balanced view of what is actually happening.  It is not always so easy to piece it all together.   One thing stands out for me for sure. The presence of labels: when, how and if they are used to describe protagonists and antagonists in the stories.

We are uncomfortable with applying specific labels when we see large groups  doing nasty things.  You are more likely to see an avoidance  of labels  with Canadian television broadcasters or more socially oriented European media.   The concern is about stereotyping, backlash, and creating fear.  On the opposite side of the spectrum when the media, social movements, governments and others want to draw negative attention to a group – the labeling comes in really handy.

Sampson 015 (1)

My Twitter feed was laden with sexist and racist exposés from journalists covering the Olympics in Rio. I also read about the hateful interactions of Arab athletes against the Israelis.  Clearly, “Israeli” or “Jew” a divisive label, was preferred over a more conciliatory one of  “fellow-athlete”.   How sad!

Labeling is tricky.  Gabby Douglas, the American Gold Gymnast had her share of labels thrown at her during the Olympics.  A lot of them weren’t very nice.  It was interesting to note how Gabby’s “blackness” was plastered around Twitter by black groups.  Then to my surprise, I saw again in my feed an article about how Gabby Douglas credits her Jewish upbringing with helping her to succeed.  Two cultural/racial groups wanting to make her their own and confer their label as a celebration of membership.  For individuals who judge people on one-dimensional characteristics: where does someone like Gabby fit in?   Since she is Jewish, does that mean she fits into the white privileged category that oppression activists would categorize, even though hatred against Jews is now considered to have reached the levels of pre-Second World War times? Or is she black?  Here lies the problem with looking at human beings so simplistically.  We are not one-dimensional.   It is time to reconsider the limitations of dangerously divisive thinking.

Labeling has been on my mind for a while, and more so now as I connect with Americans. My race seems to always come up.    Along with that, it becomes important for them to tell me their race when we are speaking over the phone.  I don’t understand it, maybe I will in the future.  In my opinion it is irrelevant, and so I wish my race was too.  I don’t think there is a universal “white” or “black” way of thinking.

I am Evelina: a multi-dimensional human being and so are you.  If it makes you happy to label me, why don’t you categorize me as  Evelina,  dog owner? I much prefer that.

 

 

 

What the Brits’ Telly Can Teach Us About Diversity Dialogues


tv

Evelina Silveira,  President, Diversity at Work

When you think about British television, what comes to mind?  Well, if you are not British most of us would probably say Coronation Street  because it has been around forever on Canadian televisions. But there is so much more to discover!  Deciding to join the cable cutting crowd, I have opted for YouTube instead, for my nightly viewing. And British TV is it!

I have been so impressed with the wide range of British television programs devoted to social experiments in the form of reality TV.  To their credit, it appears the Brits are sincerely trying to understand “the other” through their programs of cultural exchanges of various sorts.  They’re not your regular run-of-the-mill low budget reality programs but thoughtful, out-of-the-box productions that are not afraid to ask the tough questions.

Why do I find the programs to be so remarkable?  Because the participants in the social experiments get a chance to “walk in the other person’s shoes” and freely ask questions without being afraid of a label of “homophobe”, “racist”, “islamaphone” “xenophobe” etc.  You get to see the good, the bad and the ugly.  Nothing is held back and I like that.  At least, when everyone has their preconceptions on the table you have something to work with instead being terminally superficial and polite.

What I began to notice in British television was delightfully refreshing.  The Brits actually engage others in a conversation about diversity.   I don’t see that happening in Canadian television.  All  we ever see is one side of a story and you either accept it or you don’t.  There is rarely an opportunity for two groups to come together and learn about one another and gain sensitivity, empathy and insight into the other group’s world.  The Brits seem to love programs devoted to “social experiments” and I have to tell you as a lover of sociology and anthropology — these types of programs score high for me.

It must have been a television genius who came up with the subject matter.  I have watched at least one  episode with the following themes:

  • A small group of Brits who have to live like a Muslim for a designated period of time.
  • Six men from a variety of backgrounds and lifestyles who go to live in a Benedictine monastery and must follow their rules
  • Nasty British teenagers who are sent to live with an American Amish family to help them reform their ways
  • Bad behaving British teenagers who are sent to live with another family in a foreign country which is known to be “very strict”
  • Several English citizens who feel they have been negatively impacted by immigration are matched with immigrants to challenge some of their assumptions

What so good about these experiments? What do participants often learn from the experience?

  • There is greater understanding that can come from honest and often challenging conversations. You might either become stronger in your conviction or  more empathetic to the other’s experience.
  • There is value and meaning in learning about other people’s rituals even if they seem far off.
  • We can be enriched by others’ experiences and might find adopting aspects of their lives to our own.
  • Having your assumptions challenged is not a bad thing and it contributes to your own personal growth.  You can also help others grow by letting them express their biases/stereotypes and prejudices and work with them.
  • You can’t live in a liberal democracy without expecting to be offended occasionally: a price of freedom of expression.

For example, in the BBC documentary a young British-born  worker is matched to a Polish immigrant who owns his own construction business.  The young man contends foreigners are taking all of the jobs.  He gets to meet Mariuscz  a business owner and notices that his whole shop is full of only Polish workers which fuels his negative perception.   However, when he has a conversation with Mariuscz he realizes that these workers have a starting wage which is much lower than he would accept.  Mariuscz says he started at a low salary and worked his way up in a shop and finally decided to open his own business.  Mariuscz however is challenged to see that hiring only Polish workers is discriminatory and that he could benefit from English-speaking employees.  He is open to accepting this criticism and comes to see that his workers would learn English if there was someone around who would be prepared to speak it.  The result of this dialogue?  I would say a win-win for both participants.  Each was open to hearing the other’s point of view and challenge their own thinking.

British television shows me how much we Canadians have in common  However, I would have to say a few programs that I watched momentarily would never survive in Canada.  They are just too mean! Programs like Fat Families and Life on the DoleLife on the Dole  does not seem balanced at all.  Most of the cast consists of drug addicts, people who don’t want to work and ex-cons.  We don’t see many examples of the working poor.  If the purpose of Life on the Dole  is to make working people angry about the poor, than it succeeds in that regard.  If this program was filmed in Canada the slant would be different.  It would be aired to bring about empathy and awareness of the poor and set in a more compassionate light and with less of a classist tone.

All in all, British television rocks!  I need to run —-  Wife Swap UK is on!

 

 

  • Thank you for the recognition

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Get started with Workplace Inclusion Today!

  • SENSITIVITY AND EMPATHY TRAINING FOR WORKPLACE BULLIES

  • Find us on Facebook

  • Get started today with diversity and workplace inclusion

  • Follow me on Twitter

%d bloggers like this: