BCB MayJune 2022_LR

With a mission to inform, empower, celebrate and advocate for British Columbia's current and aspiring business leaders, BCBusiness go behind the headlines and bring readers face to face with the key issues and people driving business in B.C.

Issue link: http://digital.canadawide.com/i/1468031

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Page 24 of 83

MAY/JUNE 2022 BCBUSINESS 25 BCBUSINESS.CA W I N N E R CAROL LIAO D I R E C T O R , C E N T R E F O R B U S I N E S S L A W ; A S S O C I A T E P R O F E S S O R , P E T E R A . A L L A R D S C H O O L O F L A W , U B C I n an apt turn of phrase, Carol Liao calls COVID-19 the "in- equality virus" for worsening global disparities across class, gender and race. "It was only May of last year when that Bloomberg article dubbed Vancouver the anti-Asian hate crime capital of North America," she says. As a kid in Surrey and Chilliwack, Liao knew what she would do with her life. Although she had no idea what the job entailed, she told every- one she wanted to be a lawyer. "My family still teases me about this," says the director of Pa- cific Canada Heritage Centre – Museum of Migration Society, an anti-racist nonprofit. Liao went on to earn a law degree from UBC, practising in New York before complet- ing a joint PhD/SJD program at UBC and UofT in 2016. She's now an internationally rec- ognized scholar. The head of the Centre for Business Law at UBC's law school has taken her stand again racism beyond classrooms and boardrooms and into media interviews and op-eds, as well as volunteer workshops on equity, diversity and inclusion. She was also a steering committee member for the 2021 National Forum on Anti-Asian Racism, which brought 186 panellists and 2,100 attendees together. Citing social movements that gained popularity during the pandemic, including Truth and Reconciliation, Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate, Liao deems "ally" a verb, not a noun. "It's about a redistribu- tion of power," she says. "These movements have emboldened organizations with a sense of urgency to think about the ways R U N N E R - U P TAMISHA PARRIS F O U N D E R , P A R R I S C O N S U L T I N G FEW PEOPLE WOULD suddenly shift gears from pediatrics to equity studies without knowing what it is, but that's the trajectory Tamisha Parris took at UofT. After graduation, when she taught English as a second language in a small Mexican town, that education helped her cope with the culture shock of being the only Black person some locals had seen in real life. "People would come up to me every day, touch my skin, ask me to take pictures with them," Parris recalls. "That is when I truly learned about diversity and how it felt, because it was never negative. It was always positive." Deciding to prioritize diversity work, she launched Parris Consulting in 2003, committing to it full-time a decade later. The Vancouver-headquartered firm helps organizations across North America develop sustainable equity, diver- sion and inclusion strategies through workshops, webinars, company-wide assessments and curriculum-building. Parris and her team of four have worked with clients ranging from U.S. tech multinational Ultimate Kronos Group to Vancouver's RainCity Housing and Support Society. Parris considers her very first diversity talk, in 2005 when working in human resources for the Durham Regional Police, one of her biggest accomplishments. "At the time, there were a lot of issues with racial profiling," she remembers. The longtime youth advocate's first volunteer role was 30 years ago with the Special Olympics, the largest sports group for children and adults with disabilities. "I have a son who is now 15, who is on the spectrum," Parris says. "I thought I was pretty well versed in everything diversity, and then I had my son, and it was a whole new world." –R.R. in which we can transform our organizational culture to ensure a safe, just and equitable space for everyone to thrive." Liao, who has given more than 100 talks on sustainable business and EDI, maintains that the former is directly related to the latter but also recognizes the importance of empathy in social justice efforts. "I'm often troubled by how some tend to pit equity groups against each other," she says. "It's not the Op- pression Olympics." Her career was born out of an interest in studying power and systems change, she notes. Liao argues that diver- sity isn't about numbers—it's about having a voice at the table and knowing you have the ability to advance. "As our planetary problems have intergenerational and intersectional effects, the so- lutions and the path forward must also include intergen- erational and intersectional voices." –R.R. EQUITY AND INCLUSION CHAMPION WOMEN YEAR OF THE 2 0 2 2

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