Brock joins national effort to ensure fair career opportunities for Black students

Brock University is one of a few post-secondary institutions selected to partner in a national diversity project to establish more equitable career opportunities for Black students.

The Onyx Initiative, which launched Wednesday, Oct. 21, is a non-profit endeavour designed to address “the pervasive gap that exists in the recruitment and selection of Black college and university students for roles in corporate Canada.”

Brock is one of a handful of organizations selected as inaugural partners for The Onyx Initiative.

Brock is one of several inaugural partners who include McMaster and Ryerson universities, George Brown College, Manulife, TD Bank, Bell Canada and the Coalition of Innovation Leaders Against Racism.

In today’s announcement, Onyx is described as “a direct response to the ongoing realities of anti-Black racism, systemic bias and socioeconomic inequities.”

“According to Statistics Canada, Black Canadians with post-secondary degrees are under-represented in higher paying occupational groups compared to their white peers, with some industries showing greater disparities than others,” said the announcement.

Onyx said corporations themselves have acknowledged that, during recruitment efforts, identifying candidates is a key challenge, which underscores the need for intervention and support at the college, university and internship levels and throughout a student’s career.

The initiative was co-founded by Nigela and Wayne Purboo, who want to ensure that students are equipped to thrive in their respective workplace environments.

“Current hiring practices adversely and disproportionately affect Black students who are often contending with a lack of family or social networks, a lack of knowledge about opportunities, and a lack of mentorships,” said Nigela Purboo, who also serves as the program’s Executive Director. “The fact that so many brilliant change-makers are excluded from premier talent pools was not something we could just continue to observe.”

Wayne Purboo said the Onyx model seeks to nurture a growing demand for more inclusive internships and full-time placements.

“By serving as a pipeline and providing mutually beneficial solutions for recruitment, retention and promotion, we will help ensure more equitable processes and deliver the type of meaningful change that transforms lives, both in the short-term and for generations to come,” he said.

Brock President Gervan Fearon said the aims of this national effort align directly with a key priority in the University’s own Strategic Plan, and Brock will join other Onyx partners in seeking to create internships and other opportunities.

“Our Human Rights and Equity Office works across the University and with partners to advance Brock as an inclusive university community,” said Fearon. “These efforts benefit all students and advance Canada as an inclusive society.”

Leela MadhavaRau, Brock’s Director of Human Rights and Equity, said it is a natural fit for Brock to be part of this effort.

“At Brock University we support the success of all students and, where specific needs are identified, we work to bridge the gaps,” said MadhavaRau. “We are excited to partner with The Onyx Initiative to overcome systemic barriers that have impacted Black students’ success within corporate Canada.”

To learn more about The Onyx Initiative, click here to read the official launch statement.

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