The Bridge to Gender Equality Project is pleased to introduce you to Kimberley Messer (She/Her), VP of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) for IGM Financial including IG Wealth Management, Mackenzie Investments and Investment Planning Counsel.
What are you most passionate about?
Helping people find purpose and connection at work and helping them achieve their full potential is at the core of what I think about and what drives me.
When people meet me and we are engaging in conversations around equity and inclusion, they often comment that I am very passionate, they can see that I care deeply about this work. It’s true. I see my role, leading a DEI Strategy, as a privilege and an opportunity that I have been given to make a difference in our workplaces.
I believe our lives become more meaningful through the impact we make on others. Aspiring to do better personally and make a difference in the lives of others drives my passion.
With passion and purpose comes a commitment to ongoing learning and continuous self reflection, to ensure I am equipped to support all communities and identities to address systemic inequities.
This all grew out of the acceptance of myself as a member of the LGBTQ community many years ago. Without that acceptance and eventual awareness that I had a responsibility and a platform to make things better for others, my purpose and passions may not have aligned in the way they did.
Who is your greatest role model?
Over the past 20 years I have been fortunate to work with many amazing, talented people representing diverse identities, genders, sexual orientations, and abilities. For me, role models from every level have influenced me and continue to influence me every day, because they show a passionate commitment towards others and creating equitable workplaces.
If I were to name one person who represents who I aspire to be in this work, and who I admire in the way they influence and impact conversations and actions supporting DEI, it is Jennifer Brown. She has built a 20+ year career bringing diversity, equity and inclusion to corporate spaces and leadership tables as a consultant, speaker, author and expert.
As a white, cisgender, lgbtq identified person (an identity I share), she provides a platform for diverse voices to collectively navigate complex conversations and identities and to bring awareness to and inspire action to address systemic inequities in our workplaces. Among DEI practitioners, she is an influential voice and champion for change.
What is your greatest accomplishment in your career trajectory?
Over the past 25 years I have been given the opportunity to experience many different roles. I started my career as a teacher, then a software developer, a people manager, a business development leader and now a DEI Leader. As I reflect, each new opportunity brought me closer to finding my purpose, supporting people, building connections and helping my team achieve their best.
Today, I am extremely fortunate to be able to fully align my profession with my passions and my purpose. Not enough people get to experience that. So when you ask me about my greatest accomplishment, it is the journey and the fact that I took advantage of each new role and opportunity that led me here. However, embracing my identity along this journey has been a key contributor in empowering me to achieve personal and professional success.
What advice would you give to new or emerging leaders who are building their careers?
My advice to any young professionals is to stay true to who you are and what matters to you. While that might appear to be more difficult in the early stages of your career, I believe that if you stay focused on what motivates you and know what brings meaning to you, you will find roles that align and fulfill that purpose. Another important theme is leadership. There are many ways to lead but understanding what leadership means to you, your principles and your values is important. These values may shift slightly over the years, but aspiring to lead with trust, integrity and with an inclusive lens will always serve you well.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for the next generation?
With any challenge, comes opportunity.
GenZ represents the largest and most diverse generation in history and they will have different expectations about what they need from the workplace. They want more purpose - and they want to see commitment from employers to make a positive social impact. The flexibility that the pandemic accelerated in workplaces over the past two years is here to stay and that aligns with what the next generation is expecting in terms of hybrid work. For a generation that has been raised with technology in hand, technology adoption will be critical to their success in the workplace.
Therefore the challenge and the opportunity, is how employers evolve and respond to those needs. It will require partnership and likely new social contracts between employers and employees. Employers will need to think differently about talent, how we develop and retain. Through my inclusion lens, I see so many opportunities to change our workplaces for the better, if we can work together to create work environments that work for everyone. I am confident we will.
About Kimberley Messer (She/Her)
Kimberley Messer is the VP of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) for IGM Financial including IG Wealth Management, Mackenzie Investments and Investment Planning Counsel. Her mandate is to expand and implement the DE&I strategy across IGM, integrating DE&I with all business and people practices to deliver programs and initiatives that help drive an inclusive employee experience and enable business success.
Prior to joining IGM, Kimberley spent 21 years with IBM, where she was most recently the Global Diversity Business Development Leader for North America and Australia. She advised clients worldwide on how to address LGBTQ2S+/diversity and human capital as strategic business drivers to improve workforce effectiveness, foster collaboration, and stimulate innovation.
Kimberley lives in Toronto with her wife Kirsten and her two children, Joah and Colby.
To learn more about the Bridge to Gender Equality Project, go HERE.