Conflit à l’oeuvre: Conflict and Oppression
This spring (2018), we started a project called Conflit à l’oeuvre, which focusses on understanding the links between conflict and “diversity” (systemic oppression) in the context of community organizations. The project has two main parts: first, to understand the issue through research. Second, we will be developing popular education tools, and offering workshops. We will be storing all of the resources and updates on this project here.
Why is COCo interested in the link between conflict and systemic oppression/diversity?
Heading into this project, we already knew that:
- Diversity, if supported by the right organizational practices, strengthens organizations
- Having truly diverse teams requires organizations to change, and this can be present real challenges (and opportunities!) for groups. Supporting organizational change is what we like to do!
- Change around issues of diversity brings some unique challenges, and we wanted to understand them better. This means understanding what conditions need to be in place for diversity related change work to succeed, and what contexts might mean that diversity related work is likely to fail.
- There has been an increase in the requests we get for anti-oppression training because a group had an internal conflict related to diversity. We also have more and more requests for conflict resolution processes that included issues related to systemic oppression, like sexism, racism, and ableism.
- Our research project Diversité d’Abord showed us that a lot of the problems around racism in organizations were marked by a lack of trust. We felt that conflict mediation can teach us a lot about building trust!
What are the goals of this project?
- We want to better understand ways to build trust and nourish open communication across diverse teams and organizations
- Improve our ability, and the ability of other individuals in the community sector, to facilitate conflict resolution processes that are successful, as well as informed by an understanding of oppression and social justice. As facilitators and mediators, this means being better able to support the people who are most impacted by conflict situations, because of their personal experience of oppression.
- Support the retention and improve workplace conditions for individuals from historically marginalized groups in the community sector. This includes developing organizational practices that concretely support the long-term well-being and development of these groups.
- Develop and create practices in community organizations that can equitably recognize the contributions of their members
- Support organizational health by helping organizations get on the same page about their diversity work and anti-oppressive practices
As well, we improved our ability to support conflict management and prevention in community organizations, primarily by participating as a team in a 5 day training on conflict mediation and anti-racism offered by St. Stephen’s Community House (Toronto, ON), and running follow up workshops to further our skills in this area.
So far, we have shared the results of this research publicly twice:
- Panel presentation at the Semaine nationale d’action communautaire autonome in the Fall of 2018.
- A full day workshop Conflict and Racism: Creating Inroads Towards Learning, Healing, and Transformation, which included presenting the research results as well as introducing participants to tools they can use to better understand their own situations.
For any inquiries regarding CALO, please contact Emil Briones at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Having experienced unresolved conflicts within my organization, I found it very helpful to name and discuss what conflict means, what it consists of, why it happens, and its impacts, which made me realize the challenges we still have in addressing conflict when it happens in our organization.”—Comment from the Conflict and Racism workshop