As the host of the Women’s LEAD segment of the Wealth Exchange podcast, I recently had the opportunity to speak to Liz Firer-Gillespie, Director of Asset Management at Nicola Wealth on the multiple ways that leaders can build an inclusive workplace.
Based on her own experience, Liz is an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, women going through fertility journeys, women in real estate and for everyone to love and accept who they are. With Pride month in June, many companies have been speaking about supporting LGBTQ+ members of their staff so I was interested in speaking to Liz to see exactly how workplaces can do just that.
On our recent podcast episode, we were able to dig deep into her story and how role models played a huge part in helping her accept who she is. She also highlighted five key takeaways on how companies can create an inclusive workplace and support all employees, including members of the LGBTQ+ community, people of colour and new parents:
- Make sure all voices are heard, not just those speaking the loudest. This burden should not be on LGBTQ+ people, people of colour, new mothers etc. Whether it includes having anonymous message boards or community groups, creating this dialogue and culture falls to the people in power.
- Have supportive leadership. Build transparency and space for employees to speak to their boss and say, “this is what’s going on in my life,” and allow them to be flexible with what people need. Having that support system and people who can have those difficult conversations provides a sense of safety and enables them to thrive.
- Language and actions matter. Don’t assume everyone is like you. If someone wants you to use a preferred pronoun, just respect it. If you are unsure about something, ask and then sincerely listen.
- Look at privacy in office spaces. With many companies moving to more open-plan offices as they restructure to accommodate hybrid work, there need to be spaces where people can have privacy, be it new mothers needing a place to pump, people with medical needs, etc.
- Build a culture where people can authentically be themselves. People should not have to hide their personal lives or who they truly are to fit in or move ahead at work. The amount of mental energy that is exerted in order to hide who you are is not worth it and takes away from your potential and ability to do your best work.
Liz’s courage to harness the power of her voice to speak up, speak out and lead by example is truly inspirational. Our conversation also served as a great reminder of how little things, such as active listening, not making assumptions, using the right language, and asking a simple question like – “how can I better support you,” helps to break down existing barriers of traditional societal norms.
She also revalidated to me the importance of having a strong supportive network, ensuring your personal values align with those of your workplace and having a boss who exemplifies the true meaning of support. We are so lucky to have her as a leader at Nicola Wealth!
This material contains the current opinions of the author and such opinions are subject to change without notice. This material is distributed for informational purposes only. Nicola Wealth is registered as a Portfolio Manager, Exempt Market Dealer and Investment Fund Manager with the required securities commissions.