Iharkachen noticed that the mere act of inclusion and coffee seemed to make the differences that bound less restrictive and the recognition of our similarities, freeing.
With a Masters in Architecture in Brussels, Belgium, work in Dubai, corporate positions around the globe, her story is full and involving, bringing unique experience and enthusiasm to McCormack where it might have otherwise gone unnoticed. Her understanding of the differences and the diversity we face every day need not be a negative, but can be made into a positive.
“Where do I start?” Iharkachen says
“I’m a minority on so many levels,” she laughs with the tone of someone who has heard it all. “But I wanted to do something about the culture, about our people. That by enjoying our work we can have a better working environment and [as a result for the business] be more productive.”
“I’m a project manager; I’m very involved in business development, in bringing in new business. While there is diversity in our workplace, sometimes even the simple difference between head office and construction teams can feel worlds apart.”
“I wanted to remind everyone we’re all equal, so I made it clear that this is not a management thing, but a people thing. But on a company level, this is something that can be harnessed for higher retention and happier staff. Lauren (McCormack) and the Directors were so supportive.”
From a few morning teas with an educational awareness element thrown in, the initiative grew and changed. The social aspect became important, and the inclusion of everyone’s background, ethnicity, sexuality, culture, differences and similarities became the focus. “About the people, “she adds. And from there, The Bridge was born.
“There are so many things to celebrate. So we started a magazine to fit it all in,” says Iharkachen.
Beginning with an acknowledgement of the land, The Bridge takes in, among other topics, the celebration of cultures and religions and talks about the importance of mental health. There’s a social calendar focusing on team members to shed light on quiet achievers. There’s a human view to appreciate the random acts of kindness that sometimes go unnoticed and an honouring of our heroes.
“We’re all heroes because the world is short-staffed,” says Iharkachen, without a hint of sentimentality or mawkishness, just an authentic earnestness gained through experience and personal development.
“Be kind. It’s free,” she ends with a throwaway line that says it all.
What better way to end a story?