From Toronto to Warsaw

I spent most of my professional life in Toronto, Canada but I moved back to Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the dramatic events of 2020, it feels surreal to think that the year started really well for me. In January, after more than six years of living in Toronto, I was officially becoming a Canadian. I still remember the conversation with a taxi driver taking me to the citizenship ceremony. When he learned where I was going, he said: “Oh. So that means that you can go back home now!”. I had absolutely no intention of moving out of Canada at that time. Exactly one year later, this was what I did.

But I did not “go back home” – my definition of home has expanded. Professionally things haven’t changed that much. Shortly after the move, I launched my consulting practice What Works. It enables me to work with Canadian collaborators and clients and also to have an impact in Europe. What do I do now? My projects included launching a European Center supporting Employee Resource Groups, facilitating the development of DEI frameworks and strategies for Canadian organizations, designing many learning programs with my colleagues at DiversiPro, providing intercultural coaching to future police officers, and helping senior leaders of a Danish company expanding to Poland manage their Polish team members more effectively. Personally, the hardest and the most rewarding experience since relocating to Warsaw was being able to support people fleeing Ukraine when Russia launched a full-scale war on the country.

What’s next?

My goals for 2023 are to continue my work with Canadian and European collaborators to make workplaces more inclusive and equitable. I want to elevate the conversation on DEI and have it focus on changing unfair systems rather than raising awareness and changing the hearts and minds of individuals. In my experience, we have less of this in Europe. That is one of the reasons I developed a foundational e-learning course – DEI Starter. While the main principles of DEI work apply to organizations anywhere, I tailored this course to the European audience. It explores what DEI means in the workplace and gives you a strong foundation.

I have no doubts that there is so much work to do in 2023. Let’s work together to make workplaces fairer and better for everyone.

Anna Kostecka (she/her)

Managing Director at What Works. She is a globally-minded Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategist with 12+ years of experience supporting organizations around the world on their DEI journey.