A Globe survey shows lack of progress two years after BlackNorth Initiative's launch. Five experts weigh in with strategies for Canadian companies

David Noel, senior vice-president of global HR services, Bank of Nova Scotia

In order to boost Black representation among employees at Bank of Nova Scotia, executives realized they needed to cast a wider net.

At the entry level, the bank expanded the pool of universities, colleges and community groups it taps to recruit summer students and junior staff. It no longer asks summer students or other applicants for resumes. Instead, they fill out an application form and behavioural assessment to gauge their competencies and strengths, rather than past experience. The bank also partnered with Plum, a talent assessment platform that seeks to strip away bias, which helps match candidates with roles for which they’re the best fit.

“Summer students have limited experience, resumes are loaded with bias, and by removing the resume from the process and focusing on students’ skills, their areas of interest,” said David Noel, Scotiabank’s senior vice-president of global HR services. “When you go on to look at having a pipeline of talent for future executive roles, it all starts with the initial recruits, such as what we do with the summer program.”

At more senior levels, Scotiabank had more than 60 staff participate in the first two cohorts of its six-month Black Management Accelerator Program, which includes digital courses, group projects, networking and mentorship. A third cohort is planned this year.

“That’s the program I believe is really going to help us build the pipeline for our future executives and increase the representation of Black employees at the executive level,” Mr. Noel said.

So far, these and other initiatives show signs of paying off. From July, 2021, until now, the proportion of Black employees at Scotiabank rose from 4.5 per cent to 4.8 per cent, and the proportion of Black executives climbed from 2.1 per cent to 2.5 per cent, according to data provided by the bank.

This article originally appeared in The Globe and Mail. To access the full piece, visit https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-blacknorth-survey-canadian-companies-diversity