By Zaman Velji, Victoria Foundation Board Member
Zaman is a Senior Portfolio Manager with the Infrastructure & Renewable Resources team at the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI). As the team’s lead on asset management, he focuses on the oversight and governance of a global investment portfolio, and serves on various corporate boards. He is also a strategic thought leader on topics such as disruptive technologies and innovation. Previously, Zaman was a consultant with McKinsey & Company, where he worked with institutional investors, including pension funds and endowments. He also worked in international development and diplomacy with the Aga Khan Development Network. Zaman holds a BA in Government and a BSc in Operations Research & Industrial Engineering from Cornell University, and an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Along with his wife and two children, Zaman feels proud and blessed to call Victoria home.
Diversity is a source of strength for our community. This is a truism, no doubt. Actually, harnessing diversity as a strength – realizing its full potential – is less straightforward. Inclusion is imperative. And advancing inclusion is not easy work. Diversity’s mere presence and elevation by no means assures it.
At the Victoria Foundation, we are trying to lead by example. Our Reconciliation Taskforce is renewing and redoubling the Foundation’s efforts to recognize and bridge the tragedies of the past and find inclusive ways forward, including reassessing our internal policies and practices in support of reconciliation, and strengthening relationships with First Nations in a spirit of healing and equal partnership. The Racial Equity and Reconciliation Fund addresses ongoing and systemic issues by reducing barriers to funding, deepening outreach, and evolving anti-racism strategies to better reflect, represent and work together with all communities. Our Gender Equity Fund strives to enable the cultural, economic, and political changes required to make gender equity a reality. We are also building strong, diverse Boards and committees amongst our partner organizations, better representing our community. These are just a few examples.
In all this, we recognize that genuine diversity and inclusion spans beyond race and gender to real and urgent concerns relating to cognitive and physical disabilities, sexual orientation, economic background and other sources of disparity. In this issue of Vital Signs, we feature guest writers who play leading roles in our community by supporting and amplifying the voices of Indigenous, Black and other racialized people.
I am grateful to Brishti Basu, Macayla Yan, Dr. Fred Chou, and Charla Huber for sharing their powerful voices, their important ideas, and their visions for a future that is more equitable, more just, and more inclusive. The concepts of code switching, anti-racism and equitable storytelling might be new to you, or you might find yourself nodding along, recognizing your own experience in their words. Whatever your background and experience, there is ambition in each of these pieces that can stir us all to urgent action. The Victoria Foundation will continue this bold work – please join us.