February is Black History Month, a time to recognize the past and present contributions of Black people in Canada — as well as a time to reflect and connect. In the tech sector, Black Canadians continue to be underrepresented — a study from the Brookfield Institute found that only 2.6 percent of tech workers in Canada were Black, while Black Canadians made up 3.5 percent of the total population. Through organizations such as Black Professionals in Tech Network (BPTN) and the Coalition of Innovation Leaders Against Racism, the tech and entrepreneurial community is rallying to support diversity and inclusion.
And this month, many Toronto-based innovation hubs, universities, colleges and organizations are hosting special events.
Hosted by the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, the Future Black Business Leaders Conference features a day of engaging events, such as discussions with employers and Rotman alumni as well as an interactive class on leadership from Nouman Ashraf, director of equity, diversity and inclusion. The keynote speaker for this year’s virtual conference is the CEO and founder of clean energy company Reeddi, Olugbenga Olubanjo. February 5, online
This virtual event, organized by BUiLT (Blacks United in Leading Technology Forward Toronto), is all about navigating the tech industry as a first-generation immigrant. Hosted by BUiLT’s assistant executive director, Asmara Hagos, a first-generation American herself, this talk will teach attendees about the special challenges of being a Black minority in a new country. February 7, online
Black Professionals in Tech Network works to address representation issues through connecting Black tech and business professionals to senior executive sponsorship, as well as providing skill development and a strong peer network. And so, the first part of its Lemons to Lemonade event will be dedicated to networking. The evening also includes a fireside chat with RBC exec Don Dele as well as a leadership panel covering such topics as microaggressions and how people have broken the proverbial glass ceiling. February 10, online
Sometimes it helps to hear how others have navigated challenges. At this latest instalment of Sheridan College’s BLACKS Career Conversations, alumni and students share their experiences and successes. The evening kicks off with a special keynote presentation from Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa, a physician and advocate for diversity and inclusion. Then, Evangeline Chima, founder of Black Mentorship Inc., will host a panel discussion discussing what the future holds. February 17, online
Hosted by York University’s Harriet Tubman Institute, this panel is the fifth (and final) event of the Institute’s Black History Month 2022 panel series. This talk aims to raise awareness of the constraints and progress of African Canadians in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and to talk about the contributions of African Canadians in STEM. February 28, online
One of the hardest parts of being an entrepreneur is figuring out how to market yourself (and your business) once you’ve settled on a winning product idea. This event is organized by The Hub at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough Campus and features revolutionary artist Robert Small in an interactive workshop that promises to teach attendees all about sales and marketing for entrepreneurs in the arts. February 5, online
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