EP38 Honouring your own intellectual property

Today on ABCDEI we talk about intellectual property and how to honour it, as we build in public about some of our plans for the future for the body of work we’ve build through this podcast.

But first a story you’ll find a story that was first told to us by Andrea Henry of henrybrookslaw.com 

Here are some snippets 👇 You’ll have to listen to the full story on the episode.

“‘Black Girl Magic’ (the phrase) is a piece of intellectual property. But intellectual property cannot be claimed and owned by you, unless you have monetized it. So if the person who coined the phrase had even printed one t-shirt, and sold it for $10 to a friend, that would have made the phrase claimable as we understand it. But instead, the trademark or the ownership of that phrase belongs to someone who is not the creator. Why is a crying shame.”
-Susan Diaz

“I think we’ve both acknowledged where we’ve been part of the solution, as well as where we have been the receiving end of discrimination. The intersection of our identities, but also the intersection of our professional experience, and then our lived experience, specifically within microaggression biases, has certainly given us grounds to have something very real that we want to protect (in ABCDEI).”
-Rohini Mukherji

EP37 How to walk away like a Superhero

Today on ABCDEI we talk about victim-blaming, victim-shaming and so much more as it relates to the workplace. 

Turn your attention to Simu Liu (the actor who plays “Shang Chi” in the Marvel Studios superhero movie) and how he walked away from Deloitte after a bad experience to become an actor and eventually the first Asian superhero in Hollywood.

“He talked about a job termination when he used to work at Deloitte and the impact that it had on him, a decade ago. With the benefit and privilege of certainly the success he’s had since then, but also the passage of time, how he’s reflected on how that journey took him away from a path or killed a path, let’s say, to a life that wasn’t for him and gave him the motivation to live the life he actually wants. I think he’s well on his way to living that, which I think is really inspirational on a number of planes.”
– Rohini Mukherji


“What was happening on the customer relationship front, where it’s no longer about the company, the story is about the customer, the customer is king, and all of that. That’s what’s happening with employees now. When people are talking about ‘the great resignation’, and why a company needs to treat its talent with respect. And to me, it’s not a moment too soon.”

– Susan Diaz 

EP36 What does the inclusive ‘return to office’ look like?

ABCDEI is back after a short spring break! 

This season, we want to really feed into some of what we’ve built through great discussions and feedback. And focus on “conversation in progress”. 

And this year, no conversations have been more active than the ones around the return to the office! People back in offices in some part, and we’re starting to see conversations around everything from whether the dress code changed now that we’ve seen everybody in pyjamas! Ie: Is the suit over? 

But more seriously… We spotlight an inclusion perspective on the subject. There is nuance in everything starting from how you invite people back into the office.

Do you make it a choice? 
Is it everybody that needs to come in? 
Is it the same rules across the board? 
What does it mean for people whose lives have changed since the pandemic? 

And then, once we are back in the office, how do we make sure that inclusion becomes part of the operations of the workplace, and not something that’s an afterthought or a sidebar consideration?

“I think the defining philosophy going forward is how companies are going to react to hybrid work for the long haul. Repeatedly, we’re seeing people put out these surveys, and how many times does it have to say 75% of the people would prefer flexible and remote arrangements before organizations will hear that feedback? It is about trusting your people to choose. Which is easier said than done.” – Susan Diaz 

“There is a little bit of a fear of going first because there’s a fear of getting it wrong or alienating or offending. It has to be less about the actions and more about the strategy. So if you think about inclusion or building an equitable workplace as the reasoning that drives your return to office protocol, then it’s less about how many times you ask people to come in and more about communicating the purpose – ie: how are we using our in-office time differently.” – Rohini Mukherji

Listen to the full discussion with Susan and Rohini for more ⏩

EP35 How marginalized communities can take up more space

Today Susan and Rohini are getting personal. 

What can we do to TAKE UP MORE SPACE? 💫💫💫

Here we are with the second of a two part-episode (Refer episode 33 if you missed part 1), in which we’re talking about how to build the inclusion muscle and what are the things that go into the making of an inclusion habit. 

In the first part, we looked at it from the perspective of privileged, or the person who wants to be an ally. And today, we want to look at it from the perspective of the marginalized – whether by race, gender, physical ability, or sexual orientation.

There’s two sides to moving forward.
These sides are not equal by FAR.

There is however a role that marginalized communities can play in furthering (not just starting, but furthering) the education of those with privilege. 

1. Consider the token opportunity

“I have to say don’t reject the token opportunity.Even as little as six months ago I was approached to be a part of a diversity panel. And as part of the activities there was a mother-daughter segment doing a cook-off. And people on that committee wanted me to bake an Indian brownie. And I’m like, No, I don’t know what an Indian brownie is. My brownie looks just like your brownie. It probably looks better than your brownie because I know how to bake and suddenly I was just feeling like a mascot. Looking at it from today I think to myself: That’s silly! That was me getting triggered by something and I could have totally shown up and made my regular brownie and made a joke about it. Instead, I denied myself a little bit of visibility, and a fun connection with my child.” – Susan Diaz

2. Accept help

Being able to accept help, and then maybe even taking it a step further, and learning how to get good at asking for help. Don’t see these things in any way as a reflection of your ability. We live in a culture of collaboration; we can easily access the minds and the resources we need so reach out and ask for help. 

“It might mean starting to be a little bit more specific with the help you ask for versus just, ‘I’m drowning. Help me.’ Take those baby steps, do what feels comfortable.” – Rohini Mukherji

3. Learn to wear the right amount of armor to ‘battle’

“Choosing the size of armor that you need for each battle is important. So if you’re going into a situation where you’re trying to advocate for yourself, and you need an extra day to do something that has cultural significance, that is a very different proposition than advocating for yourself where you’ve been systematically discriminated against for three years, and your advancement within a company has been stifled because of your different lived experience. Those are very different battles. And it’s important to choose the armor that you go in equipped with to each battle. It is also about your own peace of mind and your own mental health, and sort of choosing and saving your resources for when you need them.

To dive way into those 3 actions we can each take, listen to the episode.

EP34 The profound calling of bridge-building in DEI with Martine Kalaw

“I make a distinction between active allies, and passive allies. We’ve got a whole lot of great passive allies in organizations that are wanting to do something and thinking ‘But I don’t know what to do!’

Active allyship can be facilitated through manager and management development. Managers all need management development. If you’re listening and you don’t have a management development program, that is a huge disservice to your managers right there. We know that managers automatically need to upskill themselves to be more effective. What I’m suggesting is DEI just becomes a way to pivot management development. It’s not changing it. That’s why it’s the ABCs!” – Martine Kalaw, CEO and founder of Martine Kalaw Enterprised and author of ‘The ABCs of Diversity’

And might we add??? 

A kindred spirit, for us, in terms of articulation of DEI philosophy.

(I mean, this podcast IS called ABCDEI 😁)

Martine’s firm supports human resources professionals in saving time, reducing burden, and being able to drive return on investment (ROI) when it comes to everything related to DEI in the workplace. They do this via training, consulting, as well as speaking.

Why Martine didn’t name her book ABCs of DEI

“My only reservation was six, seven months ago, I wasn’t sure how familiar people were with the term DEI. I think now it’s more widespread, but we are like we were right. On the same, you know, wavelength!”

Martine’s powerful story 

“So my background is I am a I am a stateless and undocumented immigrant survivor. I was born and I’m from Zambia and the Democratic Republic, respectively, and have been in the US since I was four years old. By the time I was 15, I became undocumented and I was placed in deportation proceedings for seven years and didn’t have a country to return to because I was stateless. In the time that I was navigating these spaces, and navigating and trying to survive in America, on my own, I was exposed to different communities. I went to a predominantly white boarding school. Then I went, as an African child, to a predominantly African-American Middle School. As a result, I feel like I have this privilege, I was given this opportunity to navigate all these different communities in different spaces, and be a bridge builder.”

Listen to the full, fascinating discussion with Susan and Rohini on this episode 👇

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EP33 Inclusion routines for the privileged

We’re talking about building muscle today!

Building routine is such a big part of the start of the year for many. And we wanted to bring that lens to inclusion work.

Beyond our day jobs, our podcasting, and families, we – Susan and Rohini – are also both skincare nerds! As we were talking about that, we really found the analogy back to inclusion strong because it is about habit building. It is about changing the way you think about the world, the workplace, and your friends. 

Because skincare, folks, goes back to just doing the right three to five things. Rinse and repeat! 

Words, tone, and apologies are the new ‘cleanse, tone, moisturize’, you might say!

As people who sit on both sides of the fence, there are moments where we feel that we have privilege, and others when we’ve been marginalized in a space, or excluded. We’ve learned to look at that as a strength in some ways.

So, in this 2-parter, we’re breaking down some of the resistances on both sides of the discussion. 

In the first part, we speak to the privileged. We offer three very simple things that you can think about as an ally; as a person of privilege. 

The first habit or muscle to build is empathy. Just walking in someone else’s shoes, putting yourself there, and saying ‘if this were me, what would I do?’ 

The second habit to build is education. A certain level of holding yourself accountable for educating yourself on the spaces around you. It’s the homework you have to do to live in today’s world. 

The third habit is really one to stop. Stop downplaying discomfort or conflict if something has gone wrong. If someone of a marginalized community comes to you and tells you something difficult, know that it was likely very hard for them to do. Treat it with the gravitas it deserves.

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EP32 Change hearts before minds with Victor Rampaderat

“Here’s something else that I realized which is very rarely brought into this conversation is we talk about white privilege and other privileges. Let’s talk about economic privilege. It’s really easy to become out of touch when you’ve started to gain economic privilege. And I know for myself, I’ve lived on both sides of the proverbial track. I’ve been poor, I’ve been wealthy. And at the end of the day, the problems that I face with money are very different than the problems I faced without.” – Victor Rampaderat, Founder of Discourse.


Victor’s helps organizations build diversity and inclusion within their corporate spaces, as well as their environments and cultures. He’s an immigrant from South America as a young boy – whose parents came to Canada “as refugees fleeing a lot of tensions that were happening back home. And when we got here, it was not an easy experience. The 80s were full of racism, there were a lot of derogatory comments towards people of color, there weren’t very many opportunities and the opportunities that existed were available mostly in low-wage paying jobs. So it was really tough. There were probably about 10 of us in a two bedroom apartment in Scarborough.” 


Victor’s perspective on the inclusion landscape


“I think we’re just getting started. I know that, last year we started to see the rise of the the CDO, or chief diversity officer, which was one of the fastest growing C suite, if not the fastest growing C suite roles. It can’t be one person carrying the weight, it really needs to be an entire organization, top to bottom. And that’s where the challenge is. Because you have folks that for whatever reason is, this is very personal to them, they’re out to lunch, because it doesn’t affect them.”


“I can certainly fall on the slightly more combative end of things where, when it comes to a discussion, I’m like, ‘Well, excuse you’ or ‘I’m pretty sure you didn’t mean to say that!’ And I do rely to some extent on my ability to use humor and wit and satire to get me through those discussions. That comes from my my lived experience. We moved around a lot as a family growing-up. I lived in different parts of the world. And then I’ve chosen to be, in the entrepreneurial space the last decade or so for work. That’s meant that there isn’t necessarily a boss or a framework or a complaint box that I could go to when issues happen on the daily. So I’ve learned to protect myself.” – Susan Diaz 



“Realistically, one of the things that I’ve always said is that you need to change people’s hearts before you can change their minds. The people that want the change, will change. I’ve changed numerous times in my life. I was a criminal. Before I was 18, I was banned from the entire region I now live in. At the end of the day, I realized at that point, I no longer wanted to be that person. I wanted to be someone else. My parents didn’t sacrifice the things they did, to come to this country, for me to end up a failure, either dead or in jail.”


“Your own personal journey is so powerfulin the collective as well. You said Okay, this was the status quo, I was living this kind of life, and it fit, and it worked. But that’s no longer the person or the company, or the image, or the reputation that we want to have. So let’s just reinvent. We don’t need to reinvent everything. But who is it that we want to be to our customers, our employees? Just having that moment of self-reflection is a powerful way to start.” – Rohini Mukherji 


Listen to the full episode and drop us a 5-star review if you’re a return visitor. Thank you!

EP31 “I want to own your pain” – with Shari Foos

“It’s a profound thing to offer an apology. An apology is not dependent on forgiveness and has no excuses. An apology is me humbly coming to you and saying, “Oh, I see that I’ve hurt you; that I was inappropriate in some way.” And by the way, I may not have intended to hurt you. I may not even agree that it was something for which you should feel hurt. But that’s not the concern of the apology. The apology is merely recognizing that you feel hurt based on something I did or said. I want to own own your pain, and apologize for it” – Shari Foos 

To kick things off this year, we have with us Shari Foos, Marriage and Family Therapist and founder of The Narrative Method. 

Shari’s point of view on inclusion was honed while studying Narrative Medicine at Columbia University. The program was conceived as a way to teach empathy to doctors. “There was a huge perspective about social justice, and what does it mean for someone to speak for a patient and you can extrapolate that to what does it mean for anyone to tell someone else’s story. And so I have always been a big fan of the group process since I was a teenager, when I was depressed and found myself in group therapy. And what was so powerful that and I see to this day is that as important as one-on-one relationships are, they cannot simulate a good family the way a group can. And when everyone is nodding, because they understand what you’re saying, you feel normal, you feel good, you feel you belong. So that’s why I decided to take all of the work I had done, and create a group process where people could have meaningful conversations, without small talk, based on inspirational art, or videos or music or something that evokes a prompt, and then they’ll go into smaller groups and discuss those prompts. Or in the case of writing groups, they write about them.” – Shari Foos 

Here’s some of what Susan and Rohini discuss with Shari

“We’re natural storytellers, based on the professional lines that we have chosen (as marketers and PR leaders), but our ‘why’ came from a personal and painful experience and the urge to make sure that doesn’t happen to somebody else, or the urge, perhaps for somebody else to learn from the hard soul searching work that we had done” 

– Rohini Mukherji 3:53  

“What Shari said about that “squeaky wheel” kid usually being the creative kid stood out for me. I have a 10 year old daughter and she’s definitely curious and challenging. She’s very, very creative. I say often, well you’re lucky, you’re in the right place to be that squeaky wheel. I’m listening closely because I want to encourage that creativity. Because for me, the environment was much more “Don’t ask too many questions. Be seen and not heard.” The person who’s telling a story is being brave. How do we make make them more comfortable?”

-Susan Diaz  8:03 

For that and more on empathy, apologies, creating safe spaces. Listen to the episode!

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EP30 Equitably ever after

In this episode, Susan and Rohini focus on taking the theory of many of the inclusion lessons discussed with experts in the space over 3 seasons into practical reframes of incidents that routinely occur in the workplace. 

Both co-hosts share an incident from their professional lives and get vulnerable. From it, they hope to reinforce that ‘it happens to all of us’.  They share learnings these experiences, ways in which you can advocate for yourself if you find yourself in a similar situation.
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EP29 I is for Immigrant

The inclusion conversation is not a new conversation. 
It’s a conversation that can get frustrating.

Through 2021 there’s been a sense of urgency from communities outside racialized communities, for example. And that can bring with it tiredness for those who’ve been battling inequalities. We must recognize that fatigue.

In this curated episode, Susan Diaz and Rohini Mukherji have conversations with Gail Strachan – culture strategist, co-Founder and co-chair of the first-ever Antiracism in PR summit; as well as Stacy Lee Kong, journalist and editor of ‘Friday Things’.

Gail’s journey began as curiosity about Black history in high school and became confusion, hurt and anger. As a social justice advocate, Gail states that skirting around the topic of race is stifling our progress towards inclusion and equity. We discuss the foundation of disproportionate power structures holding BIPOC, and break down the meritocracy myth once and for all.

In our chat with Stacey, she shares, how as a racialized woman in journalism, she has turned some of the fatigue around race-related conversations into pop culture reporting with a cerebral twist. She delves deep into the stories beneath some the biggest celebrity scandals, with takeaways that are accessible to most. 

If you like what you’re hearing, don’t forget to hit subscribe, and please drop us a review.