HBA student reflects on leading in a diverse workplace

Take a moment to read Ally Co-Director Annika Lui's thoughts on expressing personal values in the workplace.

About the Author: As the Co-Director of Ally@Ivey, my role is to actively work with various stakeholder groups in the community in order to design and implement strategies on how to educate on diversity and advocate for inclusion within the Ivey community. My goal is to help prepare Ivey students to be leaders and allies in the diverse 21st century workplace.  To me, inclusion is about creating an environment of equal access and opportunity through removing discrimination and valuing all individuals. Inclusion is important because everyone should be empowered to thrive being their whole selves.

Throughout my HBA journey, there is one class that particularly stood out to me – Giving Voice to Leadership. Although there is tremendous value in learning the technical skills required for professional success, learning how to navigate the workplace through soft skills is incredibly important. Soft skills such as communication strategies can both be taught as well as make or break your professional reputation and your ability to bring your whole self to work. Giving Voice to Leadership is not your everyday ethics class that aims to distinguish right from wrong. Giving Voice to Leadership focuses on how to individually script strategic communications and create thoughtful action plans when facing values-driven conflicts.

These communication skills gained in the course teach you to critically analyze and respond to questions such as: How, as a recent graduate, do you voice your opinions in the workplace? How do you voice your values when your values conflict with the industry or company norms? How do you stand up for workplace inequality? How do you handle company information that you believe the public needs to know? How do you deal with sexual harassment in the workplace?

Being able to answer these questions through utilizing the advice and strategies explored through interactive cases led by guest lecturers featured in the cases has been an invaluable experience. This is the typical case based learning of Ivey taken to another level, through the involvement of people within the Ivey network who deliver in-person answers to your case-related questions.  These insights can drastically transform your career path.  Learning what to do when it comes to whistleblowing, discrimination, quality decisions, and international expansion into violent and corrupt nations is crucial should you ever come across them in your career.

Often business schools paint a rosy picture of what the workplace is like.  Not that the workplace is somewhere that is dramatic, but these things can happen.  You want to be fully equipped to deal with business decisions of all sorts.  Knowing how to voice your values in the workplace as a leader has an impact on both yourself and the community in which you live and work.

This course, Giving Voice to Leadership, is about being an ally to yourself and those around you.  It is not about falling on your sword, but rather strategically navigating situations in which values are at play.  You never know when these key take-aways will be drawn upon, but I strongly believe that they will be in some shape or form. 

Through working as Co-Director of Ally@Ivey, a student service at Ivey that educates on diversity and advocates for inclusion, I find tremendous value in these course learnings. Working in the 21st century workplace presents challenges and we are no stranger to the challenges of inequality faced by diverse groups.