Inclusive Leadership: Fostering Mentorship, Allyship, "Anita Taleski Inclusive Leadership: Fostering Mentorship, Allyship, and Sponsorship for a Diverse Workforce

Anita Taleski
Senior Manager, Strategy & Digital
Jade Psutka
Sr Manager, Indigenous Enablement & Recruitment
Teniola Onabanjo
Manager, Inclusion Diversity and Equity

Video Transcription

Awesome. Well, thank you. And hello and welcome everyone. Hope you're all doing amazing today. Wherever you're tuning in from around the globe today, my team and I are speaking to you from Canada. So we'd like to start off this session with a land acknowledgment.KPMG acknowledges that indigenous peoples are the traditional guardians of this land that we now call Canada. We are grateful to live and work here and humbly support efforts in our communities across the nation based on dignity, trust and cooper operation. We are committed to learning about our shared past and pursuing a new and more inclusive, collaborative and respectful path towards a better future. So, before we kick off our session today, let's get acquainted with some introductions, shall we? My name is Anita Tales and I'm joining you from Toronto, Canada. I'm a senior manager at KPMG in Canada in our strategy and digital group. I'm also the project manager of our KPMG woman and technology community and producer of our podcast, Woman, Talk Tech, Jade. Do you wanna go next?

Awesome. Thank you. So, hello, Skole Sho and D me. So, hello, everyone. My name is Jade Pacif. Um I'm currently located out in Gatineau Quebec, which is the traditional unseeded and unsured territory of the n Algonquin nation where I work to honor them as guardians, innovators and knowledge keepers. Um I am a proud for students put in a woman from one nation of tens. Um I am part of the national inclusion, diversity and Equity Town attraction team as a senior manager, indigenous enablement and recruitment. I'm also one of the co chairs for the National Indigenous People's Network, which is a group of first nations Inuit ma T uh employees working alongside our non indigenous allies. And with that, I throw it over to Tenny.

Amazing. Thank you, Jade and hello everyone. Thank you for joining us today. My name is 10 Ola on Aano. You can call me Tenny. Um I reside in Hamilton, Ontario um joined KPMG um almost two years ago. I'm one of the managers, inclusion, diversity and equity. I'm also part of the Black Professionals Network. I also have the opportunity to work with over 30 of our people networks which people call er G. So if you, if I make reference to people networks, what I mean is our employee resource groups? I'm excited to be here.

Well, thank you both JJ Jade and Tenny for joining me today. It's so great to have the three of us here together as we're, we all come from diverse backgrounds and can share our own unique perspective. Uh It's very fitting as we're here today to talk about inclusive leadership and fostering mentorship, allyship and sponsorship for a diverse workforce. So I'm celebrating nine years at KPMG in Canada this year. I know, and one of the reasons I've really enjoyed my time at the firm is because of the diverse relationships. I've been able to foster, I've had an opportunity to experience mentorship and sponsorship throughout my career here. And I think our inclusive leadership is one of the factors that has contributed to the welcoming and supportive workplace. So my first question to you, Jade and Tenny, what has your experience been like at the firm as it relates to inclusive leadership? And how has it helped to create a culture of inclusion and belonging for you? Awesome. Well,

I'll take that first one and I definitely haven't done, you know, a full nine years at KPMG quite yet. But um I've been with the firm for about two years. Uh And I've really been fortunate to have, you know, amazing leadership um throughout my career, showing me, you know, what inclusive leadership actually looks like. So I've been mentored and sponsored by a variety of leaders. Um some that look like me and others that do not.

Um And really great inclusive leaders are ones that take the time to understand you support in raising your voice. Uh because it's really, you know, before I came into this space, I, I really wasn't as confident in my identity or my skills or my ability and making impact. So, it really is thanks to those around me that I'm, I'm really able to come here and speak to you all of you today. So, um I've been a part of both, you know, formal and organic uh mentorship during my time with the firm. So uh when we actually created the truth and reconciliation action plan, I was lucky enough to be a part of the core team to determine, you know, how we wanted to answer that call. Uh But that wasn't just me, we had, you know, many indigenous employees, community partners, um and individuals voices that were present. Um And the leaders ensured that, you know, our diversity was heard, our histories were recognized and the actions being made were coming from, you know, our experiences as well as our aspirations. Uh And that is, you know, really what true inclusive leadership looks like in action.

So really being able to bring everyone together equally hearing one another and, and working to support all. Uh Today, I continue to be a part of inclusive leadership as both, you know, a mentor, a mentee and you know, somebody who's a sponsor while also being somebody that, that, you know, receives sponsorship from others. Um So here at the organization, we also work with uh you know, a great CH Col Martin's family initiative and, and this extends mentorship to indigenous high school students. Uh It's really a, you know, reciprocal program that not only creates your representation for youth, but in turn, um youth are able to share with us. Um I also run the Indigenous Mentorship program which partners early talent with the National Indigenous People's Networks or er G.

Um And that's really offering among, you know, other things is, is really career navigation and guidance. Um Outside of that, you know, I get to sit on a, you know, a committee that's called The Leaders of Tomorrow, which is essentially a direct line to our CEO Leo. Um So really being able to share, you know, opinions, approaching ways to make KPMG a greater space and, and then outside of, you know, my time in the firm or, or my time within the organization, I sit on, you know, indigenous leadership circle um as well as a board that works with Indigenous youth across Canada.

So I'm really given the space to, you know, honor my connections to my first nations identity as well as, you know, any community responsibility that I may hold. Um And really, those are all the, the ways that you can create like inclusive leadership and how that can look is really allowing um for space to be growing, you know, internally in your organization, engaging externally with community and ultimately allowing, you know, somebody to have their true self be the driver of the impacts that they want to make.

Um And that's kind of my experience and, and maybe they'll let Tenny talk a little bit about hers.

Great. So how do I talk that, Jade? Um So, yes. Um So, yeah, as I mentioned that I've been at the firm for almost two years and in my role, I get to see firsthand what the firm is doing to advance inclusion and equity. Um So, one of the priorities of the inclusion, diversity and equity team is to build multiyear action plans to help build and accelerate on the progress that we're making on truth and reconciliation, disability inclusion and anti-racism, Jade has touched on, you know, the truth and reconciliation action plan, which was launched last year.

And currently we're taking, you know, the steps to ensure that we're advancing truth and reconciliation. So to follow suit, we're working on a disability inclusion action plan and an anti-racism action plan. I had the honor to be leading the anti-racism action plan in collaboration with our er GS um various stakeholders in the firm. So when I talk about the build of the anti-racism action plan, our vision is to advance anti-racism within and outside um KPMG to create an environment where our people can thrive regardless of their racial and ethnic backgrounds. Um So when you think about the plan, you know, it comprises of our people of color and networks and the different actions that we should take to ensure that anti-racism does not, you know, so I that racism does not, you know, exist in the frame. And we are also catalysts for change outside one of the action items that we have on the anti-racism action plan is what we're currently doing right now is um mentorship programs to help advancement and retain um our people. Now, I currently run the black Senior manager mentorship program that is aimed to advance our senior managers, our black senior managers in the firm to the partnership level.

Um We also have, you know, partnership with organizations, numerous organizations that support um you know, the representation of um people of color in the organization. We also support the upcoming generation as well. So as, as Jade mentioned that she works with, you know, various groups for mentorship.

We also support mentorship for our people of color groups to the next generation of youth that are looking to, you know, eventually join KPMG in the future. The second bit of our anti-racism action plan or I would say that relates to inclusive leadership is we have cultural training for our leaders, our people leaders. Um For when, you know, we have newcomers joining the organization um in Canada, we're having an inflow of newcomers, which is amazing. It's helping our economy, but we're not newcomers come, it's important that we support them in their journey, you know, in a new country, in a new, in a new company. So we have cultural competence training for our managers to learn how to deal with people with different backgrounds.

That did not learn how to relate because we're all very different. Um We're all different regardless of, you know, where we come from. Um The last thing I'm gonna touch on here is all in all, what I would say is inclusive leadership is good leadership. So when you take the time to learn about someone, if it's through the mentorship program that we, I just mentioned, if it's through sponsoring on an organization, if it's to take on training, it gives room for you to have grace and patience and better understanding for someone else that is not like you.

And when you rid yourself of or when we rid ourselves of preconceived notions and biases, we give opportunity for other people to thrive and give a level playing field for everyone. An example is that people of color tend to have to work twice as hard than their counterparts to be seen as half as good. This shouldn't be so it's draining. It's exhausting when we get rid of our biases. When we get rid of those weights that we place on other people, we create an environment that is conducive for all. And that's what I would say. Inclusive leadership is from my perspective, back to you anytime.

Well, thank you both for sharing your experiences and those various initiatives. I think they're all great and it's so great to see those types of things in action. You know, I can't believe it's been three years since we launched our KPMG women and technology community, it was actually back in March 2020. So not, not that long ago, but uh we've achieved so much since then. And our goal with building this community is to empower women to pursue careers in tech as it tends to be a male dominated area. So since our inception, I'm proud to say our community has encouraged more women at our firm to be more curious about technology and learn about different careers in tech, not only have met or women supported each other within the community, but we have a number of men that have joined the community as well.

So that brings up another important topic. Let's discuss the importance of communities like these and its relation to uh allyship. First of all, what does allyship mean to you and what are some things that we can do to encourage allyship and you want to go first or jade? Whoever wants to take that one? Go ahead.

Let me unmute. Perfect. Yeah. Great, great question. So when, when we think and you know, congratulations to the women in tech team at KPMG for the groups and hats off to you, Anita for the excellent work you're doing. Um So when I think about a allyship, an ally for me, is someone that you know, is in support of, of another individual or, or a country for me, allyship should be action oriented and not performative. I know performative is like a new word that I've been using and that people have been using, but it shouldn't be performative. So it's not enough to be called an ally for you. For someone to earn the word ally. It's someone that has taken the steps necessary to support advance and advocate for underrepresented groups. So few examples on what, you know, allyship means to me. Um As I had mentioned, you know, at KPMG, we have the Senior Black manager mentorship program. Um We, you know, Anita has mentioned, we have the women's mentorship program, we have the Indigenous Mentorship Program. People that you know, sign up to be mentors in these programs have taken the steps to understand other groups and to mentor them so that they're able to support them in their careers. So that is what an ally is.

Secondly, for me, an ally is someone that advocates for other groups. So for example, research has shown that women and underrepresented groups do not feel comfortable talking about their achievements because society has conditioned us to, to be humble and to not brag but an ally would be someone that would advocate and say, hey, I see this person on my team doing great work speaking up when the individual is not there and also encouraging the person to also speak up for themselves.

So one again, I say an advocate, an ally is not performative and an ally is an advocate over to UJ.

Awesome Yeah, and I, I agree with all of that and I feel like, you know, allyship is such a, a common conversation that's definitely being had and, you know, our, our people's networks or, er GS or just even in the work that we do most definitely in inclusion, diversity and equity.

And um from my opinion, you know, authentic allyship is, is a process of unlearning and re evaluating as a person when you're, you know, in a position of privilege and power to seek to create, you know, that solidarity with a marginalized group. Um So, for example, like I come into this space today with privilege, knowing that not everybody from my community has the opportunity to do this. Um And to acknowledge my own privilege being open to relearning. Um And, and, you know, unlearning the things that I know. Um you know, II I can come into this space and be honest and active in creating space for others um so that I can be, you know, that authentic ally. Um And as I mentioned previously is that I, you know, I kind of brought up some of the sponsors and mentors that I've had and, and they haven't always looked like me, but effective support is really about, you know, education, openness and the ability to learn and unlearn. So then you can truly, you know, take action as you speak up and work to create spaces for others to be heard. Um So you know, how can you kick that off or how can you do that? And, and I want to kind of encourage everybody that's in the virtual room today. Um to, you know, take a review, take a moment to, to understand and you know, who is in your circle. So, you know, who do you associate with in your place of work?

Um You know, whether it's beside you at the desk or if it's somebody that you're meeting for lunch, um, you know, who's in your social circles or, you know, even if you're a part of committees and boards that you, you know, you, you support, like who are those individuals and if you take a look around, do they, you know, look and sound like you.

Um, and, and, you know, is that a way for you to activate yourself as an authentic ally? Um, you know, maybe it's time to shake that up and, and make a commitment to learn about others or marshal group. Um, because, you know, when you do have the ability to show up for others, then you can truly come into the space, being informed. Um, you know, be open to essentially leaving your ego at the door. Um, and, and know that you will, you know, unlearn biases. Um, you know, there's patterns of understanding and you kind of have to leave that, um, at the door to really learn. Uh, and also knowing that, you know, being an authentic ally, um, isn't a once and done, you know, it isn't, you know, a square on, you know, your social media and it's, you know, and, and for us in candidates not putting on that orange shirt when it comes to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, like there's a commitment and it does take time and a lot of times it's going to be uncomfortable.

Um, but if you want to be an authentic ally and, and actually be impactful, it's gonna be a continuous journey. Um And, and that's kind of what I've noticed in the work that I've done as, as you know, promoting others to be authentic allies, but then also learning myself how to be an authentic ally to others.

Yeah. Thank you for those definitions and the calls to action, I think those are really important. Um So hopefully everyone take note of that. Um you know, it's also so important for individuals to have mentors or role models in their careers, but that they can look up to and learn from sponsors are just as important because they help promote individuals who not necessarily have a voice at the table. So for women in tech, getting access to a mentor or sponsor can be a challenge because one, there tends to be less representation. Two, there isn't just one pathway for a career in technology and three women may not be presented with the same opportunities compared to men. So one way that the KPMG women and technology community aims to support our network is through our internal mentorship program where we match mentees with experienced mentors. Also, our podcast called Woman Talk Tech, spotlights different career stories of women in tech in hopes to inspire other women in their careers. So my next question, Tenny and Jade, what can businesses do to ensure they have more representation? And can you share any tips with the audience about how they can find meaningful mentorship or sponsorship? Who do you wanna go first? Uh Let's do Jade, I guess.

All right. Awesome, thanks. Um So, for myself, you know, growing up, I didn't have a great deal of role models that were indigenous. Definitely none that I saw in the world of tech or business. Um And, you know, ultimately, that did give me the impression that, you know, this space was for me. Um Luckily in Canada, that is starting to change. So we are, you know, not only seeing indigenous cultures celebrated, but we are seeing more people in a variety of roles. Um So, you know, what does it take essentially to move to that, to, to increase the representation? Um Well, representation, ultimately, it takes time, it takes patience and it takes resources. So there needs to be an effort from the top to the bottom and from the bottom to the top. Um It needs to be a commitment by all and not just, you know, a select few um for us at KPMG or, or within my role and what, you know, the work that do outside of it. Um You know, it's really been the explanation of why representation matters. So what does this truly bring to, you know, our culture, to our ability to innovate our impact with the community and ultimately, you know, the services that we provide to the diversity of our clients.

Um And like I said, it, it really is a responsibility of not a select few, but it really is a group responsibility that needs to be had. Um So, in my own experience with the work that I do currently um in inclusion, diversity and equity, you know, we have leads within talent attraction such as, you know, Nicole Louise Emily and Steph and, and those are kind of our leaders in that space and they really make the um you know, the work that we do matter in all aspects of firm life.

So not just within talent attraction or recruitment. Um And it's really about ensuring, you know, that our team is heard. Uh you know, our ID and E practices are at the core of what we do. Um And, and ultimately, you know, having the larger group commit um and understand that commitment. So that's really going to help to build that representation um of kind of, you know, the overall organization uh as for finding meaningful mentorship and sponsorship, you know, there's, there's the easy ways of, you know, taking a look on linkedin or, or, you know, leveraging networks and, and different programming.

Of course, those are, those are great ways to engage with, you know, mentors and sponsorship. Um But uh you know, it's not always perfect, which I think I, I, I want to point out is that um it's too, it's OK to acknowledge that. So, outside of, you know, the numerous great experiences that I had, I've also been part of, you know, organized organic mentorship and sponsorship that just wasn't a good fit for me. Um And breaking from that is OK, starting over is OK. Um And when you take away from that relationship um is really valuable. So you now have and feel that, you know, that an inclusive leadership, you know, that's kind of the pitfalls of it and you can be better prepared for yourself, you know, as you maybe move into that role of being that authentic leader and, you know, being a sponsor and a mentor.

Um So I think it's just knowing that it's, you know, it's not always perfect and it's OK to acknowledge that and take a step back and re evaluate and identify those that can really be in your corner um as a leader and the leader that you want need. So, yeah.

Amazing. Thank you, Jay. Really good. OK. So to achieve repre more representation, um what I would say is we would need to evaluate the end to end journey of the employee cycle, right? So, right, from hiring to advancement, um and I'll just mention a few steps here. So for example, when the recruitment marketing team, oh OK, let's, let's backtrack when the team has a requisition that they want to put out, it starts from there. Are we using inclusive language on the job postings? Um There's, there's certain roles that, you know, when some strong language is used are women and you know, marginalized groups might not want to apply because, you know, they want to be 100% sure that they're able to qualify for that role. So are we using software language that is able to not software? But are we using language that is inclusive? Let's just see, inclusive language. I know that um when we're looking at, you know, representation as well, is are we looking at the places that we are hiring? So do we go to a certain uh school to recruit from uh people of a certain background that we're recruiting from? So are we sure that we're covering all grounds with where we are hiring from? Third is um are we looking at our recruitment marketing, you know, practices? So when we are promoting your role on our company website, our different groups represented there, for example, some people might say, hey, I don't see, this is just an example.

I don't see a black person on your, on your poster So I don't think you got, I don't think you, you, you have black people. So ensuring that we have and not for performative sake or for tokenism, but people want to see that there are people that are in the organization that look like them so that they know that I can join and be thrive and be accepted. So when you're marketing, do we do people see representation there when it comes to interviewing? Um you know, ensuring that there are more than one person that is interviewing an individual so that if we get rid of our biases, we all have biases where wherever we come from, we all have biases. So ensuring that, you know, we're taking steps to ensure that those biases are are reduced. Um Ensuring that, you know, there are individuals that might need you to send the interview question ahead of time and this might be controversial, but this does help us um support individuals that might have a disability, think about it. We are all prepared for this panel.

We wrote our questions down, we wrote our answers down, we prepared, the questions were being thrown at us ahead of time. So why don't we give people the opportunity to prepare ahead of time for an interview and everybody benefits from it as well. So thinking about little practice like that would help our representation. The next point would be ensuring that, you know, when people are being onboarded in the organization, they are giving good onboarding experience, providing a mentor, a body to help support them. The next one could be ensuring that they are pro provided the same level of work opportunities because this affects their performance and it affects their prospects for advancement and promotion. Um Ensuring that our managers, our leaders embark on training and are held accountable for their actions.

If they are not being inclusive, representation is not a point in time. So I've mentioned so many things in the employee life cycle. It's not a point in time. All these things help an organization to ensure that they are having the right representation of people in the organization.

So why don't you rush through that?

Awesome. Well, I know we're uh almost at time, we have five minutes left. Um But I thought before we wrap up the session, we can highlight one thing from this discussion today that uh we wanna highlight to the audience. Um Just quickly, what, what do, what do you wanna say, Jade and Tenny for the audience?

Do you want me to go? Ok. I'll just go. No worries. So I, you know, I didn't answer the last mentorship and spon. How do you get a mentor? So I'll probably do that in this last question. So what I would say is um in getting a mentor, a sponsor um develop genuine interest in people. So, on both ends, whether or not you're a mentor or you're a mentee, people love it when you take interest in them, not from a flattery point, but just wanting to genuinely know about someone asking them about their role about their life or, or whatever would help you develop meaningful relationships.

And that way it could mean it could lead to a sponsorship or what mentorship relationship the next point. And final point that I'll give is developing a strong personal brand for yourself. People are attracted to good people who are attracted to people that are good in something that way you are bringing. Um you are attracting the right people that you want around you.

Those are great, Jake.

Awesome. I think um for me, the big takeaway would be to, you know, when you're going through this process is to leave your ego at the door. Um because you and, and your, you know, your communities and those that you work with will just be better for it. Um because it's really about learning and unlearning as an inclusive leader and it's not going to be easy. And that first piece is really, you know, leaving your ego at the door as you build these relationships and lead with that.

Awesome. Well, thank you both again for joining me today and thank you all for joining us. Uh We hope you enjoyed the session. If you're interested in a career in tech at KPMG, please check out the KPMG in Canada Digital Careers page. We'll be sharing the link in the chat if it's not already there. Um And if you're curious about the KPMG woman and technology community, we encourage you to listen to our podcast, woman talk tech to get inspired by the career stories of women in tech. And make sure to visit our virtual booth and connect uh with our reps from our talent attraction team to learn more about how you can thrive with the career at KPMG in Canada. Our booth reps will be live today from now uh until 1 p.m. Eastern time and again from three pm to 4 p.m. Eastern time. So we hope you enjoy the rest of the conference. Thank you. Thank you, everyone.