DEI Voices: Sarah Sheikh - People and Culture Lead at Moves Financial Inc

February 28, 2023
DEI Voices: Sarah Sheikh - People and Culture Lead at Moves Financial Inc

How can an organization with operations across the globe, and employees who work under different timezones ensure that everyone feels included and that events happen when they’re online?

We caught up with Sarah who is the People and Culture Lead for Moves Financial Inc based in Toronto, Canada. She has been with the company for two and a half years and has focused on creating an inclusive company culture built on feedback and transparency.

Originally from Belgium and a relative newcomer to Canada, Sarah is passionate about diversity in all aspects of her day-to-day life and loves to connect with others who bring joy to those around them.

1. What exactly do you do as People and Culture Lead?

I am Sarah and I am the People and Culture Lead at Moves! People ask me what that job title means and it really comes down to supporting my colleagues and making the workplace feel welcoming and inclusive. I organize social events, events where we learn from other cultures, and all the HR tasks that come with that.

2. You organized social events for your colleagues. What are the peculiarities of organizing such events in a multicultural work environment?

One of the biggest challenges of organizing events is that we are spread out throughout Canada and the USA and we work in different time zones. Our events are either social–which are just for fun and bonding–and the other type of events we do are what we call cultural events. These are sessions where we learn about other cultures or ways of being. Examples of events I’ve organized are learning sign language, hearing from people around the world…we’ve virtually visited Ukraine, Ireland, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Columbia, and many others. This year, I have already organized two cultural events for Lunar New Year and Black History Month. We also try to get together in person at least once per year; last year, the whole company went to a resort an hour north of Toronto to spend a few days together. It's a lot of planning but the reward is significant.

3. What DEI initiatives have you implemented while working in Moves?

My main goal is for everyone to learn about different cultures and ways of being in ways that are inclusive and welcoming. We don't run mandatory sessions but instead cultural events where colleagues can learn something new. Two initiatives that I brought in that we now use on a daily basis is trying to eradicate the use of the term “guys” and using a more inclusive word. Another example is renaming our meetings from being called “stand-ups” to “huddle” to promote a more inclusive term.

4. What success stories stand out to you?

We are really proud of all of our initiatives as it resulted in 100 percent of our colleagues’ saying that Moves is a great place to work in a recent external survey. We have been included in the Great Place To Work list in Canada two years in a row, so we are clearly on the right path but there is always room for improvement.

5. Tell us about a time when you have taken steps to ensure that everyone felt included.

I organize several virtual events and I always ensure that the events happen at a time where everyone is online. As we work across many different time zones, it's important to ensure that everyone feels like they can be part of an event. I often ask what type of events our employees want to see and I try to organize where I can. I also try to include everyone in those events. For example, we ran a Lunar New Year event last week and I ensured that it was hosted by one of our employees who celebrated this holiday.

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