Why We Can Never Take Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, and Accessibility For Granted
Updated: Apr 27
Two weeks ago we welcomed two new team members to Pocket Concerts (welcome, Vanessa Yu and Roslyn Black!). This was our first time designing an “onboarding” process, and we decided to include some values-based activities as an icebreaker. I came up with the idea of creating a “values map” for Pocket Concerts, which would serve as a representation of what’s most important to all four of us in relation to our work. The plan was to see to what extent our values align with each other and with the Pocket Concerts mission, tap into everyone’s intrinsic motivation, and go forth with a united sense of purpose.
We did that, but we also made some surprising discoveries about diversity, inclusivity, accessibility, and equity, which I’ll share in a moment. I was shaken not by what was present on our map but by what was missing from it, and I want to share this insight to demonstrate how hard we all have to work if we really want to achieve our DEI and accessibility goals.
Creating a Values Map
Here’s how you create a values map:
Draw a big circle and put your company logo in the middle.
Have each team member write down three or four important and memorable experiences from their life on a piece of paper. At least two of them should be positive memories. Don’t worry about what kind of experience it was: it can be a professional accomplishment, a special moment in your personal life, or even an intensely negative experience. You don't need to share the stories with the group unless you want to.
For each memory, choose three or four values that underlie the experience. Why did it leave such a big impression on you? If you chose a negative memory, think about which of your values were not fulfilled or were betrayed by the experience. Write down these values in positive form. If you're having trouble framing the negative experience, write the disappointment and then invert it. For example, "betrayal" might become "trust" or "loyalty."
Having each person use a different colour of sticky note, write down all of the values that you came up with in step 2.
Put your sticky notes into position on the map according to how well they align with the values of your organization. The closer they align with the brand, the closer they go to the centre. Don't worry about being "correct." It’s interesting to see how your teammates perceive your brand.
Add any values that you associate with your organization that are not already on the map.
How do our values align with the organization’s mission/brand?
Are there values we hold that are not relevant to the business?
Are there values that you wish were better represented?
Are there ways that we can incorporate our values more fully into our operations?
How can we better communicate our values to our customers?
Which values did we have to add to the map and why?
Here’s a screen shot of the Pocket Concerts map:
At first glance, it looks great. We’ve got so many great values! But remember that four of these colours represent the personal experiences of one of our team members, and one of them does not. The blue, purple, red, and green stickies are taken from our personal histories. You can see that “connection,” “love”, “creativity,” and “authenticity” are all present and close to the centre. Looking at this map makes me feel great about the people I’m working with.
But take a look at the yellow squares. These are the ones that we added afterward, that we had to think hard to come up with. These are the values that we think are important to Pocket Concerts but aren’t part of our lived experience. And what do you see? Diversity. Inclusivity. Representation. Now that I look closer, I realize that “accessibility” didn’t even come to mind during this brief exercise, and I for one have been reading about accessibility a lot recently.
This was a big wake-up call for us, and it was a lesson that we weren’t anticipating. It was a reminder that we all come from places of relative privilege, and that although we all firmly believe in the importance of DEI and accessibility, our strongest memories are associated with other values. The challenge is not that we don’t care, or that we’re not willing to work on improving—the challenge is that it doesn’t come naturally. This means that it will require constant work and attention to turn our attention to DEI and accessibility. We all need to educate ourselves, to stretch our empathy to its limits and, even then, admit that we cannot see things from another person’s perspective.
We’re committed to improving the operation of Pocket Concerts on all four of these fronts, but it’s going to require a lot of hard work. We’re going to have to constantly renew our commitment to change, seek out “unlike-minded” people to learn from, and hopefully create some new memories that will come to mind the next time we do this exercise. We'll keep you updated as we continue to explore!
Thanks for reading,
Co-director of Pocket Concerts
Here are a few things we’re doing to improve DEI and accessibility:
Offering one-on-one online encounters with professional musicians called Mind Music, accessible to anyone with an internet connection.
Adding a “preferred language” option for our Mind Music events
Offering live closed captioning for our online Mind Music Concerts
Expanding our roster of musicians to include more BIPOC artists and be more representative of the diverse cultures of Toronto
Breaking out of the bubble of classical chamber music to add jazz, world music, folk, and more
Building an accessible website (work in progress)
Holding bi-weekly DEI and accessibility strategy meetings with our entire team
Do you have ideas for how we can improve DEI and accessibility at Pocket Concerts? Let us know!
Write to email@example.com with your ideas.