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. 

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EP28 P is for performative

What is ‘performative’?

Is all marketing/communications automatically performative if you’re setting out to announce what you’re doing to people?

No, it doesn’t have to be. Not when it’s backed up by the right action.

In this curated episode of conversations with 3 BIPOC leaders, we break down some of the realities we all need to come to grips with as individuals, and the actions we can take to move the needle forward to change.

First, we speak to Ben Borne, Indigenous marketing leader, and founder of Symmetry PR

We talk about how Canadians can centre Indigenous voices especially when something horrific like the residential school system becomes fully understood by mainstream society. Ben talks about how it all begins with vulnerability – what he’s appreciated more than anything else, is ‘witnessing the vulnerability of people who are willing to go there’. 

At the root of it is the question ‘how are we going to advance our interpersonal relationships, to learn and to be better?’ 

Next we talk to Darian Kovacs, Indigeneous marketing leader, host of “Marketing News Canada” and founder of Jelly Marketing.

We discuss how it’s never too late for brands to come to the table. Darian encourages brands to overcome fear and or paralysis by analysis, which stops people from doing something to support change.

And we round the episode out with our chat with Leo Nupolu Johnson, DEI advisor to non-profits, educator, and founder of Empowerment Squared.

We talk about the context of charitable partnerships and the need for organizations to start asking themselves if they are in a position of power to be advocates for the communities that the funders want to help. 

If you’re a leader in an organization, think about two things with everything you do, whether it’s a policy update, a change to your hiring form, or hiring of somebody who oversees diversity:

  1. Is your action intended to build trust?
  2. Is it actually building trust? (Do people now have more trust? Do people have more knowledge?) 

If you’re doing that, that’s your gauge to know that it’s not performative. If people are feeling safer, more comfortable, more supported, then you do you!

For those battling with the boundaries of coming off as performative, if you are looking for a short primer, with real actions you can take, from leaders, find 25 minutes to listen to this episode.

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EP27 C is for code-switching

In this curated episode we bring together 2 discussions. The first with Romesh Hettiarachchi, a commercial lawyer, and the second between Susan and Rohini on the microaggressions that compound and lead to many marginalized individuals’ submissive reactions in the face of bias.

Romesh tells the story of when he was setting up his firm. He had a number of different directions to consider. The first was to name it after himself, and why he chose not to go that route. He details some of the non-financial factors of decision-making like comfort, fit, perhaps quite key, the ability to pronounce the name of the other person. He chose not to name the firm after himself and instead went with B&I – Business and Innovation. He also details the distinction between the legal name of an entity and a brand name in which you engage with clients. And why he often recommends a blended approach. 

We talk about the cost of participation in the inclusion space is perceived as high. “What if I get that wrong? I would feel called out.” Even from something as simple as a name.

Then we move on over to the impact of microaggressions based on cliched biases, and learning the resilience it takes from marginalized folx to navigate that.

Many folx face bias on a daily basis. In the form of microaggressions. We’ve heard it described really well by a guest who was on The 4am Report podcast – Colin Druhan. He referred to microaggressions as paper cuts. So if someone has asked you to call them ‘they’ and you call them ‘she’ repeatedly there is a cumulative effect. 

Susan talks of how she often asked for Indian recipes, particularly Chicken Tikka recipes. How she has cerebrally tried to work it out for herself saying,” Well of course they ask you that because you’re a good cook. You talk about food often. You used to be a food blogger. And you shouldn’t be offended by that.” But the fact remains if a relationship with her is purely reliant on someone asking her those cliched questions and they don’t even know her well enough to know that she’s vegetarian, then she doesn’t have to answer them. 

Listen up to this very example-filled episode that will make you take a deeper look at the things you say and how you say them.

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EP26 Grace, empathy, and asking for change with Darian Kovacs

How do we open up doors and break down barriers for Indigenous peoples to get work?

To get mentorship? 

And to be leaders in that sector? 


Darian Kovacs asks “what if we equipped Indigenous folx with the best education, the best resources, the best credentials, and let them loose into the world of marketing and advertising? And what if they happen to rise up as the leaders? Because they’re incredibly brilliant people that are resilient, understanding, and empathetic of stories and storytelling because of the way they are brought up in their history. 


Darian Kovacs, seasoned podcast host of Marketing News Canada and founder of Jelly Marketing joins Susan Diaz and Rohini Mukherji.


We tackle the phenomenon of the new found anxiety of someone who want to be an ally who is moving from a place of privilege to just becoming aware of the real state of things I- whether it was the George Floyd murder of last year or the unearthing of over 1000 children’s graves, covered up in the Canadian residential school system. 


We touch on


  1. How to operationalize empathy
  2. How to get past the fear of doing the wrong things and paralysis by analysis that stops people from doing anything to help
  3. Some of the really practical pieces marketers struggle with – Darian talks of  a tool like Canva which many digital marketers within amazing organizations use. If you look up the stock images and try to find Indigenous people you’ll find very generalized/racialized images. When we come up against that, he suggests that we reach out to the platforms and get dialogue started on how it can change. (spoiler: they’ll likely be open to it as Darian discovered) 


This episode is super fun; complete with Grey’s Anatomy and Suits analogies and even examples of power sightings of Canadian political nerve centers (hint: Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau were in Tofino, BC in early October 2021, catching a lot of bad press on the bad taste of taking a ‘luxury vacation in this time’. Darian channels some primo empathy in his approach to that narrative)


About Darian

Darian Kovacs is the Indigenous founder of Vancouver based SEO company Jelly Digital Marketing & PR and digital marketing course, Jelly Academy. He brings 15 years of marketing experience and a passion for education, and creativity.  He is the host of the podcast Marketing News Canada. Darian specializes in mixing PR with digital marketing and has worked with numerous internationally renowned brands on developing and executing their digital marketing and PR strategies. Darian lives in Fort Langley, BC with his wife and four children and likes to mountain bike, watercolour and read in his free time.

EP25 How to be a true ally

Most people want to identify as an ‘ally’. Nobody wants to be the bad guy. Being an ally to someone who has been systematically marginalized and diminished isn’t easy. 

In this short primer episode we cover:
The NOs 🛑 
  1. Allyship is not a self-bestowed title. Don’t call yourself an ally!
  2. Allyship is not a box to check on our way to collecting a certain number of ‘woke’ points. 
  3. Allyship is not something that you earn once and keep for life. You need to keep at it, with continuous improvement. 
  4. Allyship is not one-size-fits-all. 
  5. Allyship is not a badge. There’s no Twitter verified check next to it. You do it anyway. Over the next two weeks, we’ll cover
The mindset: 2 key practices for shifting to inclusion by default 
  1.  The discipline of challenging the status quo
  2. Exercising the inclusion muscle everywhere so you’re conscious of who might be left out at any point.  
The action: 3 tangible things you can do to be a true, non-performative ally.
  1. Drop the defense. Respect someone’s courage when they share their truth.
  2. Don’t be a sheep. You have a voice and it counts.
  3. Don’t make it about you. When someone needs help, turn the focus on them.  
If you’ve just found us, give us a rating (just hit the star of your choice, no review needed even). Please and thank you. It helps us keep showing up and doing more to further inclusion education by finding the experts and voices that teach and guide.

EP24 A is for Ageism

In Episode 24, we mull: is age just a number? There are so many preconceived notions around the connection between capability and age. Unlike race, gender, or other forms of identity, age is a universal truth. We’re all going to be in our teens, our 20s and our 70s. So, age is a good place to start checking our biases.

Inclusion involves stepping away from the boomers, Gen X and millennial stereotypes and beginning to see people more fully.

Our two spotlight guests represent two different generations. The first was episode 16’s Jacqui D’Eon, owner of Jade communications, PR school instructor and the author of Stuff Happens. Jacqui can credibly speak from both ends of that discussion, from her lived experience as an older adult, as well as experience from being an educator and teaching young people.

In episode 13, Susan’s own daughter, Yara, with her wise-beyond-her-years take on whether passing down traditions blindly could stunt the next generation’s ability to be their whole selves. 

So have a listen to this curation, on the universal truth of aging.