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LY CPD Session – ‘Ikigai for Social Justice’ with Sheetal Deo from The Diversity Collective

Lunch & Learn Article written by Nithini Perera

In this month’s Legally Yours CPD session, Sheetal Deo discusses the concept of ‘ikigai for social justice- a reason for being’.

Sheetal is the founder and lead facilitator of The Diversity Collective- a cooperative social enterprise focusing on creating safe spaces to learn, grown and heal as well as the principal solicitor and founder of Shakti Legal- a low-Bono legal service provide.

Throughout her career, Sheetal has been pushing boundaries.

She is the first woman of colour to be elected to the 2022/2023 Queensland Law Society Council and the first woman of colour to be elected to that position in history.

Today, Sheetal discusses the importance of understanding our personal strengths, skills, passions, and identities in order to drive meaningful social change in our everyday lives.

Article Summary Points:

What is Ikigai?

The Japanese term ‘Ikigai’ has become increasingly popular with books, ted talks and podcasts reiterating the idea of finding passion and purpose and experiencing success by finding your ikigai.

‘Ikigai’ loosely translates to ‘a reason for being’.

The Ikigai diagram introduced to the Western world by Marc Winn in a 2014 blog post tells us that out ikigai or reason for being can be found at the intersection of four factors.

That is, at the intersection of what you love, what you are good at, what you can be paid or rewarded for and what the world needs, lies your ikigai.

However, Sheetal explains that this model cannot be directly applied for social justice. For example, it would be inappropriate to pay allies in some instances.  ^

How to use the model of Ikigai to drive social change?

The Diversity Collective’s model for social change is as follows:

The revised model of Ikigai for social change raises the following five questions:

What identities do you hold?

Social identities are often explored through the big 8- race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, religion/spirituality, age and socieo-economic status.

These are socially constructed systems of recognising a person with society forming a hierarchy around these identities leading to diversity dynamics.

Sheetal emphasises that where you sit on a particular social structure dictates your capacity to drive social change as well as the appropriateness to do so.

Sheetal also urges us to explore the concept of ‘identity’ beyond the big eight- race.

Instead of boxing ourselves and others to a single identity, Sheetal encourages us to view identities as intersectional.

Although people may enjoy certain privileges because of certain facets of their identity, such as race or ethnicity, they may be disadvantaged because of others such as their socio-economic status.

What are your personal strengths?

Sheetal provides numerous online tests to find out your personal strengths- Via character strengths and Hogan assessments are examples. This allows you to find opportunities that allow you to have maximum impact.

What brings you joy?

Do you remember the time you participated in activities that made you happy?

This may or may not be related to the social justice work you do?

Sheetal also encourages you to check in with your body as you do certain things.

How do discussions about social justice, race, privilege make you feel?

Physical reaction to these concepts can often indicate subconscious feelings that may need further exploration.

What needs to be done?

Finally, Sheetal finishes off by what we can do in our everyday lives as we advocate for social change

  • Proactively learn about experiences outside of our own – creating safer experiences for other people to share their experiences as well
  • Check in with yourself- how might you be perpetuating oppressive structures and bias,
  • De-centre your experience when learning about the experience of others- create spaces for people to share their experiences

On a final note, Sheetal reminds that as an ally, you don’t have to put out all of the fires.

Allyships and social justice is about finding a few things you can do to make a difference and it’s not selfish to make it something you enjoy or brings you money!  ^

If you have a specific question or you’d like to let us know what you need help with, head to our Talk to a Lawyer search resource and find the right lawyer for your needs.

This Lunch and Learn featured post does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area.

If you require any advice or information, please speak to a practising lawyer in your jurisdiction.

No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in or to any constituent part of Legally Yours Pty Ltd accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.