At Scotiabank, we strive for diversity and inclusion to be reflected every day in our people, culture, and work. Over the past few months, the Bank’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and to developing high-performing leaders who reflect our customers and employees has been an important focus and priority. Scotiabank's renewed diversity strategy focuses on underrepresented employees, with annual milestones set to reach its diversity and inclusion goals in Canada.  

To mark Black History Month, we caught up with a few Scotiabankers to find out more about why representation matters to them and what their hopes are for the future!

  • Molara, Senior Manager, Diversity & Inclusion
  • Sean, Regional Senior Vice President
  • Bolu, Manager, AML and ABC Monitoring and Testing
  • Mark, Director, Valuation Actuarial Services
  • Daniel, Fee-Based Trader
  • Ejiro, Senior Market Segment Manager
  • Caroline, Financial Advisor

“If you know where you’ve come from, you can begin to build a path for the future. Black History month is an exceptional reminder that we all need to embrace our history, understand and take up the challenge, and build towards the future.” – Sean Albert, Regional Senior Vice President

Meaghan: How is Black History Month different for you this year compared to those in the past?

Bolu: Recent events have highlighted the challenges faced by the Black community. As more people become aware of these challenges, the less inclined they are to let things continue as they were. This year, I believe the Black community has gained allies who are key to changing the stigma and prejudice faced by Black people and can help facilitate the eradication of racism.

Ejiro: Due to the shameful nature of what has happened in the past, it can be difficult to encourage people to learn about Black history; however, this year feels different. We are making history as we speak, and you can feel it transforming on a global scale. There is still a lot of education and learning ahead of us, but I’m excited to be part of the change.

Meaghan: Why does representation matter to you?

Sean: Challenges can sometimes seem insurmountable without evidence showing that they’re possible to overcome.  This is why representation and conscious inclusion is so important at Scotiabank.

Molara: Representation matters because it fosters a sense of belonging, remove barriers, and created equal access and opportunity for all.

Bolu: Representation matters because it can help educate people from a non-black background to confront biases.

Mark: Representation is a natural consequence of the belief in diversity and inclusion. It is the evidence of access to non-polarised opportunities and is important because it demonstrates the promises of equity.

Daniel: Representation matters because it inspires me to succeed. It can feel impossible to be what you can’t see.  It is important to see ourselves represented in executive, management, and other leadership positions in order to fuel aspirational thoughts and goals of taking on these roles.

Ejiro: Representation is about giving people the opportunity to have a seat at the table where decisions that impact them are made. Representation matters because every voice deserves to be heard.

Meaghan: What can your peers do to foster inclusion and belonging in the workplace?

Caroline: The best way to foster inclusion and belonging in the workplace is by having open conversations where people can ask and be asked questions in a supportive environment. It is important to get that open dialogue going with your peers so that everyone can educate one another.

Bolu: Three things – listen, educate and stimulate change. Listen to the challenges faced by your Black colleagues with an open mind. Educate yourself on how you can make a difference. Change starts with each of us – small actions can make a big difference over time!

Mark: To foster inclusion, we can make an effort to tackle our unconscious biases and inclination to use labels. We must feel comfortable sharing, communicating, and empathizing with all peers.

Meaghan: In your opinion, how has Scotiabank been supportive of Black employees?

Molara: Safe spaces have been created where Black employees can speak openly about our experiences. Our senior leadership team has listened to our challenges and began implementing strategies to ensure our workplace is not only diverse but also inclusive.

Daniel: One of the most important resources has been Scotiabank’s Black Employee Network (SBEN) where Black employees can share their experiences, coping mechanisms, and strategies for success. Another source of support was the Bank teaming up with the BlackNorth Initiative with an overall goal of eliminating racial discrimination both within the Bank, and the communities in which the Bank operates.

Sean: Scotiabank is a founding signatory to the BlackNorth Initiative, with a commitment to increase our Black co-op/intern representation and our Black VP+ representation, and our HR and Talent Acquisition teams are already collecting the necessary data and creating innovative solutions to help get us there. We have big goals, but we are going to achieve them, together.  

Meaghan: What gives you hope for the coming year in the way of diversity, equity and inclusion?

Ejiro: This is the first time we’ve had such a large community of other races pledge their allyship and lend their voices to the issues we face. I am hopeful because, for the first time, people are talking about these challenges as “ours,” not Black challenges.

Caroline: What gives me hope is that people are celebrating black excellence, highlighting the BLM movement, and having uncomfortable conversations. My hope is that these conversations aren’t just a fad and that they will continue to put an end to systemic racism and create true equality for all.

Sean: That we are having conversations and embracing discomfort gives me hope.  That we are having the courage and using fear as an engine instead of a brake gives me hope. The Bank has set ambitious targets, our Leaders are asking the right questions and taking the right steps to turn plans into action.  I’m particularly humbled by and proud of our teams for working to create safe spaces where everyone feels supported. But we all need to use these safe spaces to speak up and support each other.

I continue to be in awe of our front line and the unsung heroes of our ERGs from across the Bank that are instrumental in building a stronger Bank. Every one of us needs to contribute to this momentum and commit to sustaining the action. It’s this sustainment that will be the true measure of success.” – Sean Albert, Regional Senior Vice President

To learn more about Diversity & Inclusion at Scotiabank, visit here.