As the shockwaves of George Floyd’s death, and the ensuing Black Lives Matter protests, continue to ripple across the world, more organizations are using this moment to try to engage with anti-racist work and education. Hockey Canada is doing just that this summer during its virtual training sessions, inviting diversity and inclusion expert Tina Varughese to host several sessions for staff and players.
Speaking with the Toronto Star, Tina said her focus for these sessions was recognizing and learning about the impact of unconscious bias. The idea of unconscious bias being that, we all have social stereotypes about certain groups that are subtly active in the background of our mind—bias about groups based on race, but also things like gender identity, sexual orientation, age, and religion.
“I thought that was where it might make the most impact in Hockey Canada — both on and off ice. You can’t make much change with diversity and inclusion if you don’t know how you see the world,” Tina said.
These sessions are mandatory and a part of their commitment to listen, take proactive action and grow, said Hockey Canada in a statement. From Tina’s point of view, the audiences were very receptive to the ideas she put forward.
“I felt they were much more transparent and honest about not only recognizing that they either had unconscious bias or (that they) didn’t even know what it was, but they were also very transparent in understanding what other people might go through,” she said to the Star.
Talking further about her workshops, Tina highlighted that this kind of work can be difficult but it’s about doing important work that impacts everyone:
“These are not politically correct discussions. They are open dialogue, and people are learning to be more comfortable with being not comfortable. I think that’s very encouraging.”
An Indo-Canadian daughter of first generation East Indian parents, Tina Varughese says her cultural background allows her to find “the best of both worlds” and shed light, knowledge, and, most importantly, universal humour into the changing workplace. Her highly entertaining, interactive, and practical keynotes leave attendees inspired to think, behave, act, and communicate with intention.