Thank you for Participating in Pink Shirt Day at the VPFO

Last year, Building Operations came together to host a series of conversations about respect in the workplace, which they capped with a department-wide celebration of Pink Shirt Day — an annual Canada-wide event symbolizing respect for the diversity of people and expression.

The effort to come together and have open conversations is something I strongly support. I believe that our portfolio’s greatest opportunity is to continue to find the common ground between each other; between our roles, between our units, between us and the academy we serve.

Respect can be a bit abstract. As one of the 5 values enshrined in UBC’s strategic plan, we’ve defined respect as the regard felt or shown towards different people, ideas, or actions. But respect is truly as much an action as it is a feeling. Each of us, as individuals taking action, can achieve the kind of workplace we want.

We have the power to make a difference. We have the power to choose our reaction to stressful situations. We have the power to respectfully point out when someone has been disrespectful to us. We have the power to be curious about others instead of frustrated or angry. We have the power to apologize when we say something we wish we hadn’t. We have power to seek amicable resolutions.

So today, I want to thank you for helping us all take our first step forward. Thank you to everyone who is wearing pink to show support. Thank you to the many people who hosted today’s event. Thank you to everyone who stopped by, even if just for a few minutes, and those who kept our operations running so others could attend. And especially thank you to those of who came forward to speak about respect on camera.

While Pink Shirt Day is important for its own reflections, it also is a place where I would like to mark a new beginning. I’ve asked our portfolio’s senior leadership to strike a committee across the VPFO that will create an overarching strategy for a focus on respect, diversity, and inclusion within VPFO for the next several years. They will work to keep us aligned to our vision and our values and to identify our best opportunities to create our best workplace.

Thank you again for your participation today and your ongoing contributions to make our workplace a better and more respectful one.