The LRC Concourse at North Campus was filled with students and community members last Thursday evening as Humber hosted several notable speakers for a panel discussion on The Future of Leadership: Authenticity and Diversity.

IGNITE Vice-Presidents Jeremy Largo-Afonso and Graham Budgeon encouraged students to take full advantage of the evening. “This is an opportunity to share stories and make meaningful connections with one another,” Budgeon told the audience.

Keynote speaker Joze Piranian, a TEDx and Goalcast motivational speaker on diversity and inclusion, opened the evening by speaking about his experience growing up with a severe stutter. He likened an inability to act out of fear to a kind of stutter. “Every time we succumb to our stutter, we shrink our destiny by stripping away countless possibilities,” he said.

Panel moderator Raeshelle Morris, Manager of the Centre for Entrepreneurship, encouraged attendees to participate in the interactive discussion with panelists Daniel Francavilla, founder and Creative Director at Now Creative Group; Karen Craggs-Milne, CEO of Conscious Equality and leading global gender equality, diversity and inclusion expert; Teca Cameron-Tackie, business consultant and coach; and Luki Danukarjanto, author and career coach. The hour-long dialogue touched on defining leadership, remaining authentic to oneself in the workplace, remaining true to oneself in success, and cultivating leadership qualities.

The audience took the call to participate to heart. Audience members asked how to tell when a workplace isn’t a good fit, and how to deal with passive-aggressive behaviour from superiors or colleagues. Professor Meena Dowlwani asked the panelists to address how students with physical differences can stand out in the workplace. “The burden isn’t on the individual,” said Craggs-Milne. “Let’s get over this narrative. We aren’t doing anyone any favours. People have the right to feel seen and heard and valued.”

“I view you all as future leaders,” said Morris, in her closing remarks to the crowd. “You’re going to have to have the courage to go into organizations and make real transformational changes. In a leadership capacity, you’ll have the ability to influence decisions, stand in that power,” she said. “when we start to be more mindful of everyone and their value, then we will be able to create organizations where everyone can succeed and feel comfortable.”

Afterward, participants gathered at small tables for deeper discussion on equity and inclusion; vulnerability and courage; mental health and burnout; leadership and entrepreneurial mindset.