BlackNorth calls out lagging action on systemic racism

A new campaign brings a wide array of statistics to light to paint a clear picture of how inequality has persisted since last year.

The BlackNorth Initiative is marking a year since powerful anti-racist protests erupted worldwide and it collected hundreds of signatures to its pledge for diversity with a new campaign that spotlights areas where Canada is still lagging on addressing systemic racism.

The campaign, titled “Part of the Problem,” was launched Tuesday and created by Isobar, one of over 450 Canadian companies that signed on to the pledge. It features statistics that show the societal problem of anti-black racism lingers and calls Canadians to action in order to address the inequities, including in areas signatories might be able to address.

The data is showcased through video and still images and touches on topics as varied as career advancement, education, food security, healthcare and home ownership. In all areas, the data show Black Canadians are clearly not afforded the same opportunities as their peers.

Originally released to promote the BlackNorth Ignites Summit, held on Tuesday, the campaign will remain in the market until Sept. 2, running across social and online video, with OOH and digital OOH elements.

BlackNorth’s pledge included several commitments, including having Black leaders in at least 3.5% of executive and board roles, hiring at least 5% of its student work force from Black communities and devoting 3% of corporate donations to initiatives that create economic opportunities for Black people, all by 2025.

While progress on these kinds of goal takes time, it’s clear that BlackNorth’s signatories also need to take the campaign’s message to heart if they want to reach their commitments in the next four years. An analysis released by The Globe and Mail on Tuesday showed that amoung 105 of the original 209 signatories who responded to its poll, only 15 said they had increased their number of Black employees compared to a year prior.

“I am insulted when people say to me that we can’t find capable Black people in this country to serve in high positions,” Wes Hall, who founded the BlackNorth Initiative, told the Globe. “They are all there, but they are stuck at these middle-management positions that go nowhere, and there’s nobody telling them, ‘we’re going to fight to elevate you.’”