Sahera Sumar, Founder, ARETESahera Sumar, Founder
Women form an integral part of today’s modern workforce yet when we talk about leadership, they lag behind their male counterparts facing numerous challenges in equity, diversity, and inclusion. The Global Gender Gap Report (WEF 2021) recently identified that it will take 135.6 years to close this worldwide gender gap – extended by one more generation after the COVID pandemic. Also identified, is the significant lack of women in leadership positions, with women representing just 27% of all manager positions. However, this decreases significantly when we talk about women of intersectionality i.e. diversity, underprivilege, disadvantage etc. This presents a dire situation for both global and local companies who fail to recognize the value of inclusive leadership and who need to strengthen their female talent leadership pipeline. Organizations that have a representative number of women in management and leadership roles have shown to have greater productivity, creativity, resilience, and innovation impacting the bottom line.

Against this backdrop, Sahera founded Arete: Full Potential which is a global leadership consulting firm, focused on enhancing the diversity, inclusion, and equity strategy. Sahera works with organizations on three levels: the System, the Structure, and the Self. The System: assessing and understanding the Systemic culture towards inclusion, conscious and unconscious bias she provides culture transformational solutions; the Structure: a review of structures and policies supporting inclusion throughout the employee life cycle – recruitment, performance, development, promotion, reward, recognition. The Self: where she delivers “self-leadership” programs to empower women within your organization to rise to their leadership potential. This approach requires working from the executive level to the frontline staff and even with graduates to co-design impactful modern-day solutions using the best of neuro leadership and positive psychology in her facilitation and coaching. She says that “Organizations may appear to embrace diversity, but they struggle to be truly inclusive and to leverage their diversity advantage” to be inclusive of diverse experience, ideas, and creativity.

Arete: Full Potential also works with organizations to ensure that their Mission, Vision, and Values are reflective of their D&I strategy and that the diversity of their customer base and workforce “Does the diversity in your leadership team reflect that of your employees and your customers?” and “Are you benefiting from the value of your diverse workforce or just assimilating and neutralising them?” are some of the questions, Sahera will ask the organizations she works with.

More recently taking her 15+ years of global corporate experience in 20 countries, Sahera launched a purpose-driven social enterprise called Worldwide SHEroes (WWS). This online platform provides an opportunity for women leaders from diverse and disadvantaged to accelerate their leadership journey. Worldwide Sheroes brings accomplished Women within 10 industry sectors to mentor aspiring women from disadvantaged situations and emerging economies. This initiative enhances the merit her contributions to the her corporate clients as Worldwide Sheroes dovetails into the CSR, talent diversity and inclusive leadership strategy for many organizations. When you partner with WWS, the senior women of your organization join the global platform of mentors working with emerging women on various levels of career enhancement and strengthing leadership capacity. To date, WWS has enabled 550+ hours of mentoring for women in Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan, and many more. As a Director on the Executive Committee of the United Nations Australian Association (NSW), spearheading the Human Rights agenda, Sahera is motivated to create an even playing field for all women to rise to their leadership potential.

Real Impact

Arete: Full Potential success stories are wide and varied. Sahera’s holistic model for leadership strengthening is a coalesce and alignment of the organisation’s strategy, culture, and leadership.

One such example is a manufacturing company based in 8 African countries consisting of a diverse population of locals, nationals, and ex-pats with the ongoing challenge of integration and lack of cohesion. Sahera has worked to realign the organizational culture and leadership to deliver its vision / strategy. Through redefining the Mission, Vision, and Values and then strengthing the leadership capacity of senior and group managers to drive a more inclusive, aligned culture. Through the multiple workshops, leadership sessions, and surveys, creating a more agile, resilient, and sustainable organization empowered to scale and expand.