Back in 2006, Sapna Welsh started Leverage HR as a regional firm focused on accelerating organizational leadership and employee development efforts by focusing on diversity. Over the years, the firm has liaised with various business partners and consultants to deliver solutions for a changing landscape of clients and needs. Today, Leverage HR is widely recognized as a leading provider of custom Leadership Development & Coaching, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), and Organizational Effectiveness consulting.

In an interview with Manage HR, Sapna, the Founding Partner at Leverage HR, along with Kim Andrade, Consultant, and Bob Welsh, Partner provided us with insights into how the company develops inclusive work cultures and leads authentic diversity efforts among their clients.

Please shed some light on the extensive experience that Leverage HR has in the DEI space.

Sapna: I’ve been working in the diversity space since the mid 1990’s. The world has changed a lot over the past few decades and so have I. Since the 90’s, I’ve authored two books, lived and worked outside the US, delivered keynotes and TED Talks, and honed my understanding of the challenges individuals and organizations face fully integrating DEI into their organizations.

Additionally, the needs of our broad client based including more global and public sector clients, has challenged us to develop custom, innovative solutions that we’ve developed with our team of highly competent consultants which has enhanced our collective depth of experience. Our team has 15+ years of leadership experience reinforced by rigorous credentialing through organizations like International Coaches Federation (ICF) and Cornell University’s D&I certifications. Together we understand the nuances of how to create inclusive cultures to unlock the power of diversity.

What are the key challenges that businesses face and how does Leverage HR address them?

Kim: The main problems faced by our clients when it comes to DEI are similar—1) attracting and retaining diverse talent and 2) fostering innovation and agility in their teams.

We address these by starting from a metrics and goal-driven approach. Through quantitative and qualitative analysis utilizing internal and external data, we identify gaps and opportunities. From there it’s about creating and aligning a DEI Roadmap that supports their organizational needs. The roadmap only works when the organization realistically has the capability to deploy them, and leadership is fully behind the roadmap. Achieving these outcomes is something we excel at.
Bob: Through this work we’ve also identified several recurring themes that allowed us to develop a few standard offerings. These include the Inclusion to Innovation (I2I) team workshop, the Allyship Incubator(AI), and Worldly Women – The Evolving Role of Women Leaders program. These are proven solutions that we can integrate, and tailor based on a client’s specific needs.

Could you walk us through one of your customer success stories?

Kim: Dynatrace—a technology company— launched their DEI strategy to foster an inclusive and supportive environment that drives their culture and helps them attract, maintain, and invest in the development of their employees. They were doing many things right, however, there wasn’t a concentrated and focused effort that could align DEI with their overall business strategy. While working with the client, we conducted full organizational assessment and undertook a comprehensive data-driven approach to design custom solutions and make positive, measurable changes. As a result, since the start of our partnership, the client is ready to launch a comprehensive DEI initiative, has seen a growth in the number of employee resource groups, and has witnessed improvement in their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) score.

Sapna: One of our key stakeholders says, “I began working with Leverage HR in November of 2020. Their expertise combined with their customer orientation and high level of engagement has positioned our organization to align and engage executive leadership through customer interviews, communication, and a strong steering committee. They’re adept at crafting solutions that are tailor-made to our organization. It has been a pleasure collaborating with them, and I recommend their services to anyone who is interested in moving the DEI efforts forward.”

What does the future hold for Leverage HR?

Bob: As Kim mentioned, the events of the last few years accelerated trends that were already underway. Today’s organizations face the imminent threat of not being able to attract and retain talent in addition to stabilizing work practices and adapting cultures to leverage new capabilities like Artificial Intelligence(AI). Research shows getting inclusion right leads to learning, performance, and innovation - so we will continue to focus on that. And we will continue to pilot new technologies in our own programs, to attract talented team members to scale deployment, and to partner with clients to create real change. It’s an emergent process full of experimentation.

Sapna: What will not change is Leverage HR’s commitment to elevate courageous, authentic leaders to move organizations forward. That has been at our core since the 2006.