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INSPIRE 20 Podcast: Sari Brody, IKEA

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Linda Rosencrance Freelance writer/editor
 

A thought leader in equality, diversity, and inclusion for over 25 years, Sari Brody learned early on the importance of fighting for fairness—a fight she continues to this day around the globe.

Brody is a former member of the World Economic Forum's Global Future Council, taking part in setting the future direction of equality and inclusion.

Here's what she learned throughout her career at IKEA about diversity.

The INSPIRE 20 podcast series

Brody, the former global head of equality, diversity, and inclusion at IKEA Group, is one of the executives taking part in INSPIRE 20, a podcast series that showcases 20 executives from around the world who are making a difference in terms of inclusion and diversity in their organizations, communities, and/or in their industries.

 

Listen to the podcast with Sari Brody on Apple PodcastsSoundCloud, or Spotify. Plus: Listen to all of the INSPIRE 20 podcasts here

A passion for fairness

When she was in seventh grade, Brody was part of the school integration program in her hometown of Tel Aviv, Israel. The program was put in place to integrate the southern and the northern parts of the city, which were divided by cultural and socioeconomic factors.

In middle school, students were bused from Brody's neighborhood in the south of Tel Aviv into the north, then all were tested before being placed in the right academic level, she said in the INSPIRE 20 podcast.

However, the results of those tests didn't arrive on time and school officials just placed Brody's entire school into the lowest academic levels, assuming that lower socioeconomic backgrounds indicated lower academic capabilities.

"So that was where my passion to fight for fairness began," Brody said. "Because then I had to go and assert myself and tell the story that I was actually in a gifted program in elementary school, and my levels . . . were quite high. So they moved me to the highest-level classes. For me, it was a little bit of a teaching into the power of the individual, but also how important it is to fight for fairness because people will have stereotypes."

A leading voice for equality and inclusion at Ikea

Brody introduced and launched equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) initiatives throughout IKEA and provided a strategic direction with a systematic approach for integrating the topic into the overall business strategy.

During her 20 years with IKEA, she also established a worldwide network of more than 80 ambassadors, who jointly developed a global gender equality strategy and implemented it in their respective countries. In this podcast, Brody discusses the success that the 80 IKEA ambassadors had around the local adaptations of the initiative.

Her keys to success: Passion and compassion

Currently an EDI consultant and speaker, Brody explains what she learned throughout her career at IKEA about diversity around the world. She also offers advice to help leaders drive inclusion and diversity within their organizations.

"Based on my experience, it would be about passion and compassion," she said. "Because when you have passion for a topic, you will be inclined to learn, to listen, and to engage others to understand compassionately."

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