The organization’s chief inclusion officer discusses building an inclusive learning roadmap, the adoption of AI in the HR space and finding ways to nourish her soul amid life’s daily demands.

Q: What top challenges do you face in your role?

A: Harmonizing company objectives with internal and external expectations — which are influenced by cultural shifts, regulatory updates and/or societal norms — while reinforcing our commitment to inclusion can be challenging. Managing diverse viewpoints within the organization requires understanding of — and adaptability to — strategies, policies and initiatives that reflect the company’s core purpose and values. And highlighting the role of diversity, equity and inclusion in fostering employee well-being and organizational sustainability is a challenge that requires measuring the progress and impact of BMO’s DEI initiatives and programs, as well as assessing cultural shifts towards inclusivity and belonging.

Read: BMO introducing expanded diversity strategy to address gaps

Q: What new programs or initiatives are you looking to implement?

A: We’re focused on evolving our inclusive learning roadmap within our onboarding and management preparation programs and continuing to strengthen inclusive leadership competencies in partnership with our Institute for Learning. These include cultural awareness, self-awareness, building trust, empathy and respectful relationships at work and furthering allyship and inclusive leadership.

Q: What programs do you consider the most successful or that you’re most proud of?

Career crib sheet

January 2021 — Present

Chief inclusion officer, BMO Financial Group

November 2019 — January 2021

Managing director, executive compensation, BMO Financial Group

January 2018 — November 2019

Director, executive compensation, RBC

September 2016 — December 2018

Director, workforce strategy, RBC

January 2015 — September 2016

Senior manager, workforce insights, RBC

October 2012 — January 2015

Senior compensation consultant (capital markets), RBC

A: I take immense pride in our best-in-class employee resource group program, which has evolved over the years through a robust governance framework that fosters collaboration across 11 ERGs. Our voluntary self-identification program, known as ‘Count Me In,’ has proven instrumental in understanding our workforce. This digital-first approach ensures accessibility and confidentiality, empowering employees to share aspects of their identity at any time. Both initiatives exemplify our commitment to inclusivity.

Read: Back to basics on employee resource groups

Q: What key HR issues do you expect in the coming year?

A: Driving efficiency through more adoption of artificial intelligence to help change the way that colleagues work and innovate is a priority at BMO, including setting the standard for its responsible use and reskilling our workforces for an AI-enabled world. Another issue is articulating the value of HR-related initiatives in exacting clear business outcomes, including their effect on operating margins, enhancing workforce planning capabilities, employee productivity, retention and engagement and efficiency.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time? What are your hobbies?

A: I find fulfillment through activities that deeply enrich my mind, body and spirit, from daily meditation and yoga sessions to exhilarating skiing adventures or a tranquil round of golf. Quality time with cherished loved ones, including my children, canine companion and close friends, nourishes my soul amid life’s daily demands. Additionally, giving back to my community through mentoring or supporting local initiatives brings me profound satisfaction and purpose.

Read: Survey finds Canadian employees who volunteer have better mental health

Q: What’s your favourite employee benefit and why?

A: Our holistic and inclusive offerings are my favourite. This includes BMO’s significant financial support for employee mental health, recognition of employees’ differing paths to parenthood, commitment to employees’ need to sometimes take time off to support personal needs, gender affirmation coverage and our virtual wellness hub that promotes news items, articles, videos and key resources for all aspects of wellness.

Lauren Bailey is the interim managing editor of Benefits Canada and the Canadian Investment Review.