By Neil Armstrong
|From left: Julian Franklin, Naki Osutei, Hazel Claxton, Andre Nunes, Tiffany Gooch and Delofante Atkins at the panel discussion, 'Black on Bay Street - Diversity & Inclusion.'|
Throughout the day participants convened in breakout sessions under the conference’s theme “The Future of Financing” to focus on emerging trends that are changing finance.
Writing on the future of finance in the day’s program, CAUFP notes that: “The World Economic Forum contends that disruption in the financial sector will not be a “one-time event,” but more a “continuous pressure to innovate” that will change the long-term structure of the finance industry.”
The panel included: Naki Osutei, director, partnerships & engagement, TD Bank; Hazel Claxton, EVP & CHRO, Morneau Shepell; Andrew Nunes, partner, Fasken; Julian Franklin, SVP/MD, Geometry Global; and Tiffany Gooch, consultant, Enterprise & Ensight Canada moderated by Delofante Atkins, manager, talent & inclusion, Matrix360.
Discussing what is means to be black on Bay Street, the centre of Toronto’s financial district, Gooch said it was a matter of using her access to create space for more people to be there too.
Nunes said it is being in a position of great opportunity but also of great responsibility and trying to make a path for those who are coming behind.
Claxton said while growing up in high school and when she entered corporate Canada she was the only black person. She learned how to navigate but it didn’t feel very different from the world she grew up in.
Franklin said he always felt that he belonged on Bay Street and that it was about being comfortable in his own skin.
Regarding misconceptions by their peers in the workplace, Nunes said there is the idea that he is the exception to the rule and that most other black individuals can’t do what he does. He noted that it is an uphill battle to climb “once we get in the door.”
Franklin said microaggression is an interesting thing and sometimes people can be pigeonholed which is tough to break. There is unconscious bias, he said, but he thinks organizational agility is keen in the workplace.
Claxton said her workplace is very male-dominated and what she learned, as an introvert, is that there is a bias towards extroverts over introverts.
Being an introvert and a woman meant she had to think about how she was going to operate differently. She had to strengthen her voice and so she did so through joining Toastmasters and other organizations.
Responding to a question about creating opportunities for other black individuals in their workplace, Osutei said sometimes there is fear and hesitation about coaching people who are coming up.
“We need mentors across the board and for different reasons,” she said.
Osutei referenced an instance in which she was championing covertly an intern in her workplace but tried not to get too visibly close to the person for fear that her colleagues would accuse her of preferential treatment.
The young black woman, who might have thought Osutei was cold towards her, was eventually hired and became a very good employee of the company.
Both Claxton and Nunes spoke about the importance of mentorship and sponsorship in the workplace.
“We have to be willing to be sponsored and nurtured by others,” said Nunes, noting that he had an unexpected mentor who wasn’t black.
Claxton, who plans to retire at the age of 58 this year, underscored the value of mentors and sponsors who help people in the workplace to understand the unwritten rules.
Franklin emphasized organizational agility, that is to use what is good out of those institutions to “pole vault” to where you want to be.
Gooch thinks it is important to focus on building the most authentic relationship as possible.
The CAUFP is a member-based resource organization providing a link between corporations and the black communities through education, information, and programs to facilitate economic empowerment.
For the past 20 years, the organization has established itself as a centre of excellence for the advancement and inclusion of black leaders in the Canadian financial services industry.
“We serve members and a network from across the GTA who are involved in a diverse range of finance-related professions, law, real estate, and consulting among others. While our mandate is focused on the black community, our membership and past Board members continue to include the broader visible minority community,” notes the CAUFP.
The organization held a “Black on Bay Ball” event last night to celebrate its 20th anniversary and to conclude its weekend of activities.