To mark Black History Month, the Alberta Investment Management Corp. is giving employees a chance to reflect on the history of groups dedicated to the challenges affecting Black professionals in the asset management industry.

The investment organization hosted a fireside chat to raise awareness about the obstacles that Black professionals face and how individuals can get support through employee resource groups. The AIMCo is also running a social media campaign that highlights Black Canadian artists who are speaking up against injustices, looking for equality and trying to promote inclusion.

During the fireside chat, Deland Kamanga (pictured right), group head of wealth management at the Bank of Montreal, detailed his experiences and shared how those experiences led him to join the Black Professionals Network at the bank in the 1990s. The network has since grown from roughly 30 members to more than 1,000 members currently.

Read: Redbrick highlighting DEI through employee-led discussions, education sessions

Amit Prakash (pictured centre-left), the AIMCo’s chief fiduciary management officer and moderator of the event, says he was moved by Kamanga’s emphasis in building community through the Ubuntu philosophy from South Africa’s Zulu people, whose name translates to the phrase ‘I am, because you are.’

Kamanga also shared the differences he sees between challenges in the workplace and racism, which he noted requires a more systematic approach to change procedures and policies in place.

Last year, the AIMCo launched its Black Employees and Allies Network to further build community and support for Black professionals at the organization, says Prakash, who is a co-executive sponsor of the network.

The BEAN network offers employees an opportunity to connect about similar experiences and gain a sense of comfort from finding a community at the workplace, says Siobhan Calderbank (pictured centre-right), the AIMCo’s managing director of transformation lead, talent development and enablement and co-chair of the network.

Read: Survey finds Black Canadians report high levels of racism despite workplace improvements