Interview with Vice President DEI

DEI makes a Difference

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Anna Fain, Novanta’s new Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Leadership Development, joined us in May 2021 and jumped into action. She spoke with us about the importance of DEI, Novanta’s approach to it, and why it’s here to stay.

Q: Why is investing in DEI important?

A: The data are clear. Organizations that make DEI a part of their culture, ways of working, and business practices have greater innovation and higher revenue growth. The other reason it’s important that companies invest in DEI is that our employees, our customers, our suppliers, and our investors are aware that DEI does make a difference. And as a result, they have come to expect it.

Q: How have you approached growing and developing DEI at Novanta?

A: Novanta received the full support of its Board of Directors and the leadership team as it embarked on this DEI initiative. I stress the word initiative or even journey because we don’t refer to DEI as a program. Programs begin and end, but DEI does not and should not – it needs to be integrated into the organization’s culture and an organization’s culture never ends. An organization’s culture should evolve and transforms itself lest it become stagnant.

Because we are a multinational company, we want to make sure we avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to the programs and projects that we roll out. In 2021, we convened a Culture Council whose purpose and intent is to create a “One Novanta” culture that integrates the business units yet enables them to maintain their unique market brand. The Councilmembers represent a cross-section of Novanta from various business units, different demographic groups, and personal identities. They will provide the governance for our DEI initiative.

The initial work in our DEI journey involved doing the necessary due diligence to assess our employees’ perception of different DEI topics through interviews, employee engagement data, and workforce surveys. A DEI lens was applied to other internal assessments and data. We then benchmarked against our peers and companies that are well known for their DEI initiatives.

Q: What were you most proud of this year?

A: We granted our first two DEI Champion Awards recently. One recipient was the Culture Council. Many of its members had no idea what DEI was when they were selected to participate. They had to educate themselves very quickly while also evangelizing about DEI in their own business units. They also stood up two Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), a women’s ERG and a multi-cultural/international ERG. Additionally, two Working Teams were created to ensure that we avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to our interventions and projects. They provide country insights to make our work relevant and impactful. 

Q: What are your priorities in 2022?

A: Across 2022 and beyond, education and learning and changing behaviors are going to be our priorities. We’re being very realistic about how we approach these. We’re dealing with adults and unless an adult is really motivated to change a behavior, they simply will not. So, we have to be able to create opportunities for them to change their behaviors through learning events and holding people accountable. We’re investing in education for all our employees at Novanta, especially our people leaders. We will help them create an inclusive environment where their current and future employees feel psychologically safe, can be their authentic selves, and contribute fully at work. This is how we develop diversity of thought which is one of the main outputs of DEI. This is how we deliver greater innovation, performance, and employee engagement.

Ultimately DEI is about creating for the future. I think it’s important to spell out DEI – diversity, equity, and inclusion – because sometimes we speak about them so rapidly that people don’t recognize that there are three distinct components to the cultural transformation that we’re seeking.

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Training and Leadership Development

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