Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) training is becoming a significant investment for companies, commanding an $8B annual spend in the US alone. And yet the traditional methods for conducting these trainings have often been proven to do more harm than good, putting participants on the defensive and solidifying biases rather than dismantling them.

Recognizing that many people absorb more through experiences than lectures, Myra LalDin is working on a platform called Perspectives that leverages Virtual Reality (VR) technology to help people experience the biases and behaviors that impact underrepresented populations.

I had the opportunity to talk with Myra about the innovative work that she is doing.

Rebekah Bastian: How did you become interested in working in the DEI space?

Myra LalDin: Growing up in multiple countries with different cultures was an early catalyst to my interest in this space. I attended an international boarding school in Pakistan from the age of six. As one of its few domestic students I found myself balancing western culture’s norms with my own. Cognitive dissonance was a central part of my upbringing, as I sometimes felt like an immigrant in my own backyard. At my school, I observed some people talking in a way that seemed to carry a sense of superiority, casting their western beliefs on others and appearing to belittle the very culture and people they came to help.

In addition to the psychological impacts of coming from a nondominant worldview, I have experienced individuals and groups trying to harm others based on difference. Because of that, I’m driven to create equity by helping people question everyday biases to which they may have become accustomed. I want to reveal how bias impacts decisions and how social and emotional intelligence can lead to cultural change.

I studied cross-cultural management and later cognitive science at Harvard. From there I consulted in organizational behavior through a global competency and inclusion lens. The DEI space allowed me to support organizations in creating an environment where differences can be embraced instead of feared and attacked.

Bastian: What led you to explore using Virtual Reality to address corporate DEI needs?     

LalDin: I cofounded a company called VECTRE, which provides training solutions in immersive VR environments. We leverage our expertise in software, cognitive science, and behavior theory to architect enterprise solutions across multiple industries. Our virtual environments allow our clients to create, test, and train significantly faster and more effectively than they could using traditional methods.