imagine.change. is more than just Ricoh’s tagline. It’s the ethos that our employees embody so that they can focus their imaginative thinking to drive change. Over the next few months, we’ll be featuring a series of articles about Ricoh employees who have actively changed their communities, teams, and workplace for the better. We consider them to be the true Ricoh Change Makers.
Our featured Ricoh Change Maker this week is June Dias, Strategic Account Executive. A dedicated mother, peer and community advocate, June has been instrumental in creating and driving initiatives for the many community groups that she is involved with.
A passion for change
Community lies at the heart of June’s passion for creating a sense of belonging for everyone. At Ricoh, she sits on the Diversity & Inclusion Committee where she leverages the committees’ ideas and initiatives and applies them to the many community groups she is part of outside of work.
Residing in a small and diverse community in Caledon, Ontario, June actively participates in the several local groups. The Resident’s Group focus is to help bring a voice within our community, to help address community initiatives, building & development, with the Town of Caledon on behalf of the Residents.
Passion & Sparkle is a women’s networking group that focuses on female empowerment, race relations within the work force and community.
Equality for all
Recent equality movements and the growing need to raise awareness have resonated with June on a personal level. An immigrant of mixed race, June spent much of her childhood in a predominantly white community where she experienced subtle and not-so-subtle instances of racism. She remembers struggling to embrace her difference in skin tone, hair and culture. “I grew up my whole life not wanting to be different.”
While instances of prejudice and racism continued for June into adulthood, the more she matured the more courage she had in herself.
After many years of learning to embrace her identity and becoming comfortable in her own skin, June began to celebrate diversity through her community efforts. And as a mother, she naturally wanted better for her own children (also of mixed race), by encouraging her children to embrace and be proud of their identity and culture.
However, after an encounter at her son’s school where he was unfairly mistreated by another student just because of the way he looked, June’s hopes for her children to experience a childhood free from inequality were dashed. As a mother, June was devastated. But she used this to fuel and ignite change within her own home as well as within others. She began by educating others on the value of diversity and engaging in difficult but meaningful conversations.
Being a voice for her community
June recognized that as a voice within her community, the only way to achieve change was from the top. “It’s great if our community can do it together as residents but if our council and our mayor are not on board, we’re not going to get anywhere.”
She reached out to her local councilor Johanna Downey (Chair of Diversity and Anti-Racism for Peel region) with a question: ‘What can we do and how can I help drive change?’ Johanna Downey works with government, school boards, police to ensure all public services are examined under an equity lens. “We have a great relationship and she is consistent in sharing best practices into the community for our benefit.”
The pair set about establishing a roundtable initiative, led by members of the community from diverse backgrounds and a set of guiding principles. June’s responsibility is to organize and lead this Community roundtable to address equity issues at a greater scale. “Addressing these issues through a diverse community lens leads to active resolutions,” says June.
The purpose of the initiative is to discuss matters within the community no matter how large or small. With open conversations, it is June’s hope that the community would grow and break stigmas associated with race equity.
June’s commitment to change has not only inspired those within her social community but also those with whom she works professionally. After a recent conversation with June about current events and race equity, a Ricoh colleague was motivated to write a public statement of support for people of colour. This individual felt compelled to highlight the need for acceptance and diversity within their own community and even participated in several local marches in solidarity. While just one example of June’s ability to inspire change, it’s speaks to her motivation for why it matters: “If others want to be educated, I am absolutely comfortable providing that knowledge to them as best as I can. I am okay with sharing my experiences if I think it’s going to help others better understand people of colour.”
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