Cultivating Empathy -Alison Tedford

“If we don’t have the competency to actually be able to serve folks with different experiences, then it can actually be more harmful than closing the door to somebody.” Alison Tedford

Everyone, regardless of their differences and abilities, desire to feel welcome and valued wherever they go. By creating a positive work environment that is inclusive, businesses position themselves for greater success. Our guest today, Alison Tedford, helps business be more inclusive and says that it is all about cultivating empathy and matching what businesses communicate with their actions.

Alison Tedford is an author, business consultant in inclusive communications and Indigenous mother from Abbotsford, BC, Canada. She has written five books and advocates on issues of disability and Indigenous rights. 

In today’s episode, Alison talks about her career journey and how it prepared her for the work she currently does of helping business be more inclusive and cohesive.

Listen in!

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  • I started my career working for the Canadian federal government where I worked on indigenous issues within residential school claims, and then moving into the prison system. [2:20]
  • I moved into the private sector and moved that big government experience into the private sector to help small businesses. [3:08]
  • Diversity is about cultivating empathy and creating experiences where people feel welcome and valued. [4:38]
  • A lot of people tend to shy away from having those conversations because they feel they don’t want to get political. [5:22]
  • The ultimate message is about letting people know that I care about what they’re going through and what happens to them. [5:35]
  • Politics will influence things and the decisions that are made impact different people in different ways. [6:25]
  • It is just understanding that people are all having different experiences, and things are impacting them on different levels. [6:40]
  • Often people come to me because they want to make a statement about something that’s happened. [7:25]
  • We always want to make it clear that we care about what’s happening and that we’re an inclusive business welcoming all sorts of people. [7:35]
  • We have to look at how we make the experience match with what’s in our hearts and what we want to say. [8:04]
  • It’s really about creating checks and balances so that your message is cohesive. [8:26]
  • I don’t have the same budget like Amazon or Google to implement some big initiative, but we can start from where we are instead and look at what we can do with the budget we have. [9:52]
  • I try to encourage folks that it’s okay to focus on an area that you’re passionate about. [10:49]
  • Just because you care about things doesn’t mean you have to care about all the things all the time, you still have to leave room for yourself and to serve your clients. [11:15]
  • The reality is that we need to welcome people that we’re ready to serve. [11:35]
  • If we don’t have the competency to actually be able to serve folks with different experiences, then it can actually be more harmful than closing the door to somebody. [11:42]
  • We don’t have to be everything for everybody but we want to be intentional about having respect, care and concern for all people. [12:28]
  • Commercial break [14:10]
  • I try to keep things as simple as possible where I create systems that enable me do things consistently. [14:42
  • I try to make sure that I’m taking time to take care of myself as much as possible. [17:52]
  • If you’re going to spend the time and the energy and take the risks, it should be for something that means something to you. [18:14]
  • I really make sure that what I do matters to me, and it’s something that I feel like is consistent with what I want to see in the world. [18:50]
  • I took a lot of time to experiment and find what I liked and finding the best environments. [20:39]
  • There’s so much abundance of opportunity and we really have to be judicious about what we decide to invest in. [21:02]
  • If you’re looking to make your business more inclusive, but you’re feeling inadequate, remember Brene Brown’s quote that say ‘Daring leaders are never silent about hard things. [21:52]
  • If you’re a business owner, you’re daring leader meaning you’re already qualified to speak on hard things. [22:09]
  • You innovate every single day, and so you can innovate the way you work with people too. [22:18]


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