January 5 2018

Experience What's Next: Leading a Diverse Team

HR, Experience What's Next

Experience What’s Next – monthly tips from our HR Department.

MaryJo Loparco, Talent Acquisition Director



Diversity & Inclusion continues to be an often discussed topic and priority in many areas of life. We see it play out in politics, the corporate world and more specifically, in our sports and entertainment industry.

As the Director of Talent Acquisition for Octagon, it’s my job to lead our Talent Acquisition team in attracting, engaging and introducing a diverse talent pool that varies, not only in ethnicity and gender, but also in socioeconomic, cognitive, societal and occupational ways.

Typically, when I think about D&I it’s through the lens of my job and the goals my team has set out to achieve. A bit closer to home, it’s been interesting for me to consider the diversity within my own team and how it has impacted our work.

Diverse teams hold (potentially) different views, understandings and values. While these differences can create friction, I have seen how those differences can also improve the work and lead to better results. So I concern myself with not only meeting our external goals, but effectively leading my diverse team and engendering a sense of inclusion and positivity.

I acknowledge that building and encouraging Diversity & Inclusion within the workplace is an ongoing process and needs to be a priority each day, so while I continue to work at it and improve, I’ve found the following to be beneficial for my team.


Create a safe space. It’s ok for your team members to have different points of view. In fact, that’s one of the benefits of having a diverse team! But if your team does not feel safe, they may keep comments and opinions to themselves. Create an environment that encourages your team to voice their opinions - a safe space where there is respect and open-mindedness.


Embrace disagreement. Early on as a manager I thought success meant my team was always perfectly aligned. As my confidence grew as a leader, I realized I didn’t want everyone to agree with me. Team members willing to share different viewpoints helped spark discussion, fuel new approaches to old problems, and ultimately led to outcomes which improved our work. Ultimately, it’s my job to make a decision and choose our course, but a fresh perspective is always welcome.


Know what makes them tick. Getting to know my team members’ interests and passions outside of our day-to-day work has helped me understand how and why they approach their jobs. That insight also helps provide more context and dimension when working to understanding their perspectives. I’m not advocating that we all have to be best friends, but having a personal connection and additional lens to view one another through helps foster empathy, respect, tolerance and open-mindedness.


Be curious. Ask questions. Continue to learn. The more comfortable our team has become with one another and our differences, the more apt we are to ask each other questions that stem from the various diversity dimensions: age, cognitive, societal, cultural, gender, race & ethnicity and disability. This means we’re always learning from one another. Striving to understand how our co-workers view a challenge or an issue allows us to learn and better understand different perspectives.


My team members Mary Sirico, Kierra Holroyd and Laura Gabriel inspire me as a leader and I love coming to work every day knowing that we are going to challenge one another to do our best and most authentic work.



Octagon’s Talent Acquisition team has a blast engaging with talent interested in the field of sports and entertainment marketing. We are always on the look-out for ways in which to match them with our great opportunities.