Our actions will continue to evolve as we start to measure our results, learn, adapt and grow. Some actions will yield results quickly; others may take longer to implement or achieve desired outcomes.
In August 2020, we established a “Diversity & Inclusion Council”, led by our Head of Diversity & Inclusion, a member of our Senior Leadership Team. The Council’s objectives are to advocate for, advise on, implement and monitor the actions taken to achieve the vision we have for diversity & inclusion, both internally and externally. Council membership and related Diversity & Inclusion Action Teams are open to all employees and reflect a diverse and representative membership. We have formalized this work in team members’ performance responsibilities and evaluation.
We have increased our focus on recruiting, developing and promoting BIPOC and LGBTQ+ candidates for leadership roles. This is paying off, with seven Leadership Team and Board members hired or promoted in 2020-2021 who identify as BIPOC. We have identified and are committed to addressing gaps in representation.
To ensure we improve our hiring practices and alleviate any barriers, in 2021 we removed mandatory postsecondary degree requirements for most roles and ceased our practice of credit checks for new employees. We continue to broaden our outreach in recruiting and promoting diverse employees at all levels, and in particular Leadership Team and Board members.
In 2020, we spent months identifying and working with experts to develop diversity & inclusion workshops and training tailored to Futurpreneur’s needs. In April-July, we worked with Ann Divine, CEO of Ashanti Leadership and Professional Development Services, to deliver workshop-based training to all Futurpreneur staff and Board members. We implemented online “Learning Snippets” and a D&I Conversation Series for continuous employee learning and engagement throughout the year and created a new D&I module based on Ashanti’s workshops for new employee onboarding.
We are currently working on a Diversity & Inclusion learning path for our mentors as well and hope to release this digital resource in the coming months.
We have made significant strides in adjusting our programming in several important areas.
In recognition of the credit barriers faced disproportionately by Black and Indigenous entrepreneurs, we adjusted our credit eligibility requirement to provide loans to young Black and Indigenous entrepreneurs whose credit ratings would have made them previously ineligible (we are unable to support entrepreneurs in collections or with bankruptcy proceedings not discharged for at least 5 years). We developed a two-part Credit Information video resource available to all young entrepreneurs who register with Futurpreneur, in hopes of helping them manage their credit responsibly and setting them up for financial success.
Alongside these developments, we spent over six months working with RBC on new resources to support Black entrepreneurs and were thrilled to launch our Black Entrepreneur Startup Program on March 24, 2021. This new offering, delivered by Futurpreneur with funding from RBC and additional loan financing from BDC, is a tailored version of our core Startup Program created by Black professionals and others on our team and delivered by Black team members for Black-led founding teams, in recognition of the value of lived experience. We have also bolstered our Indigenous Young Entrepreneur outreach and programming, with support funded by ISED, with the same principles in mind, including collaborating with NACCA to develop and deliver an Indigenous-focused version of our online Business Plan Writer.
To ensure that our programming is both accessible and delivered in an inclusive, safe way, we have improved the accessibility of our website and online portals, and now include an anti-harassment statement at the beginning of every event, in addition to our loan application process.
Outreach & Partnerships
We are grateful to partner with a diverse array of BIPOC- & LGBTQ+- focused and led community associations and organizations. We will make the work of BIPOC & LGBTQ+ organizations more visible within our organization, to raise awareness and create opportunities, including with suppliers and strategic partners, and initiated this work with the recent signing of a partnership agreement with CAMSC (Canadian Aboriginal & Minority Supplier Council).
We have added questions about the BIPOC status of entrepreneurs and mentors at intake, to better understand the diversity & inclusion of our community and client base, with the intention of adding questions about LGBTQ+ identification in the months ahead. We intend to establish targets and track both the number of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs we support and mentors we work with.