Oftentimes when companies (or anyone for that matter) are confronted with the topic of inclusion and diversity, as supportive and in agreeance with the movement as they may genuinely be. They can feel powerless or even at a loss to know how to scratch the surface of such an important and monumental practice.
I would like to recognise that this journey is new to many of us. That means that it will not go without hiccups and bumps along the way. But this also means that with every challenge we are faced with, there will be lessons to be learned. There will be growth in acknowledging perspectives outside of our own experiences, and it will certainly humble us and require us to respect everyone’s individual journey on this path.
Now, as we transition from specifically focusing on Women in CleanTech to Diversity in CleanTech, I’d like to share a bit about myself and my own journey of learning and becoming passionate about ensuring that our workforce is colourful, varied and feels accepted and celebrated in their place of work.
My name is Courtney Schulz, originally from Vancouver, Canada. I am not only a newbie to Europe, I am also a new addition to the team here at Hyperion Executive Search. Filling my role as Recruitment Coordinator for the DACH region. I am experienced in recruitment, though I am a fresh pair of eyes to the Clean Technology industry. My background falls mainly within Indigenous Healthcare and Education.
In order to truly understand my decision of dedicating my work to inclusion and diversity, we’ll need to rewind about 7 years. I was fresh out of high school, with a thirst to travel the world, experience life through different cultural lenses and meet as many people as possible. As an eager and ambitious 18 year old, I set off across the world, leaving everything familiar behind me to experience life “Down Under”. Moving to Australia had been a dream of mine for as long as I could remember, and I instantly fell in love with the backpacker lifestyle. Meeting people from all over the world, learning of different cultures and seeing beautiful sights. But very quickly, an ugly reality started to set in. I began to witness the negative impacts of colonisation and the prejudices and blatant racism I saw directed toward the Australian Aboriginal population. As a naive 18 year old social justice advocate, this was the first time that I was made acutely aware that what I was witnessing was true social injustice. I knew that something needed to be done, but I wasn’t quite sure what or what my role was to play in creating a solution.
Flash forward a couple of years later, a few more countries backpacked under my belt. I’m settled in Christchurch, New Zealand starting off a new and exciting job opportunity as a Recruitment Coordinator with a local health authority. There, I began learning of the cultural competencies we were implementing in our hiring practices, specifically in relation to the indigenous Māori culture. Not only was I learning how to incorporate culturally relevant questions into my candidate screenings and interviews, I was also learning how to attract Māori candidates into healthcare. I began to partake in ritual cultural practices that were very ingrained in the organisation’s culture. For example, standing and introducing ourselves by name and place of birth before most meetings, or attending a mihi whakatau (a welcoming ceremony) with food, and traditional song and speeches to onboard a Māori nurse into the organisation. These cultural practices were frequent and very different than anything I had ever been exposed to. I began to understand that the importance of these cultural practices made for a more inclusive (and interesting might I add) work environment. What better position to be in to ensure inclusion and diversity within an organisation/ industry than a role in recruitment?
The wheels in my head began to turn. How could I have lived in 3 different countries with such similar (and devastating) colonial pasts, yet Canada did not incorporate indigenous culture in the workplace the way New Zealand has. And in Australia I witnessed the most blatant racism thought of. How could this be?
And so I’ve spent the last several years dedicating my career to Canadian First Nations organisations and trying to learn of their culture. I figured if inclusion and diversity is something that I would passionately like to dedicate my life to, then I should probably have some understanding and insight into the root culture of the country I was raised in. I’ve explored indigenous cultures in many parts of the world. And then I thought to myself, if I was going to have insight into the culture of the country that my family immigrated to, it would be necessary to have insight into my own heritage as well.
This has led me to start a new journey in Germany, working in one of the most innovative and important industries of our time. The Clean Technology industry is full of incredibly intelligent, innovative, progressive minds pushing our society to develop new and sustainable ways of living. Yet, for such a forward thinking industry there is such a lack of diversity. This is why I am incredibly excited and motivated to be a part of the Diversity in CleanTech initiative. I’m humbled to be able learn from and share the stories of individuals in the industry who are not typically in the spotlight. I’m looking forward to growing a diverse network within the industry, in hopes of inspiring individuals from all walks of life to participate and share their creative ideas to push this industry even further forward for the sake of the sustainability of our planet.