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HBA students learn from inspiring community builder and social activist

  • Lena Robinson
  • |
  • Mar 25, 2021
HBA students learn from inspiring community builder and social activist

Community leader Olivia Nuamah currently serves as Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging at ACTRA

Lena Robinson is an HBA ’21 Candidate and member of the HBA Sustainability Certificate.

Earlier this month, the world marked one year since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and the murder of Breonna Taylor. As society recognizes the systemic oppression associated with these events and continues to bring issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion to the forefront of public dialogue, students at the Ivey Business School had the opportunity to hear from Olivia Nuamah, a leader in rights and justice advocacy. Nuamah currently serves as the Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging at ACTRA, an organization that focuses on improving the lives of Canadian professional performers and increasing the diversity of representation in the media. She also recently completed her PhD in Computer Science at the University of Warwick.

Focusing on Community-based Action

Recounting her experiences advocating for gender pay-equity, working toward poverty reduction, supporting Black communities in the GTA, and serving as the former Executive Director of Pride Toronto, Nuamah demonstrated the importance of community-based action in the face of social oppression. This approach ensures that the voices of those who are most affected by systemic challenges are amplified, leading to productive actions that address the most pressing obstacles.

Importance of Research and Self-Reflection

Another key message of the presentation was about the need for students to regularly research social issues and practice constant self-reflection. Nuamah urged students to be continuous critics of their personal stances on social issues, to always perform in-depth due diligence before engaging with organizations and individuals, and to focus on creating environments where everyone is encouraged be their authentic selves.

A Lesson for the Future

As students who are about to enter their careers during a period faced with massive social unrest, environmental deterioration, and economic uncertainty following the pandemic, Nuamah’s statement, “In times of erosion, the best kind of collaboration happens,” was particularly empowering. This sentiment demonstrated the importance of cooperative engagement across sectors, governments, and communities as students strive to build a society that promotes social, environmental, and economic well-being for all identities.