The EdSmart team is an incredibly diverse bunch who embrace their differences to work better together. First hearing about A Taste of Harmony several years ago, for Fiona it was a no-brainer to take part, and to this day it remains a popular occasion on the EdSmart workplace calendar.
In 2021, while in the middle of a pandemic, there was the new challenge of how to take part in this much loved event. For Fiona’s team, A Taste of Harmony fell into a period of time when some workers were back in the office and able to get together for the traditional lunch, however, some remained working remotely at home. It was really important for the business to ensure everyone felt included.
We spoke to Fiona to learn more about how EdSmart made A Taste of Harmony work in Covid-times and why it’s an event the business returns to every year.
How did you make A Taste of Harmony work with a partly remote office?
This year due to covid-19 we had a hybrid event which was part in the office and part remote. Everyone was still invited to take part in the traditional way. Those in the office brought in a dish that they were able to share with their colleagues and those at home made a dish that they could share virtually. It was a relaxed and casual affair with people coming in and out, but that is the beauty of A Taste of Harmony – nothing feels forced.
Everyone had the opportunity to share a story of the food they selected, and we also sent around the recipes, so I think we did a great job of keeping everyone involved! As much as we all love the chance to try each other’s dishes, it’s the stories and listening to each other that is really most important.
Why is cultural diversity so important to you?
For me personally, I have always seen the value of a culturally diverse Australia. At this year’s event I shared a memory of a wonderful childhood friend who had a Greek heritage. I was embraced by her family with so much warmth and support, and an added bonus was the delicious Greek food! I learnt so much from this family that from a young age, I could see how worthwhile it was to dive in and learn about other cultures.
As a child I lived overseas for a few years and was fortunate to live in a culturally diverse village. When I came back to Australia it was a bit of a shock to see some people were not as inclusive. I thought, we have some work to do here! We don’t fully value our differences and we lose so much from not doing this. At EdSmart, I am proud because we are a really diverse cohort and I believe it is one of our great strengths as a team and a business.
What are some memorable dishes from your A Taste of Harmony lunches?
There are so many! The food is always made with such love and care. This year we had the best, best, best biryani chicken from North India. There was also a delicious Jollof rice dish from Ghana.
Why does A Taste of Harmony work?
It gives our team an opportunity to ask questions about each other’s cultural backgrounds. There is so much you can learn just from listening. And my experience is that it’s fascinating and a unique chance to learn even more about the world simply by talking to your colleagues. When people tell personal stories it’s genuine and heartfelt.
Why would you encourage other organisations to get involved?
It can spark conversation, but it’s a different type of conversation. It provides an opportunity to see more than just the role employees play for you (in day-to-day work) and instead provide an insight to who they are. It also really helps with creating a sense of belonging and in turn means an employee will want to work and grow with you.