Today, CBC’s newest “Dragon” Wes Hall is one of Canada’s most influential businesspeople, orchestrating multi-billion-dollar deals for Canada’s corporate elite. But his climb to the top wasn’t an easy one and he’s using his platform to break down barriers for the next generation of Black leaders.
Named one of Maclean’s magazine’s 2021 “50 most powerful people in Canada”, Hall went from growing up in rural Jamaica in a tin shack to founding one of the most successful corporate advisory firms in North America, Kingsdale Advisors.
As Wes climbed the corporate ladder though, he noticed that fewer and fewer people looked like him at the top. He sought to change this by founding BlackNorth Initiative (BNI), an organization that challenges businesses to put an end to anti-Black systemic barriers and improve diversity in the boardroom and management suites. This coming summer marks the organization’s two-year anniversary and Wes shared a message with corporate Canada in a recent article with the Financial Post — we’ve still got a lot of work to do.
So far, more than 500 companies have signed BNI’s CEO pledge to address unconscious bias and have at least 3.5% of executive and board roles within Canada filled by Black leaders by 2025. While substantial, this level of commitment has fallen short of Wes’ goal.
“I thought that we would have 1,000 companies in the first year … because the problem is so massive, right?” Wes said in an interview with the Financial Post. “Everybody’s saying that, yeah, we have a problem … but yet, we didn’t get all the people that we wanted on board.”
If we stay on this path, Wes continued, it’s going to take 33 years to reach five-year targets for corporate diversity. This is why Wes is still actively pushing for change, using his position as a CBC Dragon to create more opportunities for BIPOC entrepreneurs.
While uptake has been slower than Wes anticipated, BNI is tracking diverse hires within Canada and the numbers are looking up. Last year there were 19 Black directors appointed to boards in the first half of the year, up from 17 for the whole of 2020.
This, alongside increased investment in educational programs, scholarships, and housing initiatives in partnership with governments, universities, and other organizations, has Wes hopeful that the pace of change will pick up.
BNI also recently produced a “playbook” in partnership with Boston Consulting Group, which provides resources, tools, and tactics to help companies create more equitable, diverse, and inclusive workplaces.
As a keynote speaker, Wes not only shares his personal story of success, but reveals concrete steps that leaders and organizations can take to reduce anti-Black systemic barriers and advance equity in the workplace.
Learn more about Wes and his commitment to end systemic racism in the video below:
In his actionable keynotes, Wes Hall channels his drive, passion, and commitment to offer audiences inspiring and actionable business strategies while empowering them to enact real change.
Interested in learning more about Wes and what he can bring to your event as keynote speaker? Email us at [email protected].