By Aru Kaul
Ryerson early childhood studies alumna Natalie Royer is on a mission to implement and foster belonging in the world of business and education through Saroy Group, a training, consulting and coaching business.
Royer implements equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) strategies through her workshops for educators and entrepreneurs. She provides training for topics including stress management techniques, cultivating belonging in the workplace, recognizing microaggressions in the workplace and reflecting on personal blindspots and biases.
Since Royer started the consulting agency in 2018, she has since worked with a variety of businesses and organizations including the System Planning and Policy at the City of Toronto, George Brown College and York Region.
“The first real pull for me to get into training and development was that I wanted to see more people who look like me as facilitators”
During her time as a master’s student at Ryerson, Royer attended trainings and workshops for professional development, noting that she never saw herself represented in any of the sessions she attended. She knew that she wanted to change this, making it a big motivation for her to get into a facilitator role herself.
“The first real pull for me to get into training and development was that I wanted to see more people who look like me as facilitators,” Royer said.
According to the Journal of Childhood Studies, an overwhelming majority of early childhood educators in Ontario are white and middle class. This affects how racial identity is perceived in education.
Anti-Racism ECE Ontario, an organization that advocates for diversity training in early childhood education, highlights the importance of including courses on anti-racism, as well as how trauma, gender and disability intersect with race.
Having been affected by others’ biases herself, Royer illustrates the importance of belonging and creates a space that addresses implicit biases through her training for educators.
“I was worried about people’s implicit biases and that they may not book me if they saw a Black woman,” Royer said. “This is why I never put my face on LinkedIn or other social media platforms.” Royer says she didn’t put her face on LinkedIn until five months ago.
When Royer first started her business, she did a workshop in person at Queen Books, a Toronto-based book shop on Queen Street in Leslieville. From this, she said she was able to build a community around her workshops.
“I was worried about people’s implicit biases and that they may not book me if they saw a Black woman”
Royer recalls meeting an editor from Today’s Parent at the book shop who was interested in learning more about her work. She said this helped her realize she wanted to create a business for her services.
“I didn’t have a big business plan but when I realized the reception just from the workshops in the book store, it made me realize this is something I could really do,” Royer said.
As someone who strives to always be the best authentic version of herself, Royer emphasized the importance of taking time to build an authentic network and community.
“If you start off with what you love, then people will see that passion in the way you present your business and it will resonate with them,” Royer said.
As Royer plans for the future of Saroy Group, she said she intends to keep connecting with companies and organizations to “make change” by creating scholarships for Black students that want to enter the master’s program in early childhood studies at Ryerson and entrepreneurial pathways for new graduates.