2019 Eastern D&I Practitioner of the Year: Zoya Zayler

Posted in : Blog
Posted on : August 22, 2019

MacKenzie Pudwell

Zoya Zayler leads Accenture’s national D&I strategy as the Canada Inclusion and Diversity Lead. She holds a bachelor’s degree in human resources from York University, and earned her International MBA from the Schulich School of Business after getting hands on work experience at a global company in India and then at Accenture in Toronto. Following the completion of her MBA and her internship in Paris, Zoya came back to Accenture as a HR Specialist where she took on multiple progressive roles within HR before transitioning to Accenture’s global Inclusion and Diversity Center of Expertise. In this role Zoya led the company’s global strategy for LGBT inclusion, further igniting her passion for D&I and ultimately positioning her to take on the role of the Canada Inclusion and Diversity Lead.

Zoya believes her primary role as the Canada I&D Lead is to influence and support others into becoming inclusive champions in alignment with Accenture’s I&D commitment to foster an exceptionally inclusive culture that leverages its rich diversity. Diversity and inclusion efforts are important to Zoya on a personal level. As a Canadian- Russian immigrant woman, she can relate to the feeling of looking from the outside in and over the years has developed important friendships with LGBTQ2S+ friends that instilled in her the desire to help stand up for others’ rights.

At Accenture, inclusion and diversity are fundamental to the company’s culture and embedded in its core values. As a global company with offices and operations in more than 52 countries, I&D values anchor the organization across the world due to the core belief that rich diversity makes the company stronger, smarter and more innovative. This strong commitment is particularly important given Accenture’s ‘culture of cultures’ that goes hand in hand with its global footprint and extremely client facing business. Zoya identifies diversity and inclusion as a core corporate value with the flexibility to recognize that all communities are different and are at different levels of diversity and inclusion work themselves.

One of Zoya’s big wins was the implementation of a significant diversity and inclusion intervention at Accenture that built the foundation for action plans at the local level and got the executive team directly involved. This initiative was a win as it built a bold approach to strategic conversations on diversity, inclusion, and unconscious bias, and has kept the ball rolling as they continue to focus on their aspiration to become the most inclusive and diverse company in Canada. CCDI sees Zoya’s initiation of this project and creation of space for these conversations as being instrumental in the continued development of Accenture Canada’s diversity and inclusion journey.

We asked Zoya to reflect on what she wants practitioners and organizations to know about the building of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

“Remember that this is a journey, that Accenture is where we are today because of the work, time and conversations we’ve put in and will continue to put in to take us farther.”

Zoya reiterated that having the buy in from their CEO, leadership team and diversity and inclusion council made all the difference in the success of the different projects she works on because meaningful initiatives that have the greatest impact are championed from the top. Without full buy in, Zoya sees diversity and inclusivity at risk of becoming siloed, making it more difficult to make a lasting and meaningful impact. In addition, in order to pivot from actions to outcomes, she encourages practitioners to ensure there is a clearly communicated and defined business case for I&D, that I&D is treated as any other strategic business priority – with rigor, goals and a long-term plan that’s continuously monitored and iterated – and that there are explicit targets and metrics to track progress and hold leaders accountable.

Tags Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion Awards of Success Awards of Success 2019 CDNdiversity Accenture Canada CCDI

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