Mueni Mutinda turns IABC board attention to Equity & Inclusivity
For IABC Board Member Mueni Mutinda, work has only just begun for organizations moving toward diversity, equity, and inclusion practices.
The DEI Vice President with IABC Maritime is focused on education, raising awareness and proper recourse to address racial, gender, sexuality, and other similar issues in the workforce.
“These concepts of engaging and seeing each other have always been important, with the end goal of unencumbered freedom and self actualization for every human being. Recent public events have pushed new energy and attention to these matters, and they’re a hot topic nowadays,” said Mutinda.
“Companies and organizations across sectors, government, and other areas are talking about this. It seems almost mainstream now, but key questions to each of us remain: What is my own relationship to these themes? Who am I in the context of these themes? How did I become who I am?”
Having diverse representation in the workplace provides vast benefits, and Mutinda is working to drive those home with the IABC board.
“This is what we mean when we talk about bringing an intersectional lens to everything we do, and to the way we show up in the world. Working in this way helps us recognize and acknowledge that we uniquely differ one from the other through our upbringing, education, abilities, personality, competence, interests, preferences, and much more, and our shared humanity goes far any difference we see” she said.
“Beyond a box-ticking exercise, working, sharing, and engaging with those who bring diverse experiences, educational paths, socioeconomic classes, ages, personalities, etc. is central to our journey of co-creating innovative, appropriate and transformational solutions that are inclusive and safeguard all aspects of life on our planet. Our ability to address the collective human challenges we are facing in our time will be determined by our level of awareness and active commitment to inclusive ways of working and being.”
Mutinda – born in Kenya and raised in the Maritimes – has very personal reasons for wanting to be involved in this line of work.
“The memory of a shirtless girl with tears streaming down her cheeks, is eternally etched in memory. I have over the years wondered how she came to be alone, crying on the road? What kind of social, economic, environmental challenges created this situation that left her to fend for herself?” she said.
“Through the work of equity, diversity, and inclusion, we seek to tune into ourselves, first to listen and understand the dissonance within, so we can learn how to heal it. Through this we gain the capacity to extend grace and care to the pain of others, to move toward liberation.”
Mutinda says it's important that entities are now acknowledging a desire to do the work and devote the resources needed for equity and inclusion. She hopes the willingness is genuine.
“This work truly begins at the personal level with deep, courageous reflection, first to explore our own understanding of our relationship with these themes, and second, the ways in which these themes have and continue to diminish the human spirit of those who have been othered in society, as two sides of the same coin. It is worthwhile to think about what we think about when it comes to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. By tuning in and realizing that our autopilot thoughts are biased, and that a disruption is necessary, we can begin to see, without judgement, the human pain and barriers that a system that privileges some in society, causes, and that ultimately, all of humanity pays when the potential of some people is cut short and sacrificed for others,” she said.
What comes next is the question: how do we help to heal the historical, systemic and structural pain of those our family members, neighbors, colleagues and wider community? This is a long game, and not a sprint so change won’t happen overnight It means we commit to staying curious and open along this journey. We will make mistakes because we are human.”
However, for Mutinda it's how we rebound from those mistakes that will truly be the difference maker.
“We grow and learn when we understand how to get back up, how to receive feedback that may be difficult, how to hold space and practice courage in difficult conversations, and how to extend grace to ourselves and others in all this. Like any marathoner, pace and consistency in the course is key. None of this will be comfortable. In fact, we might as well get used to the fact that it will unsettle us. It will unhinge us, and a good thing too, because comfort is synonymous with resistance and rigidity to growth,” she said.
“We learn we are part of the broader society, and that our thoughts, words and behaviours have implications for each other, and because of that, our individual and collective wellbeing is intertwined by virtual of our shared humanity and the nature of our community. In this way, every day becomes an opportunity to choose inclusion. Every day becomes an opportunity to be intentional in extending our hearts and our lives to those in our circles and beyond, to get to know them and allow ourselves to be known as we engage in co-creating new realities together.”
Mutinda has taken on this work, discovered what she loves, and chosen to work toward creating safer,more diverse, and more equitable workplaces for all.
“My passion is for meaningful and authentic relationship that is based on true recognition and love of the self, and all peoples,” she said.
“To me, working toward social justice means engaging a self aware or conscious equality approach that sees, first and foremost, the sanctity of all human life. We are here to create room for all human beings on this planet to feel safe, to feel welcome and to be who they are. Beyond thinking we are good people; this is how we become better people. This, according to Dr. Jana, is what it means to be culturally fluent.”
Through her role at IABC, she hopes to invite the board, businesses and members across the Maritimes to intentionally begin their individual equity and inclusion introspection as a first and necessary step toward meaningful and authentic conversations.
“I am committed to helping us explore with grace and care, what has allowed us to remain ignorant about interrupting individual and systemic injustice and inequity until now,” she said.
“We will bring courage and grace to create space for psychological safety so we can explore our own individual biases, perceptions and behaviors, and the ways in which these have been shaped by the systems within which we exist. To this end it will be necessary to take off the masks we all wear – the ones we have confused for who we really are, so we can live into our true genius, and thereby give others permission to do the same.”
Mueni Mutinda had this conversation with Jordan Parker, Founder, Parker PR and Director of Communications & Newsletter for IABC Maritime.