The Cultural Synergist

Insights for the month with Dr Tom Verghese

The Cultural Synergist- Insights for the month

August 2022

Issue # 172

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The Evolution of DEI...

Over the last two years, I have been collaborating with three other ‘seasoned’ DEI practitioners to create a handbook detailing our collective experience and learnings that will hopefully be used as a reference and guide for those coming into this space. It has been an interesting and creative journey where we are constantly testing each other’s ideas as part of the process. Last week, one of my co-authors shared a story about attending a recent conference. The participants were asked where they thought their organisations were in terms of the DEI journey. Surprisingly, she noted that many participants felt their organisations were only at the beginning/ early stages of the journey. It is intriguing to think that while so many organisations have been incorporating DEI into policy and conducting online learning and workshops for many years, that the perception is they are still in the early stages.

Reflecting on my time working in this space, which now spans 30 years, I can say that the
conversation around DEI has shifted and evolved with significant change in the nuances.
When I began this work, much of my focus was on trying to explain the business case for diversity. Over time the conversation has broadened, and the context has changed. Aspects of diversity, including race, ethnicity, gender, disability, intergenerational and the intersections between them are just some of the dimensions that DEI has grown to encompass. Remembering also, the impact that the language and sophistication of a new generation having grown up with the global connectivity of the internet, has had on demanding equity and representation.

This demonstrates that the field is evolving, is highly dynamic and in constant motion and growth. As a DEI practitioner it is important to be ‘au courant’ and look to be advancing our own understanding and learning to ensure that we are keeping up.

Here are some suggestions on what you could be doing:

-Attend learning events

-Join groups where you can safely test ideas and be tested

-Be across current conversations

-Listen to different perspectives

-Be prepared to be uncomfortable.

I encourage you to consider how you are evolving your DEI practice.

Quote of the month:

"I tramp a perpetual journey..."

- Walt Whitman

Book recommendation:


Emotional Female, Yumiko Kadota

A passionate account of the toxic culture of bullying and overwork that junior doctors can experience in the workplace as part of their training.

Yumiko Kadota was every Asian parent's dream- model student, top of her class in medical school and on track to becoming a surgeon. A self-confessed workaholic, she regularly put 'knife before life', knowing it was all going to be worth it because it would lead to her longed-for career. While the punishing hours in surgery were gruelling, she also faced challenges as a young female surgeon navigating a male-dominated specialty. She was regularly left to carry out complex procedures without senior surgeons' oversight; she was called all sorts of things, from 'emotional' to 'too confident'; and she was expected to work a relentless on-call roster, sometimes seventy hours a week or more, to prove herself. Eventually it all became too much and having experienced serious physical and psychological burnout Yumiko resigned.

Emotional Female is her account of what it was like to train in the Australian public hospital system, and what made her walk away. Yumiko Kadota is a voice for her generation when it comes to burnout and finding the resilience to rebuild after suffering a physical, emotional and existential breakdown. This is a brave, honest and unflinching work from a major new talent.