- Dahabo Ahmed-Omer was born to be a star.
- Her name, ‘Dahabo,’ literally means “gold,” and she is living up to her proud father’s “golden child” expectations.
Expectations as executive director of the BlackNorth Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending anti-Black systemic racism throughout Canada through a business-first mindset.
The BlackNorth Initiative, founded by Bay Street businessman Wes Hall in the aftermath of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, is on a mission to remove anti-Black system barriers that are negatively impacting the lives of Black Canadians. It urges corporations across the country, including insurance companies, to increase diversity in leadership positions and embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I).
Soon after its inception, the BlackNorth Initiative launched its CEO pledge, which Ahmed-Omer describes as allowing business leaders to “set the tone, lead from the top and walk the walk.” The CEO pledge asks CEOs to “acknowledge the existence of anti-Black systemic racism and its impact on Canada’s 1,198,540 Black citizens (or 3.5 %), as well as the need to create opportunities for Black people within our companies.”
“As leaders of any of Canada’s largest corporations, we handle hundreds of thousands of employees also play a critical role in ensuring that inclusion is core to our workplace culture and that our businesses are representative of the communities we serve,” the statement continues.
Furthermore, we know that true diversity is beneficial to the economy; it improves corporate performance, drives growth, and boosts team member engagement. Simply put, organizations with genuinely diverse teams outperform their counterparts.”
Ahmed-Omer emphasized that the CEO pledge is not a legal document. Instead, it is a document based on principles that should speak to a leader’s true intentions.
The Racial Equity Playbook, which all corporations are invited to download, consists of six action pillars:
- Create an inclusive talent pipeline and a fair hiring process at all levels and functions.
- Create opportunities for equal development to retain and promote talent.
- Remove any racial compensation disparities that exist on a life-for-life basis;
- Create a variety of procurement and vendor networks.
- Include minorities in the company’s portfolio and brand; and
- Racial equity can be achieved through communication, contributions, and action.
Despite the challenges associated with the ever-changing target of DE&I, Ahmed-Omer stated that she is “honored to be working” in the space. “It’s essential, and it’s proven that businesses that have implemented DE&I strategies do perform better, have higher team member retention, and people are just happier,” she added. As a result, expanding your [team member and] customer base expands your business.