“I know the feeling of not being included in a conversation”, says Allen Lee, a Medical Laboratory Technologist making big strides in furthering diversity and inclusivity efforts at Kelowna General Hospital’s (KGH) Laboratory. Allen immigrated to Canada when he was only 14 years old, encountering firsthand the many challenges of assimilating into a foreign culture. Now, as part of an Employee Voices Advisory Group (EVAG) at Interior Health, he does more than lend a listening ear to his coworkers; he writes and shares their authentic stories!
Although he enjoyed working with his team, Allen noted there were at times missing connections between knowing coworkers personally. He helped bridge this gap by giving life to the “In Focus” initiative: a lighthearted and informational series of Q&A style pieces written to articulate the richness of his coworkers’ cultures and diverse backgrounds.
One of Allen’s In Focus guest stars features Musarrat Abbass, a Medical Lab Assistant at KGH, affectionately nicknamed a gentle giant. He travelled across the globe from Pakistan to pursue a career in Canada’s health care industry. As Musarrat explains his lab work, one need only look at the jubilance on his face to know that Allen’s article made him feel seen, heard and valued. That, and it was the perfect opportunity for the Pakistani-born-and-raised lab assistant to divulge the details of his home country’s exquisite local cuisine of meats, rice and spices.
As Kelowna’s demographic makeup evolved, Allen knew it was important to parallel those changes in his workplace. He found strong support for his inclusivity efforts in his manager, Kendra Soukeroff, the Professional Practice Leader of the Medical Laboratory at KGH. Kendra acknowledged the importance of being empathetic in one’s professional relationships, noting how it transforms the work environment into a happy place.
The Kelowna General Hospital Medical Laboratory department demonstrates a commitment to inclusion and celebrating diversity, especially in times when traditionally underrepresented groups continue struggling to feel a sense of community in their workplace. As Allen mentions, this is only the beginning, with a lot more room to grow diversity and inclusivity initiatives at Interior Health.
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