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Instructor Spotlight ‑ Crystal Taylor

Posted by Darcy MacPhail on April 22, 2024

Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Open Learning & Career Development is very excited to bring you the newest installment in our ongoing Instructor Spotlight series.

We want to congratulate Crystal Taylor – a highly respected consultant, facilitator, diversity strategist and valued content creator and instructor in our Adult Education and Equity, Diversity & Inclusion programs who was named one of Atlantic Canada's 25 Most Powerful Women in Business. This is the fourth year that this accolade has been given by Atlantic Business Magazine. “This was not only a reminder of the work and the people that I have had the privilege to work with over the years, but also the progress that has been made within the EDIA space. I am very confident that we will continue to witness more women breaking barriers and moving into more leadership positions,” she says.

Crystal’s career has spanned 40 years in both provincial and federal  governments and post-secondary education. As equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility (EDIA) have become a priority in governments, labour markets, and educational institutions, she has been at the forefront and established her own consulting company in 1996 – Ebony Consulting. Her knowledge and expertise have been of tremendous value to her clients.

Let’s get to know this trailblazer even better, as she answers these questions:

1) What has been the biggest change in your field in recent years?

I have witnessed a lot over the years — the good, bad and the ugly. Today, it is safe to say that I have noticed an increased demand in services related to EDIA. Diversity and inclusion have emerged as key values and business priorities for every industry sector and organization. Similarly, the topics of diversity and inclusion have become more mainstream among Canadians, and there has been a widening recognition of the importance of ensuring that our society nurtures and supports respectful and inclusive environments that are free from all forms of discrimination.

We should not ignore the fact that the world was shaken in 2020 when there was a wake-up call for the re-examination of EDI and anti-racism. Many organizations were forced to pause and reckon with the global outcry for racial justice after the murder of George Floyd. Also, the long-standing inequities embedded within systems/structures were elevated into the spotlight as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This moment not only ignited an awakening but also reinforced an urgency for systemic change and increased focus on organizational EDIA.

As a result of these changes, managers and employees have found themselves in the midst of a paradigm shift where they have been faced with increasingly changing demographics —globalization, innovation, immigration, competition, war on talent, technological changes, AI, evolving modes of communication and so on —  all demanding new and innovative methods of thinking and working in diverse organizations.

2) What's the most surprising thing we might see on your resume/CV?

Wow!  This is a great question. Considering where my career is today, some may be surprised to learn that I played a significant role in the establishment of Women Unlimited in Cape Breton. My dedication and skills in promoting and advancing EDI was further revealed in my work with the Sydney Tar Ponds and Coke Oven’s Remediation Project (STPCORP). In this role, I was responsible for providing HR specialist support to the Senior Executive Team in fulfilling their mandate as it related to the management of a $400 million dollar initiative to clean up one of Canada's largest contaminated sites. I developed a business case to present the economic benefits of creating training and employment opportunities for diverse groups (African Nova Scotians, Indigenous, People with disabilities and Women) throughout Cape Breton. This included the development of training and development opportunities for these marginalized communities.

As part of this role, I am proud to have influenced a movement in Cape Breton where women were offered opportunities that allowed them to gain confidence to pursue careers in trades and technology. Through my leadership, coaching, guidance, and advice, the lives of many women in Cape Breton have been changed through various initiatives.

3) How do you unwind?

As a workaholic, I have to admit that this is a difficult question for me. To be perfectly honest, if and when I do allow myself to unwind, I find myself in my garden.  While I am not great at it and I wouldn't say that I have much of a green thumb, I do enjoy the pleasure of gardening. True joy comes along with digging in the soil and watching new beginnings and growth. As I sit with nature in my garden, I find time to relax and meditate.

4) What's the best aspect of teaching with the Faculty?

Everything! I started teaching with the Faculty back in 1996 when the Certificate in Adult Education began.  When I consider my years of working with the Faculty, I am filled with gratitude and appreciation.  In terms of staff, it has been a pleasure to work with a group of professionals who share in their passion and commitment to creating inclusive and respectful work and learning environments. They pride themselves on hard work and dedication to a common focus on students and making every effort to ensure student success.  This common theme, directed toward students and their success sparks a collective energy, passion and purpose.  I am so impressed to see how the Faculty has worked over the years to meet the learning and development needs of an increasingly diverse society. It’s been a privilege to be a small part of the Faculty's success.