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Sarah-Jane Martin, managing partner, chief talent officer and associate general counsel of Sprott.Alex Franklin

For most Canadians, “diversity” isn’t top of mind when they think of the investing and mining industries, which are traditionally male-dominated. Despite this backdrop, Sprott Inc., a global leader in precious metals and critical materials investments, views diversity as a key business imperative necessary to achieving its ambitious growth objectives in the coming years.

“The ability to attract, retain and ultimately advance women is a vital attribute for any company to have that is seeking to build as broad a talent and leadership base as possible to compete in an ever-changing world,” says Kevin Hibbert, chief financial officer, senior managing partner and co-head of Enterprise Shared Services at Sprott.

“Our focus is to ensure that we are supporting, recognizing and promoting excellence at Sprott – that there are no barriers, unconscious bias, or other elements preventing our talented people from rising to the top,” says Sarah-Jane Martin, managing partner, chief talent officer and associate general counsel of Sprott.

“There’s a business imperative to that,” adds Ms. Martin. “We want to make sure we have the best people – whether they’re in junior or senior positions – and that we’re supporting our people because they’re our most valuable asset. In our company, a lot of our success comes from the intellectual capital that our employees bring to the table.”

As of April 2024, 24 per cent (seven members) of Sprott’s leadership team and 50 per cent (three members) of its board of directors identify as female. The company has 69 employees in Canada and 64 in the U.S, and 43 per cent of employees, including members of the leadership team, self-identify as BIPOC.

While Sprott has made strides to close the gender gap, it doesn’t hire or promote people “to check boxes,” says Mr. Hibbert. Rather, the company wants to ensure there is a level playing field so talented people advance.

“We’ve always had a strong performance-based culture. We understand that to be successful in that vein, you’ve got to identify the best person for the job who can do it at a high level to the benefit of our shareholder base. This requires us to cast as broad a net as possible into the global talent pool and to ensure there are as few holes as possible in that net that may cause diverse excellence to slip away. We’ve always been that way,” says Mr. Hibbert. “We come by our commitment to diversity quite organically and quite sincerely.”

While Sprott comes by it naturally, the company is formalizing initiatives to increase diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), including developing a long-term strategy and specifying its goals.

As part of its plan, Ms. Martin is visiting Sprott’s offices in Toronto, New York, California and Connecticut, talking to approximately 60 focus groups of employees about the current state of gender equity within the organization, any barriers or challenges women may face in advancing their careers and potential solutions.

“Our women are one of our best resources to learn about what’s important to them in terms of gender diversity and equity at the company,” she says. “When we think about what programming can provide further support to their career advancement, what better place to start than asking our women what they think, need and want. We also recognize that women are not a monolithic group and therefore hearing and respecting intersectional views and experiences is critically important to advancing gender equity and ensuring our efforts are supportive of all identities.”

Initiatives will be drawn from those conversations and constantly revisited, adds Ms. Martin. So far, topics include the importance of Sprott’s flexible, hybrid work arrangements – for both men and women – to balance work and child- and elder-care responsibilities.

Another is Sprott’s “family” atmosphere that supports employees and allows them to “bring their whole self to work,” adds Mr. Hibbert. In the past, the corporate world expected employees to “have a stiff upper lip” and leave their feelings at home, he says. “But that leads to a lot of workplace productivity issues and challenges. I try to say this to all my people in leadership positions: Sometimes it’s okay to have a ‘pens down’ moment and ask, ‘How are you doing?’”

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Kevin Hibbert, chief financial officer, senior managing partner and co-head of Enterprise Shared Services at Sprott.ALEX FRANKLIN

Employees also appreciate that Sprott provides equal parental leave to all new parents, regardless of gender. By offering equal benefits, “it underscores that childcare is a family responsibility issue, not a “women’s issue,” and challenges gendered social norms in the workplace and at home,” Ms. Martin adds.

Beyond the focus groups, Sprott conducts an anonymous employee survey asking people to share things like how they self-identify and their inclusion experience at the company.

The annual survey, which launched last year, also allows the company to measure its progress on DEI and advancing women leaders. Among the findings, 84 per cent of responses given by Sprott employees to questions around equity, belonging and authenticity were favourable.

Last year, Sprott established a 10-member DEI Leadership Committee, which includes three subcommittees on Women’s Engagement, Inclusive Recruitment, and Awareness, to help guide decisions. The company also celebrates a range of diversity and inclusion dates and provides education and resources about these events.

In addition, Sprott is active in several organizations that foster diversity. For example, the company is a top sponsor of Women in Mining Canada (“WIMC”) and funds a scholarship for the recipient of WIMC’s annual Indigenous Student Trailblazer Award. Sprott also encourages women to join professional development and networking organizations focused on the advancement of women, such as Women in ETFs and Women in Capital Markets. Further, Sprott believes supporting the pipeline of future leaders is critically important and is actively involved with student groups that promote diversity in the finance industry.

A vital part of Sprott is that the company’s leadership “champions” its people and supports their career advancement and their ideas, says Ms. Martin, who knows this first-hand. “Kevin [Hibbert] is a champion of mine; Arthur Einav, Sprott’s general counsel and senior managing partner, is also a champion of mine. And that’s critically important – it gives the space for you to have a voice and to advocate for your ideas.”

Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with Sprott. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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