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  • Tanya Cowie

Overview of Dr. Ismaël Traoré’s presentation: Developing an Anti-Racist Organization: A Model

When George Floyd was murdered, and the mainstream world took notice, many people and many institutions were struggling to know what to do. There was a burning need to create institutions with an anti-racist framework but were not sure how. A year ago, 47% of the population thought race was important and now 60% does. To help institutions address this, Dr. Ismaël Traoré shared his insights with a record crowd of over 300 people at an event presented by Langara College and SIETAR BC.

Dr. Traoré gave us a theoretical path of what not to do and what to do. He told us to have a vision and to identify a desired outcome. He told us to do JEDI work (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion).

He first outlined the importance of understanding the historical differences of oppressed groups and that it is not ok to just hire diversity, but that in order to have true inclusion, people must feel belonging for their uniqueness and not be expected to assimilate. Phrases such as “Oh, he wasn’t a good fit” perhaps show this. He suggested that treating everyone the same, irrespective of socio-cultural differences, can be unequal. Equity is giving degrees of support in order to have equal outcomes. The justice piece is to redress historical social wrongs. Equality, Justice and Inclusion must be in place before diversity. Changing attitudes in people is not enough- an organization must change to have long term and multifaceted change.

JEDI researchers have a new way to look at this work with the Multicultural Organizational Development Model.

This model is a plan that focuses on:

  1. Changing a monocultural organization to a multicultural organization.

  2. Deciding on a desirable outcome

  3. Selecting goals and interventions

The plan is a framework that is a continuum with 6 stages for organizations to go through. The framework is based on core assumptions:

  1. It questions and challenges the status quo

  2. An organization must be just and equitable

  3. We must unlearn, relearn and do things differently

To be lasting, an institution must include anti-racism in its mission, values and workplace culture. Some people may resist this.

The vision takes commitment, racial inclusiveness, racial and cultural diversity, decisions that ensure fairness, multicultural and racial literacy, awareness of the status quo and of the dominant group, and must be fluid and responsive.

Dr. Traoré went through stages of the model in detail giving a clear concise map of how to go from being a monocultural institution to becoming a truly anti-racist multicultural organization. The last stage of the continuum included these things:

The institution should:

Have external measures of accountability

Be familiar with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission documents

Identify change agents and allies

Identify the readiness of the organization

Identify the commitment and intent

Access where an institution is – audits-and how far it needs to go

Get data and develop criteria of what should be assessed

Develop and implement a plan

Have leadership to make, review and execute plans

Have Human Resources interventions

Create spaces for racialized people

Need an anti-racism curriculum

And continue to push until anti-racism is part of the institutional DNA



Dr Traoré’s talk left people hopeful as it gave us a path to follow with clear steps on how to begin this process. It may be messy, but as he says, “if we do not start the work now, then when? We are the ancestors to this work.”


If you would like the link to the recording of Dr. Traoré’s presentation, please email info@sietar.bc.ca. It will be available until the end of March, 2021.


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