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Leadership, learning, and allyship: how the Y takes pride in our diversity

23 July 2019 - by YMCA of Greater Toronto
At the YMCA of Greater Toronto, we’re committed to building inclusive workplaces. For us, this means offering meaningful leadership and learning opportunities for our teams and crafting a work culture where everyone feels like they belong.

Pride is a perfect example of how our teams come together to learn and grow while engaging in important conversations about diversity and social inclusion.

Meaningful leadership opportunities

Our YMCA has set up a Pride Committee, consisting of staff ambassadors who work year-round to create awareness and visibility opportunities for 2SLGBTQ+ communities. It’s one of several working groups and committees that’s committed to fostering diversity and social inclusion in our workplaces and for our communities overall.

Harriett Brempong, one of the Committee Chairs, says she wants to give voice to important issues and make a positive difference. “I’m a Black Lesbian woman,” says Harriett. “I thought it would be really important for a Black queer voice to be brought to the table and to be part of the conversation when we’re talking about issues that exist for the 2SLGBTQ+ community.”

Ongoing learning and self-reflection

Another way we’re supporting diversity and social inclusion is by encouraging learning and self-reflection; to understand others, we believe it’s important to understand ourselves.

From May to July 2019, our Pride Committee hosted learning sessions on intersectionality for our volunteers and staff across the GTA. We explored many topics, including what it means to appreciate intersections and how they make us unique.

It’s when we recognize how these dimensions come together that we can challenge assumptions and biases that may be acting as barriers to inclusion. With this awareness we can choose more positive actions.

“I believe that sharing knowledge can spark real change,” shared Christina, a participant in one of these learning sessions. “I feel so fortunate to work for an organization that values diversity and promotes inclusion in meaningful ways.”

Being an ally to create a sense of belonging

During Pride, we also explored what it means to be an “ally”. Allyship can go a long way in building a sense of belonging and community.

Allyship is an invitation to action that is all about supporting others. It’s a lifelong process of building relationships with people or groups based on trust, consistency, and accountability. In that sense, it means continuous learning, listening, understanding, and valuing other people’s perspectives and lived realities to help everyone feel comfortable being themselves.

These actions and initiatives are part of what make the Y one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers. We’re eager to continue providing the kinds of leadership and learning opportunities that will help create more inclusive workplaces where everyone can thrive.

Join a charity where you’re free to be yourself, and encouraged to create that feeling of belonging for your whole community. Check out the current employment opportunities at the YMCA of Greater Toronto.


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