As we continue our commitment to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at Plative, we set out to celebrate Black History Month throughout all of February. We supported black-owned businesses during our annual vision meeting and we learned how Miata King overcame challenges throughout her career journey. To close out the month, we brought Plativites together for a learning opportunity and open dialogue with strong leaders that are driving change within our communities.
Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee hosted The Power of Mentorship, a virtual event that allowed our people to take time out of their workday to learn, engage, and feel empowered to get involved and drive change.
Plative’s Regional Vice President, Jeff St. Louis led the discussion with our esteemed guest speakers, Marco Cator, a founding member of Black Ladders, and Denise Herrera, former CEO of Toronto Caribbean Carnival and former Board Member of Destination Toronto and the Harbourfront Centre.
Denise, Marco, and Jeff shared their personal stories around their journey with mentorship in the black community and how it has impacted their lives.
“The challenge for me growing up and throughout my professional career was that it was hard to find examples of what is possible for black adolescents. Countless examples of CEOs, Lawyers, Doctors, Investment bankers, and Leaders as a whole across my network but none of them looked like me…that had a negative impact on my perception of what was actually possible for me. The lack of examples not only can distort your own view of what is achievable, but also the opinion of those around you.” – Jeff St. Louis, RVP, Plative
The event created an open dialogue and safe space for people of diverse backgrounds to understand the importance of mentorship and how it has helped our communities. Plativites learned how they can get involved and how to more deeply empathize with one another.
“It’s really important to acknowledge that [systematic racism] exists and in order to understand that, it’s important to learn about the history of black individuals…I would encourage you all to get more informed so that you are more sensitive to those issues and better understand and appreciate the people that you may mentor in the future.” Marco Cator, Founding Member, BlackLadders
The insight from our speakers led to three key takeaways and a few book recommendations on how we can learn and become more aware –
- Acknowledge that racial inequality and systematic racism exist
- Talk, have an open dialogue with others, and ask questions
- Be aware of everything that is taking place. In order to be aware, you need to educate yourself by reading books and articles and listening to podcasts on the topic.
Book Recommendations –
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein
- Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
- The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
If you’d like to learn more about mentorship within the black community and/or would like to get involved in a mentorship program, please check out Black Ladders. Black Ladders is a mentorship program started in Ottawa that connects mentors to mentees across various disciplines and educational levels. Black Ladders truly believes that this mentorship program will provide mentees with access to the expertise and lived experiences of their mentors and will also help to reduce the unemployment rate, poverty rate, pay gap and increase executive presence.
You can watch the session on-demand here.