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How to build a more inclusive, equitable leadership team

September 5, 2021

By HR Reporter

Once an organization decides to begin the diversity and inclusion journey, what steps need to be taken so that the trip becomes a real success?

It begins with a mass commitment across the organization, according to one panelist at the upcoming HRD HR Leaders Summit, that will virtually take place on Oct. 19.

“Diversity, equity, inclusion issues are systemic so I don’t know that they can be solved with one-off programs or policies. Organizations need a comprehensive approach that looks at diversity, equity, inclusion across the entire organization, and then also how the organization fits in with society. HR could take the lead on the effort but it is an organization-wide undertaking,” says Sartaj Sarkaria, chief diversity officer and vice-president, corporate services at the Canadian Marketing Association in Toronto.

“Inclusion strategy doesn’t just sit with the senior leadership to make sure it trickles down. It has to be everyone’s objective to make sure it happens but we need to activate from different parts of the system: it needs to be top down, bottom up, middle out.”

Sarkaria spoke with Canadian HR Reporter about some of the key topics that will be discussed on the panel: “Building up an all-inclusive and equitable leadership.”

In order for businesses to facilitate and develop a truly inclusive team of leaders, employers must first ensure they “have a strong mission, strong policies and practices and also a good work culture,” says Sarkaria and to be aware that “to develop and encourage these future leaders, it’s really on the current senior team.”

Important qualities
A number of key qualities should be present or fostered and developed for each individual leader to become fully inclusive, according to Sarkaria. “It includes authentic commitment and ally-ship, as well as an awareness of bias, a kind curiosity, cultural intelligence and effective collaboration.”

For that genuine component, “it means that any leader who’s looking to mentor or build up the skill-set of another employee, it needs to be coming from a positive and authentic place,” she says, otherwise, the effort will fail.

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