- Frances Guo, Ivey MBA 2018
- May 25, 2017
I came to Canada last September from Beijing, China. Before I came, I heard a lot of stories from my Chinese friends about how they felt they had failed to fit in to the mainstream culture in North America after struggling for decades. Bearing those “unsuccessful stories” in mind and adhering to the principle “when in Rome, do as the Romans do,” as a newcomer to Canada, I carefully observed the way local people spoke, worked, ate, and played, so I could copy them and grasp every opportunity to be exactly like a Canadian. In doing so, I was trying hard to minimize my differences in all aspects and to rebuild myself to be the same as the majority of local people. I no longer cherished my previous experiences as I regarded them as irrelevant in the face of dominant Canadian culture, and I held back my opinions because I feared they did not fit into the Canadian norms.
These beliefs and behaviours lasted for months and eroded my self-confidence bit by bit. Then something happened that allowed me to regain a true sense of the significance of diversity. Thanks to Ivey, we had the opportunity to reflect deeply on the issue of diversity by attending a workshop to learn more about Professor Martha Maznevski’s research on Leadership, Diversity, and High-Performance Teams, as well as McKinsey’s latest study, Diversity Matters. Both research studies show that diverse teams (companies and institutions) with great leaders outperform all other types of teams, because diversity of opinion spurs debate between team members, improving both innovation and problem solving. Diversity should be encouraged.
The workshop helped me to change my mentality toward being different from the majority surrounding me. Now I am more confident about my unique background. I am proud of who I am and I am more than ever deeply convinced that I can be an asset as valuable as local people because of my diversity. This change is not only reflected in perception, but also implemented into practice through bringing in more valuable class contribution and being more active in career research and social activities. This shift happened thanks to Ivey’s efforts in providing such a safe environment to encourage and embrace diversity.
We live in a deeply connected and global world. In order to achieve better performance, we need to accept ourselves and our differences while remaining open-minded to the outside world and looking for common ground while allowing for differences. In doing so, we find our best selves and contribute to building a more diversified and prosperous world.