Governance Series in Equity and Inclusive Practices for Opera Company Board Members

With Alden E. Habacon

Alden E. Habacon


Registration is now open.

Association for Opera in Canada is pleased to partner with Alden E. Habacon on the delivery of a three-part series in Equity and Inclusive Practices for Opera Company Board Members in 2021/22.

The objectives of the Governance Series are to:

  1. Establish a common literacy of inclusion and inclusive workplace traits;
  2. Equip board members with practical tools for a more strategic and stage-by-stage approach for achieving inclusivity and disrupting implicit bias in the workplace, by mapping the journey towards Inclusive Excellence, identifying how and where to begin, and what to avoid;
  3. Establish a basic understanding of cognitive biases and how they can negatively impact decision-making and the psychological health and safety of others; and
  4. Provide practical tactics and a strategic framework for disrupting implicit bias.

The program comprises three modules:

  1. Board Readiness and Inclusion Literacy (a technical understanding of when people actually feel included, and how implicit bias reduces inclusion);
  2. Understanding and Disrupting Unconscious Bias; and
  3. Strategies for Diverse Recruitment for the Board.

The training will be delivered in cohorts according to the following schedule:

Registration is now open.

Cohort 1

  • Friday, October 1 from 11am-1:30pm (All times are Eastern and include a 30-min break)
  • Friday, October 8 from 11am-1:30pm
  • Friday, October 15 from 11am-1:30pm

Cohort 2

  • Friday, November 5 from 11am-1:30pm
  • Friday, November 12 from 11am-1:30pm
  • Friday, November 19 from 11am-1:30pm

Cohort 3

  • Friday Jan 21 from 11am-1:30pm
  • Friday Jan 28 from 11am-1:30pm
  • Friday Feb 4 from 11am-1:30pm

The content of this program is described in more detail below. All of the above will be facilitated using Zoom video conferencing and break out rooms, polls and interactive tools, and presented using

Detailed Session Descriptions:

1. Board Readiness and Inclusion Literacy

(120-min interactive webinar)

1st cohort: October 1, 2021 / 2nd cohort: November 5, 2021 / 3rd cohort: January 21, 2022

This module is specifically designed to prepare the Board for the EDI journey. This particular module will be more discussion-based to identify what barriers the Board faces that bar them from being aligned with the corporate commitment to EDI. What are the potential EDI fears that the Board is experiencing that makes them hesitate in embarking on the journey?

By identifying the level of board readiness, this will foster the necessary confidence members will need in order to support the executive and senior leadership to take charge of this overall effort.

This module is focused on:

  1. Establishing a connection and building a sense of comfort with the Board;
  2. Framing the conversation around EDI as a means to achieving their existing aspirations for the board and the industry;
  3. Establishing a basic literacy around race and racism, systemic racism, and colonialism;
  4. Establishing a basic literacy around diversity and inclusive excellence;
  5. Providing a common understanding of the journey towards inclusive excellence; and
  6. Developing a Diversity & Inclusion statement

Board members will examine the different kinds of diversity, the business case (or business imperative) for a more inclusive board culture, and also explore the organizational stage-by-stage process towards fostering an environment where people with profound differences thrive. Participants will determine where they are in the journey, what business outcomes are most relevant and the kind of organizational mindset they aspire to establish as leaders. This module explores the most recent report by Deloitte on when employees feel included, and provides a research-based framework around inclusive leadership.

2. Understanding and Disrupting Unconscious Bias

(120-minute interactive webinar)

1st cohort: October 8, 2021 / 2nd cohort: November 12, 2021 / 3rd cohort: January 28, 2022

This dynamic presentation establishes a foundational understanding of how biases are formed in our unconscious, how biases affect leaders and decision-making, and will focus on bringing awareness to the “oblivious nature” of those who hold bias (that our biases are invisible to us, but visible to others).

This module will explore when decision-makers are most vulnerable to bias, and address the stigma associated with cognitive bias.

In an effort to foster a basic level of literacy of bias, this module will further explore the impact of the following five generic and three gender-specific biases (listed below) and how they impact recruitment, advancement, and day-to-day behaviour (that can sometimes result in microaggressions) in a board and workplace environment.

Generic forms of implicit bias:

  1. Affinity Bias;
  2. Confirmation Bias;
  3. Social Comparison Bias;
  4. Attribution Error; and
  5. Distance Bias.

Gender biases:

  1. Performance Bias;
  2. Competency-Likeability Trade-off Bias;
  3. Maternal Bias.

In advance of the session, participants are invited to take at least two Harvard Implicit Association Tests (IATs). Instructions for the pre-work can be found at the following link:

The closing content is focused on the role of the Board in implementing structural solutions to unconscious bias.

3. Strategies for Diverse Recruitment for the Board

(120-minute interactive webinar)

1st cohort: October 15, 2021 / 2nd cohort: November 19, 2021 / 3rd cohort: February 4, 2022

This engaging and interactive session provides a frank conversation about the complex difficulties of diversifying the board, the complex difficulties of disrupting bias in a group decision-making setting and is focused on building a common understanding of how to disrupt unconscious bias in a way that is most effective and appropriate to the progressive stages along the inclusion journey and the recruitment pathways.

This engagement will include tactics for the following levels:

  1. Personal and social level;
  2. Procedural and systems level; and
  3. at the Structural level.

Throughout the workshop, participants will be broken out into Breakout Rooms on Zoom, in groups of no more than four. Facilitation will be provided to encourage an enriched conversation. Audio recordings of the above engagements will be provided as follow-up.

Consultant & Facilitator Bio

Alden E. Habacon

Diversity & Inclusion Strategist

Principal, Inclusive Excellence Strategy Solutions Inc.

Alden E. Habacon is one of Canada’s leading diversity and inclusion strategists and facilitators. He is well known in this field and highly regarded for his over fifteen years of impact, and his innovative work around inclusive leadership, unconscious bias and intercultural training. He works with leadership in a wide range of professions and sectors throughout Canada, including the legal community, social services, the public sector, municipalities, first responders, and large private corporations.

Over the last few years he has delivered professional development to faculty and staff in almost every public university in British Columbia and currently works with many universities across Canada, the US and Hong Kong. He is currently a Visiting Diversity Professional at the University of Delaware.

Alden has recently delivered inclusion and unconscious bias training to the executive of British Columbia’s public sector, comprising over 150 Deputy Ministers and Assistant Deputy Ministers. He has developed and delivered training to the Senior Executive Team at Best Buy Canada; Senior Leadership at Arc’Teryx (Amer Sports Inc.) and Chanel Canada; and numerous boards.

He led the national diversity strategy for the CBC Television Network, and has been lecturing at the UBC Graduate School of Journalism on diversity in media for the last twelve years. In 2010 he was appointed by UBC, to lead the University’s commitment to intercultural understanding, where he was the Director, Intercultural Understanding until the end of 2015, and Senior Advisor, Intercultural Understanding from 2016 to 2017.

He is the recipient of the 2010 Power of Peace Award of the YMCA of Greater Vancouver, and the 2011 Leadership Honouree, in the area of Arts and Media, of the North American Association of Asian Professionals (NAAAP) of Vancouver. In 2012 Alden was the recipient of the Maharlika Award in Leadership, and is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal Award for his work in multiculturalism and intercultural understanding.

Alden has lived in Manila, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Regina and Burnaby (in that order), and currently resides in Vancouver with his spouse and two sons.