Keynote Address – Relationships and Influence

There has been a lot of progress and great work that has advanced diversity and inclusion, but this has been led from our heads and brains, and it is time to build this work from our hearts, said Tej Singh Hazra, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging expert.

A self-proclaimed “sensitive Sagittarian,” Singh Hazra shared the importance of context and relationships in bridging the distance between those with “insider status” and those on the outside. Sharing his own incredibly personal experiences with health, immigration, adoption and parenting, Singh Hazra connected with the audience and inspired empathy, drawing on emotions and experiences everyone could relate to. Ultimately, there were times you were an outsider and how did this feel?

With this context and having built the trust and empathy within the room, Singh Hazra asked the audience to “look for the outsider and invite them in.” Leveraging the potential of those who are new to Canada by building connections and bringing newcomers in.

He shared examples of simple ways that Canadians who have grown up in Canada are privileged within the workplace – how they are “insiders already” – such as through their understanding of what to do, what not to do, who to talk to, acronyms and common idioms. For newcomers, he said, these can be alienating when people don’t take the time and energy to build relationships, support you and ultimately bring you into the “insider space.”

Tej left the audience with inspiration to continue to deepen relationships across difference and build more inclusive workplaces and communities, asking the audience to strive to answer with our hearts: “Did I live, did I love and did I matter?” with a resounding yes, everyday.

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