by:  Barron’s featuring JC Abusaid, President, COO

Welcome to The Big Q, our regular feature where we ask top advisors and wealth management executives for their best answers to challenging questions. Join the conversation with your peers by using the comments section below, and check back for additional answers and reader feedback. The latest question: How are you advancing diversity in the workplace?

“Detailed expectations for operating in an inclusive environment. Ensure every individual feels comfortable being who they are, and is provided opportunities to integrate their identity and culture in the workplace. Lead by example and regularly seek opportunities to support organizations that advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. For example, when my partner and I built our team, we believed in equality in numbers. We intentionally sought talented women and recruited them to start with a team of equal voices. Both female team members and clients need to not only feel included, but empowered. We first began setting this example years ago by having a team with equal seats at the table.” —Hanane Lemlih, private wealth financial advisor, Wells Fargo

“We don’t just want to build diversity, because that’s a numbers game. Our goal is to be truly inclusive. Everyone on the team has something to contribute: to the team, to our clients, and to us individually. I encourage everyone on our team to speak up, and really own their part of the practice. It then becomes everyone else’s job to listen—really listen—to what our teammates are offering. Sometimes that’s a professional recommendation, and sometimes it’s a personal perspective. We all have to be able to consider that different point of view, me included.” —Sue van der Linden, wealth advisor, Morgan Stanley

“We encourage associates to engage in the community and participate in initiatives they feel passionate about. Last year, we put in place an initiative where associates get paid time off (one day a week) to volunteer and engage with a cause they identify with. The idea is that we are empowering associates to be part of the solution, to engage, and make a difference.” —JC Abusaid, president, Halbert Hargrove

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