Striving for D&I in a Virtual World

Sarah Hassaine, Director of Diversity & Inclusion, ResMed

Sarah Hassaine, Director of Diversity & Inclusion, ResMed

Sarah Hassaine has a proven track record of leading D&I programs and initiatives for the last six years. She developed her career as a strong project manager in international development, business operations, and web design with 15 years of management experience, with seven years being on the people side.

Currently, she is leading the strategic design and implementation of a global strategy across ResMed, designing and delivering trainings on D&I values, evaluating policies and facilities, and managing effective strategic partnerships to drive sourcing, branding, and professional development opportunities. 

In an interview with HR Tech Outlook, Sarah Hassaine sheds light on the upcoming trends in the D&I space. 

What are the recent challenges in the D&I space?

The pandemic and social justice movements in the past two years have propelled companies to take a step back and analyze their culture and find out what inclusion and diversity mean for them. It has raised questions around what organizations are doing for their employees and how they can continue to evolve and be better.

"The pandemic and social justice movements in the past two years have propelled companies to take a step back and analyze their culture and find out what inclusion and diversity mean for them" 

With the pandemic, a lot of the activities that could have been in person now have the extra layer of creating a sense of inclusion and belonging in the remote virtual world. This involves re-examining the methods, toolkits, and communications to continue engaging the employees and make them feel included in a remote world.

What, according to you, are the latest trends emerging in the market?

Companies are now focusing on the fundamentals but have to think about it in hybrid work environments. While companies are realizing the critical importance of building a work culture that's diverse, inclusive, and working towards equity, they are also identifying the challenges and mediums in doing it in this new way of working. More are having listening sessions and focus groups to better understand how their employees feel. These deliberate and conscious attempts to understand the employees and develop the right programs and tools for them are all steps in the positive direction.

What are the current projects you have been working on?

I am one year into my role with ResMed. We have been really focusing on relationship building horizontally across the business and having enterprise training sessions on the concepts and data behind inclusion, diversity, and belonging. We are also focused on community building, forming employee resource groups within the company that enable employees to feel like they're growing, developing, networking with one another—lastly, partnering closely on our sourcing and recruiting strategy.

Could you give us an insight into your leadership strategy?

As I reflect, I can see that my hobbies and passions are reflected in the work I do and have integrated me with all kinds of people—differently-abled, fully-abled, all ages, ethnicities—allowing me to just see the world for what it was at a very young age. I grew up traveling a lot as my entire family lives in North Africa. I was exposed to the beauty of lifestyles and cultures starting at the age of one. And I love to dance, a hobby that is universal and connects me with all kinds of people. I grew up in a household that emphasized community-building work, community service, and activism, like Earth Day fairs, walks for breast cancer, or social justice walks. My father planted the seed of activism in me, and that became part of who I am today as a D&I practitioner. As a lot of what I do involves listening to people share their experiences, the strategy is to understand what I hear and bring it into action to help improve environments. As a strategic analytical person, my personality and self-expression marry with the work I do, and I use my voice to elevate the voice of others. 

How do you see this space evolve in the next five years, considering all the potential disruptions that have taken place?

The most important thing for D&I practitioners and companies now is to be agile. We have to take special care to ensure the journey we are developing around D&I should be flexible and pivot with society, keeping in line with what is happening on a national, regional, and local scale. Eventually, it is all about caring for people, trying to understand their concerns, and continuing to build our emotional intelligence so that the D&I strategies are reflective of how we want them to be. 

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