The role of a Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Coordinator first came to the IWK just over ten years ago and originally acted as the implementor of the IWK’s D&I strategy. What began as a temporary job quickly became a full-time role as we realized just how much work there was to be done in the area. Tyro Setlhong has held this position ever since and while she has in-depth and thorough knowledge, understanding and experience in D&I, she is the first to admit that no one is ever done learning when it comes to people’s differences.
“D&I is beyond race-relations,” Setlhong explains. “It’s understanding our many layers of differences so to help the people that we serve and those we work with to feel included. In doing this, they can then meaningfully participate with respect and a sense of belonging.”
Setlhong first moved to Halifax from Botswana to study Health Promotion at Dalhousie University. She decided to settle in Nova Scotia and worked with the African Diaspora Association of the Maritimes (ADAM) before joining the IWK as D&I Coordinator. “With that immigrant lens, as well as my experience, I felt that this position was really a great fit for me.”
“One of the core pieces of Health Promotion is the social determinates of health, and social inclusion is recognized as one of the key social determinants of ‘health’,” Setlhong explains. “D&I is the consideration of race and culture as it intersects with those social determinants.”
Setlhong is currently studying for her Master’s in Public Administration with the intention of furthering her understanding of the social politics in D&I. “We are in the Black Lives Matter movement and I want to know how the policies at the provincial or federal level are impacting decision making in our communities and how can we leverage those policies to better serve our diverse populations.”
“Sometimes we go through challenging times as D&I, right now is one those challenging times. As the face of D&I for the IWK, and being a black person, this has also been a challenging time for me personally. It has been heartwarming how many of my co-workers have reached out with support. I wish, and hope, for all those in a minority group to experience the same welcoming and warm support.”
Setlhong says there is still lots of work to be done in the area of equity, diversity and inclusion and is always welcoming new ideas on how to grow the role. “I always say we need to preach inclusion before we preach diversity in moving towards equity.” Setlhong says that becoming a more inclusive organization naturally increases attractiveness towards diverse groups of employee and patients once they see that they belong here.
“I love my job. I love what I do and being able to sit down with people to explore those cultural pieces that build on our social thinking. I get to work with people of all kinds of backgrounds and cultures, and I too am constantly learning in order to better understand people.”
D&I is currently providing virtual Cultural Diversity training. If you would like to learn more, or book a training session for your team, contact Tyro Setlhong.