Tina Varughese – Diversity and Inclusion Speaker

Tina Varughese – Diversity and Inclusion Speaker
Tina Varughese – Diversity and Inclusion Speaker

Biography and Introduction

Hi, I’m Tina and I am the go-to inclusion and cultural diversity speaker who helps you increase positivity, profits, and purpose in your organization.

I transform workplaces into spaces of psychological safety that make difficult conversations possible, enable people to see how they are part of the problem (and, more important, the solution), and result in everyone feeling seen, heard, and acknowledged.

Let’s talk about how I can do that for you.

What Makes Me One of the Top Keynote Speakers on Diversity?

➦ I live it as an Indo-Canadian daughter who also has a strong professional background in immigration, giving me a perspective that spans the best of both worlds.

➦ I speak truth to it as a sought-after cultural diversity keynote speaker who has been recognized by Ignite Magazine—the premier magazine for conference and event planners—as one of Canada’s Top 10 Notable Speakers.

➦ I have spoken to audiences around the world, including Pfizer, Hockey Canada, Henkel, Hyundai, Travelers Insurance, Turnitin, the Department of Justice Canada, and many more on what diversity, equity, and inclusion looks like and how they can embrace it to be better, do better, and grow better.

➦ I have a unique perspective on what works from running my own successful relocation company and from my business degree.

Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Yes, diversity, equity, and inclusion is often an uncomfortable topic.

But through my uniquely interactive, energetic, and entertaining approach, I help people get comfortable with their discomfort quickly.

My keynote presentations and training sessions create a psychologically safe environment where employees can share ideas, ask questions, and communicate openly and authentically without fear of retribution or consequences.

That is the foundation for creating a diverse and inclusive workplace.

And that opens the door for impactful change.

Once opened, I help people move from jaded judgment to curious compassion.

I open their eyes to the fact that diversity, equity, and inclusion is more than a black and white issue.

It’s also peony pink, taronga taupe, and toasted almond.

(Did I mention that humor is my secret sauce?)

And I give audiences fun, relevant, and practical actions they can take to embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion in their work and their lives.

My tools and techniques are proven to create more inclusive organizational cultures of collaboration, creativity, and open communication, which leads to positivity, profitability, and purposeful change.

So, are you and your team or conference ready to get a little uncomfortable, gain a lot of perspective, and join a movement that is not only creating stronger organizations but also a better tomorrow?

Let’s get started.

Topics

50 Shades of Beige: Communicate with the Cross-Cultural Advantage

Are issues like these causing stress, conflict, confusion, time and money in the workplace?

  • Why does this client/co-worker constantly interrupt the conversation? Is he not interested in what I’m saying?
  • He never looks me in the eye. Clearly he does not respect me.
  • Hua said she’d complete the proposal last week yet she still hasn’t. Does she not understand it’s important?
  • Gustavo never has an opinion during meetings. Was he the best candidate for this job?

Why this topic?

Successful organizations understand that being able to communicate cross-culturally in the workplace leads to enhanced productivityperformance and employee engagement. Managing diversity drives profitability, leads to innovation and promotes an inspiring workplace culture.

Everybody can benefit from communicating more effectively, however, when 20% of Canada’s population is foreign-born (and much higher in urban centres), communicating with the cross-cultural advantage is arguably one of the most important types of communication to understand and benefit from in the 21st century. Any organization with a culturally-diverse client base or increasingly multicultural workforce would benefit greatly from this topic.

What Attendees Will Learn

  • Cultural differences in communication: Indirect vs. direct speaking styles
  • Individualistic and collective cultures: How values change the way we communicate
  • Effective day-to-day communication when English is a second language
  • Non-verbal communication: Why the “unspoken” word is the most important of all
  • How global companies lose millions in revenue due to a lack of understanding of cultural differences

What is Unconscious Bias? Making a First Impression in Seven Seconds or Less

Are issues like these causing stress, conflict, confusion, time and money in the workplace?

  • Emily is 30 years old. This role involves a lot of travel – should she promoted? What if she decides to have children?
  • Manuel has such a strong accent that I’m just not sure if he’s a good cultural fit for our organization?
  • As an ambitious white male I am the minority these days! I can’t check any of the boxes. Will I be passed over for this promotion yet again? I’m ready to quit.
  • Should Morton really lead the charge of the IT department? He just seems ancient to me.

Why this topic?

First impressions, positive or negative, are made in seven seconds or less. We all make quick assessments of others without even realizing it. We are not born with bias. Biases are formed by past situations, experiences, background and culture. Unconscious biases typically exist towards gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability (both physical and mental), and weight. Most of us will say “I see people for who they are” but do we? Unconscious biases affect and impact decision making both professionally and personally with real impact. Recognizing, managing and mitigating unconscious bias promotes diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion drives innovation, increases productivity, and stimulates creativity while promoting a healthy, happy, engaging workplace culture.

What Attendees Will Learn

  • The Neuroscience behind Unconscious Bias (“No blame, no shame”)
  • Managing and Mitigating Unconscious Bias in Recruitment, Retention and Employee Engagement
  • Breaking Bias – Strategies for Gender, Maternal, Affinity and Ageism
  • Sesame Street 2.0 – One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong… or does it? How Diversity Drives Innovation, Creativity and Productivity
  • Why Creating a Culture of Inclusion affects Positivity, Profits and Purpose

Inclusive Leadership: From Silos to Solutions

Are issues like these causing stress, conflict, confusion, time and money in the workplace?

  • The sales managers are at ‘lunch meetings’ all the time, whereas we’re on site working. How does the sales team expect to make our deadline with that attitude?
  • I believe in an open-door policy but Anil is in my office all the time and I’m struggling to complete my own work.
  • Mary Ann’s negativity is decreasing morale. I’m worried it’s affecting our productivity. How should I approach this with her?
  • Joe is highly respected by his crew yet working 15 hour days. Will he burn out eventually? I can’t afford to lose him

Why this topic?

Creating a great organization isn’t just about breaking down cultural barriers. It’s about building a workplace where everyone works towards a common purpose and feels included despite title, rank or position. Successful leaders understand people do not leave jobs. People leave people. Today’s successful leaders believe not only in investing in themselves, but encouraging others to grow, to learn and to develop in order to build inclusivity and trustbreakdown silos, foster employee engagement, encourage open lines of communication, promote creativity and create a healthy, happy and inspiring workplace.

  • Breaking down silos: How to create respectful, communicative, inclusive and collaborative teams
  • Delivering constructive, influential, inclusive and solution-based feedback
  • Death by meeting: Five key steps to inclusive and effective meetings
  • Inclusive personal and organizational purpose: How recognizing others’ contributions gives you a stronger sense of purpose
  • Negative Nellie and Nasty Ned: How to actively listen, include and empathize to change negative behaviors at work
  • The importance of stress management for leaders

Ctrl-Alt-Del: Give the (Re) Boot to Work-Life Balance

Are issues like these causing stress, anxiety, guilt, weight-gain, sleep-deprivation, and negativity?

  • I have a demanding job often taking work home with me. When am I supposed to find time to exercise?
  • Between work, kids’ activities, cleaning the house, and preparing meals I’m exhausted. Does everyone feel like this?
  • I always take on additional projects at work and at home. I don’t seem to have any time to breathe these days. Why do I say ‘yes’ to everything?
  • I feel like a hamster on a wheel with little to no time for myself.

Why this topic?

Only 23% of working Canadians are highly satisfied with life. In fact, one-third of Canadians feel they have more work to do than time permits. Work-life balance is not a gender issue. Men have the same issues balancing career and family as women do and also struggle with obtaining work-life balance. With technological advances coupled with more women entering the workforce due to economic pressures, work-life balance can seem evasive and unobtainable. But with essential tools, tips and strategies, employees can minimize stress, maximize efficiency, improve productivity and boost positivity both at work and at home.
Increased work-life balance leads to lower employee absenteeism and turnover rates and higher levels of employee engagement.

What Attendees Will Learn

  • 168 hours = 168 hours: Why more time does not mean more balance
  • Five key stress busters that are essential for a healthier, happier, and more balanced life
  • Tips and tools for difficult conversations at work and at home
  • Increasing your work-life balance score with the Japanese concept of ‘kaizen’
  • Cultural differences in the perception of work-life balance
  • The high cost of always saying ‘yes’
  • Retrain your brain for positivity
  • Having it all… or having it all right now?
  • Prioritize your life the way you want your obituary to read

Gen Zen: Communicate, Collaborate and Cooperate in the Changing Workplace

Are issues like these causing stress, conflict, confusion, time and money in the workplace?

  • Trevor is always on his iPhone? How does he get any work done!?
  • I wish Mei-Wen would contribute more in meetings. When I hired her she seemed so bright.
  • Jacqueline is so shy. How can she take on the role of VP of Marketing? Who would respect and listen to her?
  • George is always in my office. We have Outlook for a reason. He’s seriously wasting my time.

Why this topic?

Successful leaders understand today’s increasingly multigenerational, multicultural and multifaceted workforce brings both opportunities and challenges if not managed effectively. To create trust, collaboration and creative work environments, inclusive leaders need to effectively communicate, understand and listen to their fellow employees. Everybody wants to be seen, wants to be heard and wants to be acknowledged.

Learning how to communicate and cooperate in the workplace leads to a healthierhappiermotivating and inspiring workplace where everybody benefits.

What Attendees Will Learn

  • Are you generationally ‘savvy’?
  • Does your leadership style reflect “gen zen”?
  • Play nice in the sandbox – team building through collaboration and understanding
  • Empowering introverts in the workplace
  • Individualistic and collectivist cultures: how values change the way we communicate
  • What time is it? The difference between monochromic and polychromic cultures and why it matters to the workplace

Successfully Selling and Servicing to All Cultures

Are sales, negotiations and customer service suffering due to issues like these?

  • Vikram continues to negotiate on the house price even though we have a signed contract. How do I explain I cannot reduce the price anymore?
  • This client shook my hand like a ‘wet noodle’. Is he not interested in buying insurance through me?
  • My entire team is Caucasian. How can we increase business in multicultural markets?
  • Jennifer is my ‘top performer’, yet many prospective male clients won’t look at her. Is it because they do not respect women?

Why this topic?

The population in general is becoming increasingly multicultural. One-fifth of Canada’s population was born outside of Canada (much higher in urban centres)-making it one of the fastest growing niche markets today. Second and third generation immigrants are highly influenced by parental values, beliefs and cultural nuances. With diversity comes opportunity, and potential for growth in salesbrand loyalty and profitability. By building trust and rapport through understanding, recognizing and respecting cultural differences, successful companies can capitalize and profit from this often untapped market.

What Attendees Will Learn

  • Work less, sell more: Increase repeat and referral business cross-culturally
  • Are we speaking the same language? Successful cross-cultural negotiations
  • When yes means no: How communication styles differ across cultures
  • Multicultural marketing: Spending dollars strategically in multicultural markets
  • Non-verbal communication aka “The Seinfeld Syndrome”: Are you a loud talker and losing business because of it?
  • What women need to know to succeed cross-culturally
  • I don’t understand: When strong accents inhibit communication and what to do about it
  • Million dollar mistakes: How global companies fail due to a lack of understanding cultural differences

Recruiting Foreign Workers for Success and Sustainability

Are issues like these causing stress, conflict, confusion, time and money in the workplace?

  • During the interview this foreign worker couldn’t engage in small talk and won’t address past achievements and accomplishments, yet seems highly qualified. Is he?
  • Zeeshan’s accent is so strong that I can’t understand him when he calls me with off-site with questions.
  • I often offer Pierre constructive feedback, yet he never implements it.
  • Vilma continues to speak Tagalog with Caridad around patients. Will patients feel anxious and confused?

Why this topic?

Successful organizations understand that being able to attract, recruit and retain a qualified worker with appropriate skills, personality, attitude and motivation can be challenging at the best of times, let alone when chronic labour shortages exist in both skilled and non-skilled occupations. A shortage of skilled labour limits the ability to increase sales or production, which is why many successful organizations recruit foreign workers.

The top source countries for foreign workers are India, China, Pakistan and the Philippines, all collective in nature. Collectivists often recommend suitable candidates because of their commitment to family and community, giving employers access to a rich database of potential recruits. However, managerial hiring practices are not standardized globally. Religious practices coupled with English as a second language can also affect productivity and profitability if not managed effectively.

What Attendees Will Learn

  • Why Canadian hiring practices sometimes inadvertently ‘screen out’ suitable candidates
  • Effective interview techniques with individualistic and collective cultures
  • Face to face, phone and email: Effective day-to-day communication when English is a second language
  • Workplace conflict resolution across all cultures
  • Death by meeting: How mismanaged global teams waste time and money
  • Non-verbal communication: To shake hands or not to shake hands… that is the question
  • Are we speaking the same language? Constructive feedback across cultures

Virtual Leadership: When Communication, Collaboration and Compassion Intersect

Are issues like these causing stress, fear, confusion, inefficiency, insomnia and productivity in the work from home space?

  • I am lacking focus and motivation while working? How can I make my day more productive, efficient and even energizing?
  • Fear, ambiguity and negative thoughts continually creep into my head. I feel deflated, angry and immense sadness. When should I be concerned if I’m situationally depressed, anxious or both? What can I do to protect the mental health of myself and my family?
  • I do not know how to effectively connect with clients in a virtual environment? Can I still build trust, authenticity and continue to strengthen relationships with clients, customers, suppliers and team members or is everything on hold?
  • Covid-19 feels like a living nightmare. How can I become purposeful, passionate, mindful and meaningful controlling what I can for a stronger and more resilient outcome for all

Why this topic?

With the sudden onset of Covid-19, organizations were forced to pivot, adapt and plunge into uncharted waters while facing overwhelming uncertainty. Despite title, rank or position we are all leaders at work and at home and have the capability to impact, influence and inspire others through intentional actions. Virtual leadership begins with effective communication, collaboration, empathy and understanding. With employees becoming increasingly demotivated and disengaged coupled with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and addiction on the rise be-cause of the pandemic situation, it is imperative to lead with compassion, transparency, integrity and most of all resiliency as we stand together apart.

This is a virtual interactive, ‘hands-on’ inspirational keynote utilizing Zoom where attendees will participate in live polling, group chats, slide shares including videos, morale-boosting activities and Q and A to promote social inclusivity, engagement and unity

Key takeaways

  • Standing Together Apart: How to create respectful, communicative, inclusive, collaborative virtual teams
  • Death by Virtual Meeting: Four key steps to inclusive and effective virtual meetings, virtual sales and virtual social inclusion
  • When Fear Takes Over: How to Actively Listen, Empathize and Empower Others’ Towards a Positive Paradigm
  • Immunizing our Mental Health
  • The Power of Surrendering to Circumstance: Why Letting Go Strengthens Resilience
  • The Transformative Power of Servitude: Why Serving Others Provides Purpose During Difficult Times

Testimonails

”Tina’s keynote, ’50 Shades of Beige: Communicate with the Cross-Cultural Advantage’ was the highest rated at this year’s HR and Leadership Conference. She brought tremendous energy to the conference and engaged the audience throughout the keynote.”

Ron Gauthier CEO
CPHR Manitoba

Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know that I have looked over our 2018 Western Conference on Safety delegate evaluations and I was thrilled to find the reviews of your keynote presentation have been overwhelming positive. So much so that I can say, without reservation, that your keynote presentation was the hit of the conference. Thank you for starting off our day with such an energetic, fun and positive presentation that not only entertained but also educated the audience.

Terry Swain
Conference Chair
2018 Western Conference on Safety

“The standing ovation you received was heartfelt. All I can say is WOW! Your humor is fantastic, which engaged our staff from the moment you set foot on stage. I look forward to working with you in the future!”

Kathy Magee
City of Ottawa

Tina’s keynote presentation was motivating, thought-provoking, funny and from the heart. What made it special was Tina’s ability to engage everyone in the audience.

She is a powerful speaker and absolutely committed to excellence.”

Myrna Buttner Stahl
Director of Member Events and Communications
Certified Professional Accountants of Saskatchewan

It was wonderful to have you with us and your keynote was clearly a great success from what I saw of peoples’ rapt attention and engagement during the session. Thank you for making it abundantly clear why you are an in-demand speaker!

Sue Gauthier
Saskatchewan Veterinary Medical Association

Tina is an electrifying speaker. Her passion is infectious and highly relevant. In just one hour, attendees of various ages and stages of life gained a fresh perspective on the value of work life balance and how simple changes can have long term positive effects mentally, physically and emotionally. Her presentation is impactful, engaging and includes a refreshing dose of humour. She will deliver valuable information in an inspiring and entertaining manner.

Warren Wood, CFA, CFP
Portfolio Manager, Wealth Advisor
BMO Nesbitt Burns

With the aim to continue fostering a happy and healthy workforce, Syncrude’s Women’s Interest Network (WIN) recently sought out Tina Varughese to give employees her presentation on unconscious bias and diversity in the workplace. Over the course of three days, Tina delivered four equally, funny and informative sessions, each met with resounding success.

It was a delight to see how engaged employees were and their genuine desire to better understand and embrace inclusivity. Tina even received unsolicited emails from staff thanking her for teaching something they hadn’t previously thought about or recognized, which clearly demonstrates the value-add she brought to the Syncrude organization.”

Michele Toma
Government & Public Affairs Syncrude Canada Ltd.

Tina Varughese is one of the more dynamic and entertaining speakers on the circuit today.  She gave a presentation on communication with cross cultural advantage at our Feet First symposium.  Our audience was a conglomeration of many different careers impacting swine production from 11 different countries.  Tiny had the attention of the whole group and everyone laughed and left with more knowledge on how to interact with people of many different cultures.  This was a presentation packed with practical examples.  She is very skilled at involving large audiences in the presentation.  She delivers her message with confidence, humor, stories, and excellent visual impact with slides and videos to enhance her message.  Her presentation concluded our symposium and left the audience on a very high note and extremely satisfied with our event.

Mark E. Wilson, Ph.D.
Research and Nutritional Services
Zinpro Corporation

Tina was a pleasure to work with! Her presentation was insightful and fun—she had a room of senior management giggling up a storm.

Her inclusive leadership strategies are accessible and easily to implement, which resonated with our organization.

Her seminar reminded me that leadership and positivity are traits that can be fostered in individuals such as employees and team members, not just management! The impact of this for an organization is significant.

Tina’s cheerful attitude and refreshing approach shaped the mood for the conference and we couldn’t be happier.

Emma Boonstra, Competition Bureau, Government of Canada

Tina is an incredibly engaging, fun and thought provoking speaker. Tina is very polished, yet not afraid to laugh at herself as she keeps her audience engaged and amused as her important message about working within a dynamic multi-cultural environment sinks-in to all of those in attendance  She is a pleasure to work with I would definitely recommend her for any professional function that wants to give their audience simple strategies to tackle the challenges of multi-cultural dynamics.

Paul Salvatore, CLGM
Director, Community Services
Town of Drumheller

“Tina is an engaging, knowledgeable and humorous speaker! Our students who are in the biomedical field learnt a lot from her cross-cultural communication keynote. This is a very relevant topic for our students since they will be coming across different cultures during their careers. I recommend her as a keynote speaker for any healthcare related conference!”

Zenobia Ali
University of Calgary, Cumming School of Medicine

“I LOVED your presentation and could have sat in that conference room all day listening to you. It really shows that you are in your element and love what you do. Thank you for speaking with such passion about a topic that a lot more people need to hear about these days. You were definitely one of the people that automatically felt the drawn to. You have a beautiful soul and posess the energy of a million watt light bulb. Keep up the good work!”

Kevin Robitaille
Bilingual Coordinator Groups
Porter Airlines

What a powerful communicator you are. Truly gifted. I felt truly inspired by your meaningful storytelling. It is through the sharing of voices like yours that radical social change will take hold in the minds of so many people who hold unconscious and conscious bias about humans. I hope we can stay in touch and perhaps one day have another opportunity to build change together.

Mary Jane Maillet Brownscombe
Co-Founder, SHE Day

“You rock! Loved your sense of humour, was so refreshing! It was a great reminder for me to take care of myself”

Christine Tienkamp
CMA, Business Advisor, MNP

Your session was so impactful and you are such a lovely speaker. Working for healthcare has its challenges, and at the core of our values and vision right now is diversity and inclusion. Needless to say, your material resonated with us.

Danielle Towne
Alberta Health Services
HR Advisor

As a Career Practitioner, I attended Tina Varughese’s 50 Shades of Beige Workshop in 2017. Tina provided practical tips for me to implement when I support students and our employers in intercultural settings. This is very much aligned to our Business School’s vision of developing global ready graduates, especially for those wanting a portable career. Tina is an expert in unlocking the potential in relationships and facilitates in a way that empowers, demonstrates respect and engages participants.

Sashie Steenstra
Corporate Relationship Manager
Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria

Thank you again for such an amazing day on Friday. Honestly, the positive comments haven’t stopped and everyone really enjoyed your sessions. You are so extremely talented and amazing at what you do. Thank you again for the honest messages and I learned so much! I hope you got some rest this weekend and I know our paths will cross again.

Have a great day,

Pauline Clark,
Social Planner | Social Planning
City of Airdrie

We so appreciated your professionalism, enthusiasm, and the special care you put into your address for our audience. Thank you for everything you do!

Laura Adams,
Event Coordinator
Girl Guides of Ontario Council

It was such a pleasure to listen to you! You were an inspiration to all the women in attendance – I have never been as moved by a speaker as I was by you. Thank you being inspiring, authentic, and sincere in your honesty.

Danielle Thurgood, CTDP
CAA Club Group of Companies

Tina’s presentation “50 Shades of Beige: Communicate With The Cross-Cultural Advantage” was entertaining, educational, eye-opening and highly engaging. She provided our audience with practical information in an unforgettable way. I would highly recommend Tina!

Deneen Everett
Executive Director | Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce

Tina is an amazing speaker with a wonderful sense of humour.  She provided an interactive keynote presentation for our unconventional conference.  Tina is also a delight to work with behind the scenes and willing to make adjustments to suit the intended audience.  We have had the opportunity to work with Tina at past conferences and we were thrilled to bring her back into the fold.

Shannon Levandosky
Coordinator, Event Management

“Our committee booked Tina for our 2019 CPBI Atlantic Regional Conference in PEI. Tina is so personable! Her delivery is fun and upbeat  and yet she is very relatable and very down to earth. Our group liked the cultural diversity & inclusion component of her session. We also appreciated that she spent the time to get to know our group in advance of her keynote.”

Kelly Lightfoot
Regional Administrator
Canadian Pension and Benefits Institute (CPBI)- Atlantic

“I had that pleasure of attending a conference in Toronto in 2018 in which Tina was the guest key-note. I left the conference thinking, I need to bring her to Fredericton, she is fantastic! I know that anyone who has the opportunity to attend an event that Tina is speaking at will come away with a whole new appreciation of cultural diversity, unconscious bias and the importance of effective cross-cultural communication”

Janet Moser,
Managing Director, Immigration Services,
Ignite Fredericton

The Lafarge Canada Performance Day Seminar in February 2020 had people development at the core of its messaging. A session on EVP (Employee Value Propositioning) saw our guest speaker Tina Varughese address the team on the important  topic of Unconscious Bias and how it can impact the workplace.

Tina brought a fresh, energetic and challenging approach to this topic. Her use of real life examples, life experience and well placed humour was perfectly balanced.  She engaged her audience and delivered a thought provoking message that was well delivered and received.

John McCabe
Vice President, Lafarge Canada

I found this virtual session to be current, relevant and truly inspiring! Tina communicated crucial points. She hits the nail on the head on a personal and professional level for everyone. Highly recommend! Thank-you!

Jon Turton,
Broadview Homes

Thank-you so much Tina! It was a pleasure to have the reminder to breath, exercise and find the fun in Quarantine! You are a fantastic reminder we are all in the same ocean right now and how connecting and understanding is so important to cope with the new reality. Appreciate your contagious joy!

Julie Welchman,
Qualico Group of Companies

Tina’s an engaging speaker! Though remote Tina was able to make me feel that I was right in the room with her. She had me dancing at home, smiling, and totally engaged in the workshop. Highly recommend to any team going through a tough time, needing a boost of energy and life!

Jessica Thomas,
Streetside Calgary

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