Pay It Forward: Making diversity a reality

“Lift while you climb,” isn’t just a saying for Juggy Sihota, vice president of consumer health at TELUS. It’s what she does every day.

“As you move forward in your career, you need to bring people forward,” she says.  “There is lots of room, especially for women. It can be harder for them to move forward.”

When Sihota started out in the telecommunications industry 20 years ago, she said she encountered some unexpected perceptions. “I had never thought about myself as young, a minority and a woman.  But how people perceive you can affect your career. It was a point of reflection for me.”

Challenging the status quo

As Sihota’s career advanced, she was determined to make a difference, starting with hiring practices. “That’s how you make diversity a reality,” she says. “You put your money where your mouth is.”

In doing so, she built one of the most diverse teams in her company. Prior to her current role, Sihota led a national team of 300 people in customer experience operations. When she first took the job 13 years ago, she was the only non-white woman in the division, which was comprised of a “relatively homogeneous” group of technicians and managers.  Sihota changed that by recruiting team members with different backgrounds, skills, and experiences. One colleague said that Sihota “challenged traditional gender and social stereotypes around leadership and success.”

Sihota’s efforts paid off. By promoting a culture of openness and diversity, her team has been able to consistently deliver top business results, said her colleague. Sihota’s initiatives have had a lasting impact not only for the team, but for the entire company which attracts strong leaders across all ethnicities and backgrounds. As a result, in November 2016, she received the Diversity Champion Award at TELUS.

Commitment to mentorship

The award also recognized Sihota’s emergence as a role model and her strong commitment to mentorship. Many of her team members stepped forward to provide testimonials to support her nomination for the award. As one business consultant stated, “Juggy has been a constant source of support and my guiding compass when it comes to key decisions. I don’t think she will ever truly know or grasp the profound impact she has had on the person I’ve become.”

Sihota says she’s grateful for the help she’s had in her career and paying it forward provides personal fulfillment.  As another saying goes, she says “money doesn’t make you happy unless you spend it on someone else.”

This is one of a series of stories inspired by the Pay It Forward theme from the 2016 Women in the Channel Luncheon. 

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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