Keynote Speakers

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Maydianne CB Andrade

Inclusion Across Intersections: Race & Gender in SETT
Assessment of professional achievement is a fundamental feature of careers in SETT and many other fields, where it affects career path decisions, hiring, compensation, resource availability, promotion, and opportunities for further progress. Data illustrate that (unconscious) biases can negatively impact women across fields, and may be particularly acute in fields like SETT in which stereotyped gender expectations are strong.  Efforts to counter these gendered effects have gained traction in many sectors. However, reticence about the ways in which racialized women experience bias and exclusion in the workplace has led to uneven progress, and continued gaps in representation. I discuss some of the stereotypes that differentially affect racialized women, and how workplace practices and individual behaviours may be employed to mitigate these effects.

Maydianne CB Andrade is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) with a PhD from Cornell University. Professor Andrade’s research examines how links between ecology, evolution, and behaviour influence species diversity. Her many research recognitions include a Canada Research Chair, and being named an International member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Leadership roles at UTSC have included terms as Vice Dean Faculty Affairs and Equity, and Special Advisor to the Dean on Inclusive Recruitment and Equity Education.

An advocate for inclusion, she is the inaugural President of the Canadian Black Scientists Network. She also founded and is co-Chair of the Toronto Initiative for Diversity and Excellence, a group of faculty dedicated to making Universities more inclusive through peer-to-peer education and leadership advising.

The University of Toronto Alumni Association awarded her the Ludwik and Estelle Jus Memorial Human Rights Prize in recognition of the impact of this work. Her outreach to increase public engagement in science and equity includes hosting an episode of The Nature of Things (First Animals), and the award-winning podcast The New Normal, which examines how the disruption of the pandemic may catalyse a more equitable society.

Michael Bach

The Right IDEA: Doing Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility Right
“Diversity” and “inclusion” have become buzz words. They’re used in casual conversation by CEOs and world leaders alike. But how do you actually do diversity and inclusion right, in a way that isn’t performative, and has the intended impact?   Knowing that diversity and inclusion are important and knowing where to begin when developing an IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility) program or strategy, are two different things. Many workplaces know that IDEA is both the right thing and the smart thing to do, but simply don’t know where to start. 

The Right IDEA: Doing Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility Right is an engaging and witty look at how organizations can get started on their IDEA journey. Based on his best-selling and award-winning book Birds of All Feathers: Doing Diversity and Inclusion Right, Michael presents his 6-step model on how an organization can start and stay on its IDEA journey.

Participants will come away with a clear understanding of: the pillars of an IDEA business case; what components to include in an assessment; the secret ingredient to a successful IDEA strategy and how to measure IDEA.

Michael Bach is the founder and Chair of the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion. He is nationally and internationally recognized as a thought leader and subject matter expert in the fields of inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility, bringing a vast knowledge of leading practices in a live setting to his work.

Prior to taking on this role, he was the National Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for KPMG Canada, a role he created and held for the seven years.  Additionally, Michael completed a 2½ year secondment as Deputy Chief Diversity Officer for KPMG International.

Over the course of his career, Michael has received repeated recognition for his work, including being named:

• Women of Influence’s Canadian Diversity Champions (2011 & 2012)
• Catalyst Canada Honours Human Resources/Diversity Leader (2011)
• Inspire Award as LGBTQ Person of the Year (2011)
• Out on Bay Street Leaders to be Proud of LGBT Advocate Workplace Award (2011)
• Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council’s IS Award (2010)
• Canadian HR Reporter Individual Achievement Award (2010)

Under Michael’s leadership, CCDI has received numerous awards, including winning Canadian HR Reporter’s Readers’ Choice Award in the category of Diversity/Employment Equity Consultant in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Michael has a Post Graduate Certificate in Diversity Management from Cornell University and holds the Cornell Certified Diversity Professional, Advanced Practitioner (CCDP/AP) designation.

His 2020 book Birds of All Feathers- Doing Diversity and Inclusion Right is a Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and Amazon best-seller, and recipient of the silver 2020 Nautilus Book Award in the category of Rising to the Moment.

Natasha Ferguson

Breaking Down Barriers For Women in the Trades
For decades the construction industry has been dominated by men, however Natasha Ferguson is on a mission to change that. As a woman of colour, Natasha is among a small group of females in Toronto who are using their work to tear down old gender biases and stereotypes about women in the construction industry. Two years ago Natasha launched EthelFox Construct Group, which she named after her late mother and her youngest daughter. She now employs more than a dozen women from a variety of ethnicities and backgrounds, which account for 70 per cent of her work force. Together the women have not only proven they have what it takes to be leaders in the construction industry, they are slowly changing the casual sexism and ‘old boys’ attitude that continues to persist in the industry. Natasha’s compelling story shines a light on the barriers women face in the construction industry and how she is helping women to overcome them through hard work and perseverance.

Natasha Ferguson is the founder of ETHELFOX CONSTRUCT GROUP, a full-service construction and development company located in Toronto that provides distinctive build and design services for residential homeowners.  As one of the only female-owned and operated construction companies in Canada, Natasha’s company helps to break down barriers for women in construction. 

Before devoting herself full-time to her company, Natasha worked in the marketing and advertising world for 15 years, where she worked with many popular brands as a creative and technical project manager and director.

Her love for the trades developed as a young child thanks to her father who would take her to his job sites and allow her to tinker while he worked. 

With over 20 years in both the public and private sector, Natasha has experience in construction management consultation, team building, professional development, and strategic implementation.

As the Lead General Contractor of her company she has several trades under her construction belt, including carpentry, drywall, tiling, hardscape, landscape, and framing. This has allowed her to become a strong mentor and teacher within the construction industry. 

Natasha is also an avid supporter of women in the trades and is the co-founder of a non-profit organization called A Women’s Work, which supports the development of women in the trades. 

Since launching her company in 2013, she has been featured in more than a dozen media interviews and uses these opportunities to discuss the challenges people of colour face in the construction industry.