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Sarah Kaplan, Professor of Strategic Management, Rotman School of Management & Sonya Kunkel, Chief Diversity Officer & VP, Talent Strategies, BMO Financial Group spoke together on October 02, 2015 on Meritocracy: From Myth to Reality

Event Synopsis

Sponsored by BMO Financial Group

“Meritocracy: From Myth to Reality” explores and suggests a tension that exists in corporate and investment communities: we believe that we operate in a meritocracy, but the evidence increasingly suggests that we do not. Instead, our systems for evaluating people and investments are skewed in unintended ways. Our frames of reference and procedures contain implicit biases that devalue women’s contributions and reinforce the privileges of dominant groups. Surprisingly, research shows that the belief in meritocracy may get in the way of actual meritocracy because it gives evaluators permission not to watch out for bias. The presentation will also identify a set of practical actions any organization can take to move towards a true meritocracy. Following Sarah Kaplan’s presentation, she will be joined in conversation with Sonya Kunkel, Chief Diversity Officer & VP, Talent Strategies of BMO Financial Group to discuss BMO’s experience and journey in minimizing cultural blind spots through inclusive leadership. Sarah Kaplan & Sonya Kunkel’s conversation will explore how large organizations can move towards a true meritocracy as the title suggests.

About the Speakers

Sarah Kaplan is Professor of Strategic Management at Rotman. She is a co-author of the bestselling business book, Creative Destruction. Her research explores how framing processes of managers and entrepreneurial actors affect the evolution of technologies, organizational response to change, and strategy making inside organizations. Her studies examine the biotechnology, fiber optics, personal digital assistant, financial services and nanotechnology fields. She is Senior Editor at Organization Science, and Associate Editor for The Academy of Management Annals, and sits on the Editorial Boards of Administrative Science Quarterly and Organization Studies.

Sonya Kunkel is Chief Diversity Officer & Vice President, Talent Strategies, Talent Management, BMO Financial Group. She has an enterprise-wide responsibility (Canada & U.S.) for the bank’s talent and diversity and inclusion strategies. Throughout a decade of research and consulting, she has specialized in understanding the experiences of women, visible minorities, and Aboriginal peoples, particularly their experiences in the workplace. Formerly Vice-President and Senior Research Director for Environics Research Group, she led Environics Institute’s 2010 Urban Aboriginal Peoples Study (, a research project that captured the stories and experiences of thousands of First Nations peoples, Métis and Inuit living in Canadian cities and generated much national and international attention. Sonya has an undergraduate degree in Peace and Conflict Studies, an M.A. in Political Economy and an MBA in Strategic Management from the Schulich School of Business.

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