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Neelam Sahota, CEO, is breaking down barriers at DIVERSEcity

DIVERSEcity's CEO Neelam Sahota celebrates ten years of bridging the space between the business and non-profit sectors.


BCBusiness DIVERSEcity

Credit: DIVERSEcity

DIVERSEcity’s CEO Neelam Sahota celebrates ten years of bridging the space between the business and non-profit sectors.

When Neelam Sahota, FCPA, FCGA, took a part-time position at DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society to “test the waters,” she had no idea that she would one day be at its helm. This year marks a decade of her leading DIVERSEcity with a bold strategy of growth and innovation.

Sahota has more than 20 years’ experience in financial management, strategic planning, and risk and operations management. Developing innovative business strategies to maximize collective impact has been the cornerstone of her career.

Prior to 2008, she was enjoying an exciting career in aerospace when she took time off for maternity leave. This was her chance to reflect on how to move forward in her career as a racialized woman leader carrying the added title of “mother.”

She came across DIVERSEcity, which set roots in Surrey 45 years ago as an immigrant settlement organization serving diverse and under-represented groups with impactful, equitable and culturally safe programs and services.

“I saw the way people at DIVERSEcity were connected and decided I could see myself finding a space there,” she says.

The fit was so strong, she never looked back. “I went from director to CFO, and in 2013, I was asked to step in as acting CEO,” Sahota says. “Less than a year later, I took a breath and accepted the offer to lead the registered charity.”

In addition to expanding its services in settlement, employment and mental health, she dove full throttle into pushing boundaries in the non-profit sector by helping the BIPOC-led organization become financially strong by launching two social enterprises.

“I’ve never looked at DIVERSEcity as a passive organization that things happen to,” Sahota says. “We are deciding how we paint our own path forward.”

She took her vision to the bank—literally—securing seed funding for the organization’s first social enterprises—DIVERSEcity Interpretation & Translation Services, the province’s largest of its kind, providing employment to 300 people, and DIVERSEcity Skills Training Centre, which offers computer and workplace skills courses.

“We create opportunities for people to get their first work experiences doing social good, while earning profit for our charitable work,” Sahota says. “The social finance ecosystem is a $20 billion market, and there are key roles organizations like ours can play to reimagine what capital and a sustainable future look like.”

DIVERSEcity is seeking to expand its partnerships in the for-profit sector for social impact programming and key events, such as its AGM and DIVERSEcity Awards of Impact; DIVERSEcity Entrepreneur & Small Business Fair; its DIVERSEtalks: Conversations for Change panel series; and two signature events—Black in BC and Women’s Leadership Forum.

“Any organization with a forward-thinking agenda, who wishes to advance equity initiatives, women’s leadership and forward-looking ideas from environmental or sustainability perspectives, need not look any further,” Sahota says. “We are here.”

Learn more about DIVERSEcity at

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Created by BCBusiness in partnership with DIVERSEcity