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Success is ‘Because Of’ not ‘Despite’: Tammy Webster Receives EDI Leader Award

Blog | May 22, 2024 | Share on:

Tammy Webster, Director of Equity at Let’s Talk Science, is among 15 groundbreaking impact-makers chosen for the 2024 Candian Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (CEDI) Awards presented by the Women’s Executive Network (WXN).

Tammy Webster looking at camera and smiling in front of a blurred, outdoor background

For much of my adult life, I have heard, “You’re so successful despite all the challenges you’ve faced, the hardships, the trauma, et cetera,” but I’ve never felt this was true.

My success is because of my upbringing, where challenges taught me values and new perspectives. I learnt that there are many ways to overcome molehills, mountains, and rugged landscapes. While there have been many difficult times, my success lies in my ability to reflect on those moments and understand the different options I could have taken but didn’t.

My success is because of my family: my constant cheerleaders, critics, voice of reason and support systems. Through them, I am reminded of how the past can inform and guide the present and future. 

My success is because of my child and my profound desire to try and lay a path he can walk steadfastly and confidently as he inherits the world—and when I say my final farewell, I will do so knowing that I did everything I could to make a difference for him.

My success is because of passionate, committed leaders and colleagues who want to impact equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility worldwide. Their vision, leadership, and values align with mine, and the work becomes a collaboration between experts who use their gifts.

In winning this award, I know that my success would not have been possible without the many people who have weaved in and out of my life, nourishing, protecting, supporting, and energizing me. My success lies in my roots, value system, and desire to build a better world than that of my mother’s childhood. It does not come from some innate stretch or fortitude (which is how success is often attributed to women), but rather, my success emerges as the result of my life lessons, connections, and hard-earned character.

Equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility have been a part of life for centuries. However, it is only in our most recent history that EDIA has become more prevalent in our mainstream culture. More companies, organizations, and education institutes are aware of EDIA principles and are finding ways to embed them as good practices. As a former elementary educator, I witnessed the value of diversity in the classroom for students, staff, families, and myself. The range of racial, neurodivergence, physical, religious, economic, and gender differences all led to deeper understanding and learning for all. However, the Canadian K-12 system is slow-moving in its endeavour to adopt EDIA principles throughout the organization. There is still a disproportionate lack of representation for equity-deserving groups in leadership roles, while curriculum and lessons also lag.

In my current role as the inaugural Director of Equity at Let’s Talk Science, I am charged with embedding EDIA across our organization, which impacts the delivery of our resources and, ultimately, impacts the children, youth, and educators across Canada. From day one at Let’s Talk Science, we have had a data-informed approach to embedding EDIA – whether that be the early days of collaboration with First Nations people, the enduring relationships and partnerships with Imhotep’s Legacy Academy, BGC Canada, Canadian Black Scientist Network, and the First Nations Education Administrators Association, to name a few, to a fully drafted Equity Plan with tangible, achievable and ambitious actions to the newly developed Indigenous Reconciliation Strategy.

The success of EDIA at Let’s Talk Science is because of the commitment, dedication and vision of the leadership team, the staff, and the volunteers. As I continue my work in EDIA with Let’s Talk Science, I look forward to building a more equitable future by working with others, learning from our mistakes, and overcoming the obstacles in our paths. I know any future success I encounter will always be because of the challenges I face, never despite them.