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Mixing It Up! September 29th, 2011

Mixing It Up: Endeavour’s Summer Mixer on Diversity

Author: Zahra Qureshi, Volunteer on Endeavour’s Development Committee

On August 4th, Endeavour held another successful mixer at the new ING Network Orange in downtown Toronto. About 100 current and prospective enthusiastic volunteers came out for an evening of networking and great conversation. The evening also marked the celebration of Endeavour’s recent achievement in officially becoming a registered charity, with Borden Ladner Gervais LLP making the first donation to Endeavour as a charity.

Opening remarks from the President of Endeavour, Andrea Wong, highlighted the diversity of Endeavour’s volunteers and clients. Since its inception by a small group of students, Endeavour has grown significantly with the contributions of more than 200 volunteers’ efforts and ideas to further its vision of supporting clients. As a volunteer on the Development Team, I have learned from the diverse experiences and perspectives of fellow volunteers. The organization captures the best of these differences to grow and succeed.

After the opening remarks, we had the honour of listening to and learning from the experiences and insights on diversity, from two great speakers:

Matt Fullbrook, Manager of the Clarkson Centre for Business Ethics and Board Effectiveness at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, addressed the lack of diversity on the board of directors for businesses operating in Canada. He set into perspective an economy that acknowledges diversity but has yet to explore its full potential. The key decision makers within the economy, that is to say any large company’s board of directors, are hardly representative of the diverse society they aim to serve. Will we overcome this trend? How can we create a more responsive economy with better opportunities for our diverse population? Can it be done organically or by strict enforcement?

Arti Freeman, Program Manager at the Ontario Trillium Foundation, shared her global experiences, ranging from rural India to the Asian Pacific cultures, and how they have shaped her perception of diversity. Her insightful reflection prompted me to look at more dimensions of what makes people unique, such as race and gender as well as communication styles and education. Listening to her stories, I appreciated how unique we all are and yet how much we can still share. Social innovation is critical for success in today’s global world and enables groups to benefit from the similarities and differences created by diversity. Remembering Arti’s key advice, which is to keep an open mind when you meet people and to dig deeper to recognize the potential of the endless dimensions of diversity. How can you personally apply these ideas in your workplace, school, and even personal life?

Looking around the room, I could tell the attendees were not just there to talk about diversity; we were there to demonstrate it at its best. Everyone came in with unique backgrounds and aspirations. I learned more about Endeavour’s vision and appreciate the sense of volunteerism and passion within the gathering.

Thank you to our partners for helping to make this event a success: Golden Key, Steam Whistle, Amsterdam Breweries and our hosts, ING Direct Canada.

Send us a note or comment on this blog and let us know what you think about Endeavour’s Summer Mixer. You can join us via Facebook and LinkedIn to share your feedback, tips, and ideas for future Endeavour events!

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