Nov. 21, 2022Print | PDF
By: Jensen Tait, fourth-year BBA student
On Monday, Nov. 7, Lazaridis Students’ Society clubs Women in Leadership Laurier (WILL) and the Black Students of Lazaridis (BSOL) teamed up to host WILL x BSOL: Diversity in Business. The event focused on networking between students and industry professionals to foster an important conversion about diversity in the corporate world.
The evening featured a speaker panel, followed by networking, and offered attendees the opportunity to ask questions, seek insights, and meet with recruiters from several companies, including Deloitte, CIBC, Manulife, and Procter & Gamble (P&G). During the event, students were encouraged to gain a deeper understanding and recognition of each other’s unique differences in the workplace.
The event featured keynote speaker Dennis Mitchell, CEO and CIO of Starlight Capital and founder of the Black Opportunity Fund. Mitchell, a Lazaridis School of Business & Economics Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) alumnus, has over 15 years of experience in the investment industry, and was keen to share his thoughts on diversity in the corporate world.
Mitchell shared his journey since his graduation from Wilfrid Laurier University as well as the obstacles and opportunities that he has faced along the way. He acknowledged the uniqueness of each individual’s path in their careers and highlighted the importance of owning your individuality in the corporate world.
He also spoke about the importance of creating opportunities for encouraging diverse leadership, using the Black Opportunity Fund as an example of progress. The Black Opportunity Fund is a dynamic partnership between businesses, philanthropists, foundations, and the Black community to combat the impact of anti-Black racism in Canada, and is just one example used to inspire students to find opportunities for diversity to thrive.
“I always want you to be your true selves and make sure that you feel comfortable being your true selves. Oftentimes we filter ourselves for the environments that we’re in, but you should never feel bad about embracing yourself and owning your identity.”
~ Harleen Brar
The evening also highlighted a panel of industry professionals including Mila Banerjee, CEO of Pronti AI, Harleen Brar, senior specialist of Global Alliance Marketing for Google Cloud at Deloitte Global, Ginika Ukanwa, senior manager of Governance & Controls for Finance at CIBC, Kiran Arif, CHRP, senior campus recruiter at Manulife, and Kiana Chin, senior market strategy manager at P&G.
The conversation centered around the changing culture of the business world and the challenges that each panelist has faced. When asked about the presence of glass ceilings in the corporate world, Banerjee responded with a chuckle saying, “I feel like I bump into a lot of those ceilings!” But more importantly, the panel also shifted the focus to overcoming those barriers and fostering a supportive student community to empower each other throughout that process. “I always want you to be your true selves and make sure that you feel comfortable being your true selves. Oftentimes we filter ourselves for the environments that we’re in, but you should never feel bad about embracing yourself and owning your identity,” summarized Brar at the end of the discussion.
This event marked the first collaboration between WILL and BSOL, two of the 26 student-led clubs under the umbrella of the Lazaridis Students’ Society at the Lazaridis School. “Both student clubs strive to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion, while fostering the continuous growth and development of students interested in various areas of business. Diversity in Business, the first of many events to be hosted by either club in the 2022/23 school year, kicked off another year of continued empowerment and inspiration from WILL and BSOL alike” reflected Jensen Tait, fourth-year BBA student and WILL co-president.