Concepts like cultural competence and inclusive practices are not easy to tackle and understand,” explains Nupur Khandelwal, but, as the Manager of Corporate Learning and Talent Development at the LCBO, getting a grounding in these areas was key to her ability to deliver the best possible programming.

That’s why she enrolled in TRIEC’s Certificate in Inclusive Leadership, a four-month program designed to empower leaders to advance diversity and inclusion within their organizations.

(PHOTO: Leaders of organizations participating in
Certificate in Inclusive Leadership)

For Khandelwal, the best part of the program was the balance between theory and practice, and she says she appreciated, “the practical takeaways, the resources that were shared and the great conversations in the many classroom discussions that we had.”

Since the program began in 2015 “over 100 leaders from a wide range of organizations have taken part” says Rachel Crowe, Manager of Learning and Inclusive Workplaces at TRIEC, who co-facilitates the course alongside Shirley-Marie Garcia, Director of People and Culture at March of Dimes Canada.

Khandelwal’s cohort included leaders “from different sectors, different industries, different roles, from across Ontario,” which is why she says “it was very eye-opening to see that a lot of us are struggling with the same things. It’s actually comforting to know that.” Not only did the breadth of professional experience in the cohort allow participants to share “our struggles and challenges, but we were also sharing some tips and tools which was really great,” Khandelwal says.

The sharing didn’t end there. She says she was able to take learnings back to her colleagues at the LCBO that allowed them to have “a conversation and explore, ‘okay what can we do, within our sphere of influence and control, to apply some of these concepts?’” She cites a number of practical tools and guides offered by Crowe and Garcia that were specifically useful to her work: “the Onboarding Action Plan— that was very helpful, and there was also some great resources around unconscious bias and resume screening.”

“Outside of the Certificate in Inclusive Leadership, TRIEC works with employers to help them make their workplaces more diverse and inclusive. So we’re able to bring that experience, that real work expertise, to our program,” Crowe explains.

She says that, “inclusion can, of course, come from all levels in an organization. But it’s particularly critical that leaders have an understanding of inclusion, and that they understand the value it brings to the organization.”

For Khandelwal, that value is clear. She’s passionate about making the LCBO a place where everyone feels included, and after completing the Certificate has worked with her team to develop plans for a number of other inclusion initiatives, starting with the introduction of an onboarding ‘buddy system.’

“At the LCBO, we’re looking at employee experience as a whole, so we’re looking at how we can strengthen the experience of an employee with respect to all the moments that matter in their employee life cycle.” She says this work “is tied to our strategic plan, and to our business priorities.”