Nadine Spencer, President of the Black Business and Professional Association and Mohamed Elmi, Director of Research at the Diversity Institute discuss walking the talk when it comes to addressing systemic racism. Nadine and Mohamed share the challenges black business people have long faced, and society has only recently begun to acknowledge. From financing in the COVID-19 pandemic, to the fact that only 13 black individuals were identified from over 900 corporate boards positions in major cities in Canada, this wide reaching conversation really puts the challenges and hopes for a better Canada in perspective.

Listen in with Nadine Spencer and Mohamed Elmi

The protests ignited by the killing of George Floyd raised the consciousness of Canadians about pervasive systemic racism in our country. That summer of 2020 will likely be seen as a pivot point in world history in the struggle for equality and racial justice. Canada’s government, businesses and civil leaders made moves to acknowledge systemic racism, but the important question say Nadine Spencer, President of the Black Business and Professional Association, is whether or not we can move from good intentions to action. In this episode of Policy Speaking, she shares the trajectory of many black-owned businesses in the pandemic, their struggles accessing funds to stay afloat, and all this on top of the extraordinary challenges entrepreneurs (especially women) face. When the color of your skin becomes one of them, it’s a ten fold type experience, she says.

Nadine is joined by Mohamed Elmi, Director of Research at Ryerson’s Diversity Institute, to discuss what we need in mentorship, training, tutoring, and supports to help black folks rise above the unique hurdles that have left so many suspicious of the system – in business, schooling, government, and health. With disproportionately high hesitance to get vaccines among black people of African and Caribbean descent, despite the rate of COVID-19 in these communities, they explore what’s ahead in knocking down the barriers that have kept the struggle of black folks out of the spotlight.


Nadine Spencer is CEO of BrandEQ Group Inc., a global marketing and communications agency specializing in marketing, communications and public relations. Spencer has earned a reputation as an experienced professional who accelerates strategic growth and brand visibility for clients. As a dedicated philanthropist and servant leader, Spencer has devoted her life’s work to battling poverty and in the advancement of women’s education. Ms. Spencer currently serves as President/CEO of the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) and Director both on the York University Alumni Board and the Lifelong Leadership Institute Board. She has been acknowledged in the recent book 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women, and has received numerous awards including the Harry Jerome Business Award, The Dale Carnegie Highest Award in Public Speaking Award, The Brilliant Minded Women’s Organization Philanthropy Award and the Junior League of Toronto Award for Excellence.

Mohamed Elmi is the Director of Research at the Diversity Institute. The Diversity Institute conducts and coordinates multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder research to address the needs of diverse Canadians, the changing nature of skills and competencies, and the policies, processes and tools that advance economic inclusion and success. Mohamed hold a PhD in Information Systems at University of Cape Town. Prior to this, Mohamed completed his thesis Masters of Arts in International Development Studies at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia and an Honour Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of New Brunswick.

Listen in and join the conversation with the hashtag #PolicySpeaking!


We’d like to thank the Diversity Institute and the Future Skills Centre for partnering with us to bring you Policy Speaking in February and March. Both Diversity Institute and Future Skills Centre are valued partners of PPF, and their work contributes greatly to the conversation around innovation, skills, diversity, and inclusion in Canada. PPF is currently working with these partners on a project called Skills for the Post-Pandemic World. Papers in this series will be released in March and April.

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