Mother, businesswoman and teacher, Gabby Zuniga founded Inclusive Kind, a consultancy practice that helps individuals and organisations achieve diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We spoke to Gabby to find out what inspired her to leave her full-time job to embark on the adventure of starting her own business.
1. Hi Gabby, tell us about your story so far.
My family came to Canada as refugees when I was eight years old, so we had to make a new life here. A lot of people think I pass as Canadian, but I’ve actually had to straddle two worlds - I’m not quite Chilean enough for my family and I’m not quite Canadian enough to fit in here. I’m also a mum, which is the hardest but most rewarding job I have. And I’m a business owner - I started that adventure about a year ago.
2. Why did you launch Inclusive Kind – what was your aim?
Inclusive Kind is a small consulting practice that helps organisations with their diversity and inclusion initiatives. We’ll work with organisations at any point in their EDI journey to help them progress. I have clients who are just starting out on their journey and are exploring new ideas, and I have others who are further along and are looking for innovative ways to keep things moving forward. I also teach a university course called Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace.
3. What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career so far?
I'd been working for large corporate organisations for about 25 years, so I always had a lot of opportunity to learn and grow. I thought I would always have a job where I could get promoted and continue progressing. But once COVID hit and I had my second child, I started to think about what I really wanted in life and all I knew was that it had to be meaningful. So I made the difficult decision to leave a really great job and step completely outside of my comfort zone. The itch to do something new was just too strong. I had to explore it.
4. How did you know you were ready to make that jump?
It feels like so many of us are waiting for the approval of someone else. While looking for the next step at work, I was always waiting to be recognised for what I had already achieved. But I realised I put too much of my life in other people’s hands. So I flipped that story and picked myself instead.
5. Why do you think it's important for workplaces and organisations to have DE&I initiatives in place?
I think it circles back to the idea that workplaces were designed by the dominant group. For example, in Canada the dominant group is white men, so they designed a workplace that fits them. I’m a big believer in the idea that if you can see it, you can become it. So representation really matters. I also think it’s important that all organisations recognize that innovative ideas come in all different packages. If they miss that because they're too focused on people assimilating and being a certain way, they’re missing so much opportunity for growth in our world.