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Scotiabank’s Allyship Summit celebrates, focuses workplace diversity and inclusion efforts

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January 30, 2023
By Talent Canada

Barb Mason, group head and CHRO at Scotiabank. Photo: LinkedIn

Last week, Scotiabank held its second annual employee “Allyship Summit” to celebrate and support its efforts around workplace diversity and inclusion.

The Allyship program was launched in January 2022 as a “powerful way to talk about how we show up for employees, customers, communities and each other as leaders through our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts,” said Barb Mason, group head and chief human resources officer (CHRO) at Scotiabank.

“We believe anyone can be an ally, everyone can benefit from active allyship, and if all 90,000 Scotiabankers work together, we can have a meaningful impact on the diverse communities we serve across our footprint,” said Mason, who defined an ally as someone who leverages their advantages in support of other who do not have those same advantages.

Keynote from Yoshino

Kenji Yoshino, Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at NYU School of Law and Director of its Meltzer Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, delivered the keynote address that focused on how to put allyship into action and foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment 365 days a year.


“As human beings we all have certain advantages that we can leverage to support others who don’t have those same advantages,” said Yoshino. “At an organizational level, it’s critical to understand that real, substantial cultural change is not going to happen without allyship.”

The keynote was followed by conversations with Scotiabank leaders and employees highlighting tangible action taken over the past year across the bank’s business lines to progress a culture of inclusion, including Scotiabank’s StartRight Program that launched in 2008 supporting newcomers to Canada with the next chapter in their lives.

Partnership with TalentLift Canada

Scotiabank also renewed its partnership with TalentLift Canada, an organization dedicated to supporting refugees relocate for work to companies and communities in need of their talent.

“Globally, there are more than 27 million people living as refugees, and there are far too few options for them to get to a country like Canada where they have a secure future,” said Dana Wagner, co-founder and managing director of TalentLift Canada. “We are grateful to Scotiabank for advancing our work to solve for both skill shortages in Canada and displacement worldwide. Our organization is one step closer to our dream of creating a world where talented people living as refugees can compete for global jobs, and where access depends on potential and not the privilege of living without fear.”

‘Active participation, 365 days a year’

Scotiabank’s summit is a kick off to a series of global events at the bank, focused on advancing inclusion for people who identify as black, indigenous, LGBT+, people of colour, people with disabilities and women, she said.

And while the focus on specific days helps, Mason said true change requires “active participation, 365 days of the year.”

“That’s what creates a systemically inclusive working environment,” she said. “It requires focus and commitment if we – as allies – are to always challenge bias, confront discrimination and commit to valuing every voice.”

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