19 May at 07:00AM
Break The Bias: A Discussion all PMs Should Know
In honour of International Women’s Day, PMIT’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee hosted an event following the theme; Break the Bias. On social media the image of women with their arms crossed represents the solidarity of putting an end to the biases women face in their workplaces, communities, and lives. We want to smash stereotypes and inequality. The spirit of this event was to create a safe and open space that we could all share our ideas, concerns, triumphs, and failures by learning together so we can make a difference. Together we can forge a path to women's equality.
"Always believe that you belong and that seat at the table is yours. You were meant to be there, so dive in." —Roberta Jane Heggie, past PMI Toronto Chapter President and DEI Chairperson
Project Management Leaders and DEI Advocates
The event was moderated by PMIT’s DEI Committee’s Chair, Christine Blair. Christine spearheads our DEI committee and she and her team work to bring events such as these to showcase the importance of being able to speak in an open space and respect one another for our differences. Christine spoke to some exceptional leaders who have done work within the DEI space.
We heard from PMI’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Manager, Megan A. Speight. Megan has brought several DEI talks and presentations throughout the project management industry and speaks passionately about the theme of this year’s IWD event. She’s always willing to listen, offer insights into how we can be better together and supports PMs globally. Megan is an ally and a powerhouse in so many ways and really passionate about DEI and bringing more awareness to all project professionals.
We also heard from award winning author and dynamic speaker, Siobhan Calderbank. Siobhan Calderbank is an experienced Senior Director of Talent Management at LCBO and focuses on talent development, learning, change management, and diversity and inclusion. She is the Founder of Butterfly Ladies—a Mentoring Program committed to helping develop the careers of underrepresented women and youth.
Rounding out the panel was passionate and powerful speaker and podcaster, Nkechi Nwafor-Robinson. Check out her podcast Empowered in My Skin. She is an award-winning Technology Executive, with over 20-years of experience. She is an AVP in Technology Solutions, currently serving in the role of Solution Train Engineer at TD Bank Group. Full of great insights and incredible stories that you certainly need to stop and listen to her!
PMI Global Work and Dedication to DEI
Megan A. Speight spoke about the changes and PMI has been undertaking in relation to their DEI efforts.
PMI is a global organization and is quite diverse. Conversations focused on DEI started back in 2019 by asking, “What more can we do for our community?” PMI’s DEI Statement solidifies the work they are doing in this space and in-part reads:
As a global leader enabling Individuals to create a positive impact through projects, PMI champions a diverse, inclusive, and equitable community…We commit ourselves to empower individuals to do their best work.
DEI impacts everything and everyone and integrating changes only makes us stronger and better. Externally DEI supports our community by:
- Using their platform and unique partnerships to bring awareness to the importance of this space.
- Providing access to trainings and resources.
- Partnering with Chapters who have their own DEI programs.
- Aiming to meet the needs of Communities on a cultural and region level to support individuals and the community as a whole.
The value of inclusion means that diverse teams increase project value. This year the focus is on integration. This should be part of PMI’s DNA going forward. If you want to read how impactful DEI is take some time to review PMI’s Global Megatrends 2022 report and reviewing the “Civil, Civic, and Equality Movements”.
How Can We All #BreaktheBias?
Cross your arms to show solidarity! Some ways we can start breaking down biases are:
Be an ally: Speak out in support to someone who identifies as a woman
Be a sponsor: Someone on your team and showcase the positive impact individuals have
Recognize your biases: We all have our own thoughts about how we see others, and this can impact others and be more aware and prevent biases from prevailing.
Listen: It’s important to pause and listen
Compensate Women: Through compensation this can show support of women
Give Women Opportunities: Allow women to grow in their careers and support their continued growth within your organizations
Project Managers Can Make the Difference
Creating teams that are diverse in different ways including those with different ideas. Nkechi says “define your leadership and inform your ‘to be list’ and let that inform the work that you do. What do you want your team to be? Hold one another accountable and show empathy in everything you do. More importantly, give accolades.” As a PM your role is forming the team and how you make them feel and respecting all members and truly value differences. As Siobhan says, “make other feel safe and invite them into the conversations”.
As an example, consider how you assign your resources as well. Make sure you are providing equitable access to different members of the team and show that everyone has an important role on the team.
Allyship has Multiple Meanings
All the panelists shared some personal stories on their experiences, and what they consider allyships to truly means to them. One way to be an ally is to speak and stand up and say and do something. Allyship means being able to put your “skin in the game” which goes beyond and what is needed. Having an ally means knowing that conversations happen behind the scenes and having allys bring you into the conversation early. Supporting one another can help one another.
The evening’s event was incredible and certainly showcased some memorable and accomplished leaders. I could have listened to them for much longer. This was one of the best events I’ve had the pleasure of attending. Thanks to PMIT’s DEI Committee, Christine Blair, and our guest panelists.
Looking to get involved in PMI Toronto DEI initiatives? Support the PMI Toronto Steering Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. For inquiries, please contact email@example.com.
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