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Inspiring an Inclusive Future

As the new Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) at Winpak, my professional journey has been intertwined with my deep personal commitment to championing diversity, inclusion and respect.  As a male ally in the journey towards gender equality in the workplace, I have the responsibility to use my position to ensure systemic change that enables women to thrive.  However, it’s not just my profession that shapes my perspective on these important issues.  As a father of three young women, ages 25 and 23 (twins), my understanding of the significance of International Women’s Day goes beyond workplace discussions and HR initiatives.  It resonates deeply within my home, where empowerment and advancement of women and the challenges they face are not just abstract concepts but form our experience.

International Women’s Day (IWD), celebrated annually on March 8th, serves as a reminder of the progress made in women’s rights and the ongoing journey towards gender equality and inclusion – this year’s IWD theme.  It’s a day to honor the achievements of women who influence our lives, acknowledge the challenges they continue to face, and recommit to fostering a world in which every woman has the opportunity to fully participate and succeed.  This hits close to home for me as I wear both my personal and professional hats.

In my capacity as a Human Resources leader, I’ve had the privilege of spearheading initiatives aimed at promoting gender diversity and inclusion since I launched the first diversity council in 2002 at   one of the Big Four professional services firms.  From there, I have made it my professional mission to embed diversity and inclusion into all talent related practices I lead including leadership development tailored to address gender-biased challenges, and accessible gender-neutral recruiting, pay and promotion practices.  My goal at Winpak is to implement a diversity lens in all our talent related practices and through communication, feedback and accountability, involve employees in our progress.  Diversity and inclusion are not just initiatives and policies, they are core principles that must permeate our day to day thinking and choices to have real impact.

My commitment to gender equality extends beyond the confines of work. It is rooted in my role as a father, where I have been involved firsthand in the unique challenges and wins associated with raising three daughters in a society still grappling with gender biases.  Each of my daughters has charted her path, navigating the complexities of education, entering the workforce and relationships.  From their earliest years, I have tried to instill in them the belief that their gender should never present a barrier to achieving their goals.  I encouraged them to pursue their interests, and challenge societal norms that may limit their personal and professional growth.  At the same time, we were mindful of the realities they would inevitably encounter – glass ceilings, unconscious (and many times conscious) biases, and societal expectations that could block their progress and erode their confidence.  My role as their dad is, more now than ever, to reinforce their resolve and help them build the strategies and skills they need to realize their goals.  One of the aspects of being their dad that I take most seriously is continuing to receive calls from them asking for my thoughts and advice on issues they are encountering.  While I do not live their experience, my daughters enhance my empathy and understanding of the challenges women face and strengthen my resolve to play a positive role in eliminating bias and barriers.

For me, the power of diversity is a given.  Different perspectives and backgrounds present us with an opportunity to supercharge innovation, service, market penetration and help us succeed personally and as a business.  The catalyst that enables us to leverage the differences we all bring to the table is inclusiveness.  How every one of us actively tries, every day, to help others feel welcome, respected and involved, builds the trust we need to enable our people to realize their full potential.

On this International Women’s Day, I’m reflecting on the progress we’ve made but also the work that lies ahead for us all at Winpak.  As a CHRO, I’m committed to leveraging my experience and influence to inspire inclusion in all our interactions and work practices.  As a father, my commitment goes beyond policy changes and corporate initiatives.  It’s about fostering a mindset of equality and respect that transcends our generation and ensures that my daughters and future generations of women can fully participate and succeed in a world that sees gender and other differences as strengths.

Sean McConkey
Sean McConkey
Chief Human Resources Officer
Winnipeg, MB Canada

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