Dive into diversity

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  • Myra Virgil

    Myra Virgil


With great optimism, I attended a few sessions of the Dive In Festival this week. It has been heartening to see the insurance and reinsurance sectors take on Diversity and Inclusion work.

As most people who have worked in the D&I space will attest, it is impossible to advance equity in any form without this sort of corporate buy-in — after all, Bermuda has a long history of trying to gain traction in this area. And in more recent times, the Bermuda Community Foundation’s 2017 Vital Signs report revealed that “Diversity and Inclusion” is a priority to residents, and that they want and aspire to a Bermuda where diversity is celebrated and where wide disparities are addressed.

So you can see that for me, when the first announcements of the 2018 Dive In Festival made headlines, it was exciting to see industry leaders such as Brian Duperreault, Jonathan Reiss, Patrick Tannock and Kevin O’Donnell, to name just a few, get behind the message and the approach.That money gets put behind these initiatives is also important and necessary. Having people of influence champion D&I is a big deal.

It is such a big deal that I found myself up early the next morning, digging in my old files of “work that seemed really great” and unearthing four resources produced several years ago by the Commission for Unity and Racial Equality. They were aimed at very different groups, each of which are necessary to bring about the changes we seek: business leaders such as the Dive In folks; the reinsurance and insurance companies; individuals and groups of people who live and go about their daily lives here; change agents who have spent their lives promoting race awareness and equality; and young people.

I then wrote to Duperreault and, word for word, I told him about these resources. I told him that I had read them again and they still seemed really good and highly relevant. That they were customised for Bermuda but thoroughly researched from other jurisdictions. That there were tips for each stakeholder group: employers, private individuals, community groups seeking change and, my personal favourite, a poster aimed at people trying to enter the workforce — specifically young people and students. The products may need some design updates, I told him, but all in all, “this is pretty relevant stuff”.

I also said: “Brian, next week [this was before the Dive In series started], informed lawyers and industry people are going to head up panels on this issue. But at the end of the day, it will be in-house policy folks, Strategy and HR people, and department heads who will have to make it work — at the direction of the heads of the companies, like you. They will need a road map. The ‘Leadership in the Workplace strategies’ pamphlet, for example, goes towards how to take action — whether or not it is legislated.”

Brian D. both responded, on a Sunday, and agreed that this was good info. We bantered a bit about credit to the Government as, after all, this was work initially published by a quango. We thought the proper citations could be made at moderate risk, no pun intended, to rerelease the pamphlets. But timing and time was an issue, and we left it.

As I rode back to the office from Thursday’s Dive In session, the potential to redesign and reissue a number of the publications gnawed at me. I arrived at my office thinking that, while I don’t have the time to recreate any of these products, people who want to advance this work, wherever they sit, can take this material “as is” and use it in whatever ways are most helpful to them.

For some, it will be a simple matter of finding and replacingthe words “race equality” with “diversity” — we know that D&I is huge for race equity but that we have to acknowledge that there are other areas — and “equality of opportunity” with “equity”.

If the design, which can be downloaded from the internet, does not suit or seems old school to you, you can change it. And while the info may need to be massaged for your specific purposes, it is well researched using sources from Canada, the United States and South Africa. It has been “Bermudianised” to a great extent.

Whatever you do, please keep diving in, Bermuda.

Myra Virgil, PhD, the former executive director of the Commission for Unity and Racial Equality, is managing director of the Bermuda Community Foundation, which as well as being a grant-making entity, provides products and services to funders and businesses to inform their corporate social responsibility and philanthropic strategies. The community foundation has diversity and inclusion among its primary focuses. The Strategies for Action on “Diversity and Inclusion” can be found at www.bcf.bm under “Publications News & Events”. See the PDFs under “Related Media”

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Published Oct 3, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 3, 2018 at 8:44 am)

Dive into diversity

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