Leading while Black

We asked four of Canada’s Black corporate leaders for advice on dealing with racism in the boardroom

When she was a teenager, Jennifer Jackson’s family moved from an all-Black neighbourhood in Philadelphia to Hershey, Pennsylvania, a community almost exclusively white.

“It was the first of what would be most of the rest of my educational and professional career being one of the only minorities. I guess I learned how to deal with that early, and I see that as a positive,” Jackson says.

In high school, she applied for a summer program that pushed underrepresented minorities into science. There she listened to a young chemical engineer discuss her job designing a polymer used to make windshield glass shatterproof. “I remember the moment … I could see [engineering] applied to real life in a way that, in this particular case, actually helped save lives,” she says.

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Corporate leaders pledge support for diversity at BlackNorth Summit

More than 200 CEOs, representing over $1 trillion in market capitalization, signed on to pledge

Canadian companies must make a firm commitment to fighting anti-Black systemic racism for the good of both the Black community and the economy at large. This message was sung in unison at the BlackNorth Initiative Summit July 20, as pledges from more than 200 CEOs across Canada poured in supporting the cause. 

The online broadcast, which was watched live by more than 3,000 people, was organized by the recently forged Canadian Council of Business Leaders Against Anti-Black Systemic Racism in partnership with the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce.

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How to colour-correct corporate Canada’s diversity problem

Less than 1% of TSX60 leaders are Black, but BlackNorth Initiative is driving change at the top

Two people are interviewing for a job. One is bright, qualified and Black; the other, less impressive, but white. The hiring manager, who has a history of racism, places the Black applicant’s resumé in the “reject” pile.

Until recently, that’s how many may have imagined anti-Black racism in business: isolated acts of discrimination performed by a prejudiced few. But the death of George Floyd – an unarmed 46-year-old Black man killed by a Minneapolis police officer onMay 25 – and the widespread protests that have erupted globally in response are forcing Canada’s business community to rethink racism.

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