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Episode 08 - “Otherwise Good People” in Workplace Discrimination, with Shanaaz Gokool

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“Systemic discrimination makes a lot of good people, 'Otherwise Good People', the talented people I work with – members, donors, supporters of the organization – through no fault of their own, complicit in discriminatory behavior and practices. That's how insidious this is.”

In this episode, Shanaaz Gokool, human rights activist and former CEO, courageously shares her personal story of discrimination, and gives practical ways that we can effect change.

In this episode

We talk about:

  • How failing to share power, leads to failure of governance

  • Two things that are necessary for racism to continue (i.e. what not to do)

  • What happens when “Otherwise Good People” try to avoid taking sides (hint – there’s no such thing)

  • Why anti-discrimination is the Board of Directors’ responsibility, not just HR’s; and what Boards can do differently

  • The kind of discrimination story we need right now

  • Three tips for victims of workplace discrimination

Guest bio and references:

Shanaaz Gokool is a life-long human rights activist and non-profit discrimination disruptor. She has been inspired to do social justice work primarily because of the rampant racism she experienced and witnessed growing up in Halifax-Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

She has held leadership roles in the private and non-profit sectors and is an emerging governance expert on workplace discrimination.

As the former CEO of Dying With Dignity Canada (DWDC), she ushered in a new national movement supporting assisted dying and other end-of-life issues re-framed as human rights issues. Under her leadership, DWDC emerged as a key player in Canada on assisted dying.

She currently has a wrongful dismissal, systemic racism and discrimination lawsuit pending against her former employer.

You can contact and follow her on LinkedIn:

Links to Shanaaz's legal filings:

Employee's Statement of Claim

Employer's Defence

Employee's reply to Employer

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Episode Transcript

Please note: the transcripts attempt to stay true to the essence of each conversation, while maintaining clarity and readability. As a result, certain "filler" words, and nuances of tone, emotion and emphasis will be missing.


If you're able, you're strongly encouraged to listen to the audio podcast. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human editors, and may contain errors.

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Music Credits for this Episode

Intro Music:

What Words Can't Describe, by Vlad Gluschenko

License: CC BY 3.0:

Outro Music:

Beautiful Modern Rock Pop Guitar All Goodness Background Music, by Royalty Free Music

License: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0:

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