EllisDon CEO signs BlackNorth Initiative to end anti-Black racism

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

EllisDon’s President and CEO Geoff Smith joined The Canadian Council of Business Leaders Against Anti-Black Systemic Racism last week, signing the BlackNorth CEO pledge.

The initiative invites senior executives across Canada from the top 250 TSX companies to devote key organizational changes and actions to address, change and end anti-Black systemic racism.

The Canadian Council of Business Leaders Against Anti-Black Systemic Racism officially launched the BlackNorth Initiative with the signing of the CEO pledge at the inaugural BlackNorth Initiative Summit on July 21. The pledge commits business leaders and their organizations to specific actions and targets designed to end anti-Black systemic racism. To date, over 200 organizations have signed the pledge.

“Today’s summit is only the first step on a mission critical journey to dismantle anti-Black systemic racism in corporate Canada.” said Wes Hall, Founder and Chairman of The Canadian Council of Business Leaders Against Anti-Black Systemic Racism. “I hope that we can look back and say this event was the tipping point.”

The list of supporting organizations includes companies of all sizes, industries and mandates, including; financial services, education, extractive industries, professional services, healthcare, online services, consulting, manufacturing, small to medium sized firms, business associations, private companies, and more.

“Signing the BlackNorth Initiative CEO pledge is only one step in acknowledging and eliminating anti-Black racism within EllisDon,” Smith said. “We are committed to providing a safe environment, equal opportunity and support for our Black employees and youth entering the workforce, while maintaining an inclusive environment with strong opportunities for advancement and growth for everyone at this company.”

Through the pledge, CEOs commit to various targeted actions to fight anti-Black systemic racism throughout their companies. Some goals include diverse and inclusive teams, open dialogue and communication about anti-Black racism in the workplace, anti-racism and unconscious bias education.

Hiring goals have been set at a minimum 5 per cent within the student workforce from the Black community, and 3.5 per cent of executive and board roles based in Canada being held by Black leaders by 2025.

“Becoming a signatory of the BlackNorth initiative is an important step in demonstrating EllisDon’s commitment to the recruitment, retention and empowerment of our BlPOC employees at all levels,” said Jennifer Khan, head of inclusive diversity, people & culture.

“The pledge will hold us accountable to take meaningful and lasting change to address anti-Black racism. We are not interested in just saying the right thing, we are committed to doing it.”

The BlackNorth initiative provides a variety of resources and events including the BlackNorth Initiative Summit 2020, and numerous action committees that create measurable goals to put a spotlight on the real issues Black Canadian face in areas such as: justice, education, at-risk youth and health.

“I congratulate the companies and their leaders who have committed to change by signing the CEO pledge,” said Wes Hall, founder and chairman of The Canadian Council of Business Leaders Against Anti-Black Systemic Racism. “These organizations will also be ambassadors for the creation of a new Black-friendly and Black-enabling Canada – progressively attracting those people and organizations whose values align with the BlackNorth Initiative.”

For more information on the BlackNorth Initiative, visit blacknorth.ca

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