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The Challenge of Identifying Privilege

By Stephania Varalli, Co-CEO, Women of Influence

Are you privileged? It’s a question I don’t think we ask ourselves often enough. And when we do, I don’t think we always answer it honestly. Or maybe “knowingly” is the more appropriate term. In the same way that unconscious bias impacts how we judge individuals, it can be just as challenging to hold an unbiased view of ourselves.

The problem is the limit of our personal experience. In order to truly understand our own privilege, we need to be aware not only of our personal disadvantages and advantages, but how we fare relative to others.

Which is why you need to watch this video. Created by Buzzfeed, the poignant message will have you contemplating privilege in a whole new context.

It certainly had me thinking more about the work we do at Women of Influence. We have spent 24 years dedicated to helping women advance in the workplace, and I’m proud to now be a part of that effort. But I also see where we may be falling short. We’ve had members of our community challenge us to include a broader representation of women—and we have made it a goal to become more inclusive with who we feature in our stories, and who we invite to the podium for our events. There is an unfortunate lack of diversity in the top levels of business that makes this challenging (take our hometown, for example: a 2014 report by the Diversity Institute at Ryerson University states that among Toronto’s corporate leadership, only 4.5% are women from visible minorities). We know that only means we need to work harder, and become a driver for needed change. We are proud to work with sponsors and feature role models who wholeheartedly agree with that direction.

We are dedicated to the career advancement of all women. We want to give a platform to female role models with diverse backgrounds. And we are always open to suggestions, so get in touch if you know a senior corporate leader or successful entrepreneur that we should know about.

If you want to try this same experiment, the questions are listed on the original Buzzfeed post.