I am overjoyed and hounoured to have received the Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow Recognition. This is the highest recognition a Club can give to a member for services performed. I joined the Rotary Club Halifax North West in 2016, a time when the Club was experiencing tremendous difficulties and was on the brink because of failing membership. In was introduce by my good friend Gail Adams. She was hard working and tried very hard to Brin in as much diversity as she possible could. I stayed and added to the numbers.
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I was overjoyed with the number of women who turned out today for the first every breakfast meeting at the Halifax Chamber of Commerce with a focus on Women of Colour, and garnering their views on the state of diversity, inclusion and a sense of belonging.
The question was put to the group about what can the Chamber do to be more inclusive. As can be imagined the conversation was powerful, energizing, positive and impactful.
We welcomed the opportunity to share our views and shares ideas about how the Chamber connect with the diverse communities across the city, such as hosting events and meetings in the local communities. Meeting people where they are at. Hosting meetings in places where the psychological safety is important. Often transportation is a issue for certain segments of our community and this could be a barrier to participation.
It was incredible to watch and listen to the Information sharing, ideas and suggestions that were made for the Chamber to take forward in order for it to become more inclusive.
Our conversation included suggestions about building trust with each other as well as trust between the Chamber and the community. Creating opportunities for women of colour to participate and feel welcomed in the various arenas. Focus should not only be on the corporate businesses but on small business owners who make up a significant number of businesses. The suggestion to develop partnership with not-for-profit organizations was also very important for the group. It was also great learn about the new initiatives taking place at the HCC. for example, adding diversity to their strategic plan 2019 - 2023.
I’m thankful to Margaret Chapman, Chair, Halifax Chamber of Commerce for her willingness to listen, engage and act on my suggestion to host the breakfast and hear from the voices of women of colour who are not present. Without hesitation she acted and the event was a resounding success.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit with a group of people at the Halifax Chamber of Commerce to talk about Diversity and Inclusion in business. I noticed that I was the only voice at the table for women of colour. I made a decision to change my own narrative about the " lone voice at the table" and decided not to speak for all because I know there any many women of colour doing business locally, nationally and globally. I approached Margaret Chapman, Chair, Chamber of Commerce, shared my views and she agreed and action on my suggestions immediately.
Join us for Breakfast, on Thursday, June 27, 2019, our conversation will be on Diversity and Inclusion at the Chamber of Commerce, 32 Akerley Blvd, Dartmouth.
Your invitation is below. You're free to attend, bring a friend and make your contribution to the discussion on Diversity and Inclusion in business.
Please RSVP as soon as possible.
I am looking forward to owning my power as a businesswoman who left my government position to become my own CEO. In my presentation I will talk about what it means to be Fearless, giving up a well paid job but recognizing you have reached the end of the journey and had to step out on my own to achieve fulfillment and job satisfaction.
I am delighted to have received a nomination for the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards. A special thanks and appreciation for my nominator. She continues to encourage me and be my champion.
Thanks to RBC Waterside Centre for hosting an excellent breakfast session yesterday, bringing together all the nominees in NS. It was very informative and inspiring.
Delighted to announce a save the date for our next Annual Women's Leadership Roundtable to be held on Thursday, July 18, 2018, 5:00 pm. This is an exciting opportunity for you to join us, hear from professionals, business owners and network with each other. Our previous events have been a resounding success from the feedback we have received.
This event is supported by the International women’s Forum (IWF) Ashanti Leadership and Professional Development Services, Black and immigrant Women Network Association and Stewart McKelvie.
More details to follow soon.
It was an honor to speak at the Ability Employers Workplace Series 2019. Employers were to keen learn about how to become more inclusive in their businesses and workplaces. We explored Unconscious Bias and its impact in the workplace. The experience was insightful because participants gave examples of their own understanding biases and what were some of the solutions to address them.
Valuing each other and what we bring to the table, telling our stories, understanding our social location, cultural up bringing and privilege, all which contributes to our view of the other.
Great attendance and tremendous conversations around the room.
#DavidDivine and I took our first business trip to Prince Edward Island (PEI) to meet a large group of individuals seeking political office (with over 70 per cent males) from across the Island. Our topic was Gender Bias and how to address some of the barriers faced by their female colleagues and constituents when seeking to run for political office.
We were encouraged by the number of individuals who took time out of their electioneering to meet with us and engaged with the subject because they want to see a change in their legislature.
The participants demonstrated commitment and to a willingness to learn and focused on achieving their goals. It was powerful to be a part of something so significant and the fact that this training was planned well before the election was called.
Thanks to all of you for giving us this opportunity to come into your space, learn about each other's cultural diversity, share our thoughts and ideas together. We enjoyed our time and loved PEI.
We wish you all success in your coming elections and a big win in your ridings. Hope to be back soon. (April 6 & 7 2019).
Ashanti Leadership and Professional Development Services, and associates were successful ina Request for Proposal (RFP), and are currently conducting a major organizational review onDiversity, Equity and Inclusion for a leading not-for-profit organization in Nova Scotia. This is asignificant project which engages a number of associates and subject matter experts fromdiverse communities, such as survey experts, the Indigenous, African Nova Scotian, LGBTQ2Scommunities. My associates and I are excited about this project as it is a significant stepforward for any organization in their drive towards inclusivity in the workplace.
Celebrating our achievements as women of colour is the best way to draw attention to how successful we are. And when we collaborate with other women, we make magic.
Celebrating Cynthia Dorrington's appointment to Chair of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce was important and could not go unrecognized. We are delighted that so many people joined us from all levels of government, political persuasion and communities on Monday evening at the Paul O' Regan's Hall. It was spectacular to see the diverse groups of people and we almost had a full house. The music by Colours of Africa and delicious cuisine from M&J's contributed to a successful event.
Our success is never achieved by oneself but it is a collaborative effort and ideas. Thanks to this amazing group of women who helped me plan Cynthia's night.
The children who performed and received a standing ovation. They were stars.
Nova Scotia is becoming increasingly diverse, and that is something to celebrate. Our community is beginning to recognize the underrepresented groups and understand the value each segment has to offer in support of our province’s economic growth and development.
With all the great work being done to advance our minority groups, there is still room for improvement. Women of colour in Halifax have been contributing significantly to our economy for years, but they are rarely in the spotlight. Like other entrepreneurs, they find their niche, they hone their craft and they work hard. It’s time to take the diversity and inclusion conversation and turn it into more opportunities for women of colour in business.
Cynthia Dorrington, a successful international businesswoman and a champion of her community, is the first woman of African descent to be appointed as Chair of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, a 200-year-old institution. Cynthia is only the fourth woman to hold the position of Chair of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce and comes to the chamber after a distinguished career that includes Chairing the Black Business Initiative for a number of years and most recently being appointed a Nova Scotia Human Rights Commissioner.
“During my time in the Nova Scotia business environment, I have seen increasingly diverse entrepreneurial talent in our region thanks to more opportunities for underrepresented groups,” says Cynthia Dorrington, Chair of the Halifax Chamber Board and President of Vale and Associates Human Resource Management. “But we still have work to do.”
In Canada, there are 950,000 self-employed women business owners and 16 per cent are micro-enterprises of 1 — 4 people. It is difficult to find statistics on women of colour entrepreneurs or small business owners (Centre for Women’s Foundation). Despite a lack of reporting, we know women of colour are making a significant contribution to our ever-growing economy in various sectors and industries.
In 2012, I founded the Black and Immigrant Women’s Network at the behest of other women, and I have been privileged to engage with many who are business owners or have a small business in addition to their professional career.
The little-known facts are that women of colour have always been industrious, owning their small home-based businesses, selling their products in their community and earning an income for themselves, to supplement their income or to gain independence and to raise their families.
Women of colour have always used their skills, talents, intellect, creativity and innovativeness for the advancement of themselves, their families and communities. A great example of this most recently given nationwide acclaim is Viola Desmond on our Canadian $10 bill.
However, we often face insurmountable barriers and are not adequately represented in business for a variety of reasons. Consciously or unconsciously, systemic discrimination has been the major obstruction.
Today in Nova Scotia, the landscape is changing as we take entrepreneurial risks by engaging in various business sectors previously unoccupied by women of colour (including: technology, export and import, publications, accounting, education, catering, pharmacy, online products, quantity surveying, hair salons, dry cleaning, management consultancy, automotive industry, fashion, medical and legal professions, and many others).
Some of the challenges they’re facing ring true for all entrepreneurs, including finding appropriate funding sources to start their business, building mentoring relationships, approaching the right networks and contacts, understanding procurement, access to contracts, research, and how to bid for contracts.
As entrepreneurs, we have to understand the competition and how to use one’s competitive advantage to find your own unique selling proposition. There’s an added barrier for these women, however, due in part to biases, a limited network and less perceived opportunities.
The good news is that we are a growing network, who are not only providing for ourselves and our families but have international business connections and are employing men and women in other countries. Those who have online businesses are selling their products to a global market We are finding new marketplaces and ways to collaborate, building allies, and aligning ourselves with like-minded people.
We need to surround ourselves with women from all industries, all colours, and together lift our collective horizons for our mutual benefit.
*This article was published by the Halifax Chamber of Commerce - Business Voice Magazine - February 1, 2019
Ashanti Leadership &PDS and Associates, recently acquired a contract to undertake Diversity, Equity and Inclusion review for a well-known organization in our province. We are looking forward to working together and see what will emerge over the next six months from our study. This is an exciting time for all involved.
There were so many inspirational moments in 2018 and challenges too.
I also have many people to thank family, friends, colleagues, business associates and ordinary people who touched my life.
I am looking forward with eager expectations for 2019. My goals are to embrace new adventures or any obstacles I may face.
Thanks, everyone for the many messages of love, good wishes and innumerable notes of thanks. Here is one I received today and wish to share, "Remember when I was terrified of making a career change and you assured me that I will be okay and I would do well. Guess what? I just celebrated my second year anniversary. Thanks for believing in me, much love!"
One of the many gifts I received over the holiday was Michelle Obama's book from two young women I worked with last year. They are extraordinary young women who are going places.
Wishing everyone a successful journey in 2019. Enjoy the ride!
Have a great week ahead.
Nova Scotia is becoming increasingly diverse and it is critical that we recognize all aspects of our society and value what each segment has to offer in support of our economic growth and development.
One group within the business community that is consistently overlooked are Women of Colour. Few references are made to our contribution to the province as business owners. This article is in reference to those women who self-identify as Women of Colour and are non-white.
Cynthia Dorrington is the first woman of African descent to be appointed as Chair of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, a 200-year-old institution. Male dominated, the oldest business association in North America.
In Canada, there are 950,000 self-employed women business owners and 16 per cent are micro-enterprises of 1 - 4 people. There are no readily available statistics for women of colour entrepreneurs or small business owners (Centre for Women's Foundation).
However, Women of Colour are making a significant contribution to our ever-growing economy in various sectors and industries but are often not recognized because they are not members of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce or the Centre for Women in Business. The primary reason is that many would say those organizations were not welcoming or inclusive. It has to be noted that there have been recent changes which bodes well for the future.
In 2012, I founded the Black and Immigrant Women's Network at the behest of other women, and I have been privileged to engage with many who are business owners or have a small business in addition to their professional career.
The little-known fact is that Women of Colour have always been industrious, owning their small home-based businesses, selling their products in their community and earning an income for themselves, to supplement their income or to gain independence and to raise their families.
Women of Colour have always used their skills, talents, intellect, creativity and innovativeness for the advancement of themselves, their families and communities.
However, Women of Colour often face insurmountable barriers and are not adequately represented in business for a variety of reasons. Consciously or unconsciously, systemic discrimination has been the major reason why they have been held back.
Today, in Nova Scotia, the landscape is changing because more Women of Colour are choosing to take risks by engaging in various business sectors (construction, technology, export and import, publications, accounting, education, catering, pharmacy, online products, quantity surveying, hair salons, dry cleaning, management consultancy, automotive industry, catering, medical and legal professions, are just a few to mention), and owning shopfront businesses. Some of these businesses have been in existence for over 30 years.
Some of the challenges include finding appropriate funding sources to start their business, trusting mentors, building the right networks and contacts, knowing where to go to get information and advice, understanding procurement, access to contracts, finding the market, research, how to bid for contracts etc. Understanding the competition and how to use one's competitive advantage to find your own unique selling proposition.
The good news is that we are a growing network, who are not only providing for ourselves and our families but have international business connections and are employing men and women in other countries. Those who have online businesses are selling their products to a global market We are finding new market places, ways to collaborate, build allies, and aligning ourselves with people who are like-minded.
We need to surround ourselves with women from all industries, all colours, and together lift our collective horizons for our mutual benefit.
Authored by Ann Divine, CEO Ashanti Leadership & PDS
It is rear to see a bevvy of ladies who shared the same role in government as managers in the same place at the same time. This was a powerful and highly unusual moment, especially in the Nova Scotia Public Service Commission. We all worked at the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission as manager, Race Relations, Equity and Inclusion. A position which we held in high regard, and with a great sense of pride.
We must thank Carolyn Thomas and Viki Samuels for paving the way for us (Tracey Thomas, Dr Kesa Munroe-Anderson and I). Ironically, this is the only position in government that has been held by women of African descent and legislated for Race Relations, Equity and Inclusion matters. It enhanced our professional standing, decision-making and influence. We, in turn, have given a great deal to make a difference in the area of Diversity and Inclusion in our province by raising public awareness about discrimination, education and training.
We cannot forget Moe O'Keiffe who also acted briefly. Hopefully, she will be next in line.
Today is a historic day, and celebration for all of us, especially women in business. I'm am getting my $10bill today for the archive.
A great day for all of us women who are striving against all odds to move forward. it takes courage, the determination in everything we do to succeed in business. For women of colour especially, the road to a successful business is still challenging but we have examples of how we can do it. Viola Desmond is one of those women.
Congratulation Mrs Wanda Robson for your determination in bringing your sister's story to the world.
I am looking forward to speaking to the Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine Admissions Committee. This an exciting opportunity for me to meet such a prestigious group as they seek to find solutions to engage more African Nova Scotian/Canadians and Indigenous students in their medical program. Thanks to Dr David Haase, Professor of Medicine at Dalhousie University.
This article really impressed me.
There are many people who have contributed to my success in various ways. I recalled when I mentioned in a meeting that I was leaving government to become independent, some people at the table laughed but Tracey Thomas, Senior Policy Advisor in the government of Nova Scotia, believed in me. She recognized my potential, valued what I had to offer and sent a group of women to meet, to be coached and mentored because they were experiencing some serious challenges in their workplace.
Today, none of those women are in the same positions including me. They have gone on to become a director, business advisor, government position, others have left our province and are very successful in their career choice.
Thank you, my friend. I found this image and had to share it because I appreciate you as a sister giving another sister a step up.
Today, I nominate and voted my husband David, my "Person of the Day." He is one incredibly strong and determined person. We saw him off last night at HFX Int'l Airport, bound for a conference at Stirling University, Scotland on The Aberlour Child Care Trust. Uppermost in his mind would be his role, which is to deliver a keynote speech on his work. It is the most comprehensive study about the Scottish Child Care System on the Aberlour Orphanage founded in 1875-1967, where he grew up from 18 months to 12 years old. At that time the Orphanage housed over 600 children. This is a major contribution towards the Historic Child Abuse Inquiry in Scottland.
As I watched you depart, I gave thanks to those who have been part of your journey, Veronica Divine,(my mother-in-law, deceased), yes, she and I connected instantly. She gave me your father's name and I committed to memory. Susan Hart, your sister, (who did the best she could at her age to show you love), your father David Gist (deceased) and innumerable, all the American family he gave us and they have loved us unconditionally. Aunty Phyllis, your house mother who raise you. As well as your Orphanage family, who are counting on you to give voice and validation to their stories, especially those who are absent for a variety of reasons, and are voiceless. We are very proud of you and your journey to stand up, speak for, and inspire others.
We are so excited to be speaking at the Association of Municipal Administrators Nova Scotia. I will be sharing the platform with my friend and business partner Barb Miller Nix, on October 18, 2018, Baddeck, Cape Breton, NS. Scroll down and find our profiles.