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Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Ivey alumni accelerate positive social change during COVID-19

  • Melanie Rodriguez
  • |
  • Nov 18, 2020
Ivey alumni accelerate positive social change during COVID-19

Melanie Rodriguez, HBA '14, is the Community and Network Engagement Manager at the Ontario Nonprofit Network and Founder of Capacity Creation. She showcases how Ivey alumni are working to advance racial equity and support non-profits during COVID-19.

Social impact organizations around the world are facing the greatest financial and operational challenges in history. Recent studies for Ontario nonprofits indicate that one in five are expected to close by the end of the year. Globally, over 96% of nonprofits stated that they faced negative consequences from the pandemic with consequences ranging from revenue loss, to increased costs, to disrupted supply chains. For communities, the challenges are even greater. The COVID-19 pandemic is amplifying inequalities and disproportionately impacting certain populations such as people living in vulnerable circumstances, Indigenous peoples, people from racialized or LGBTQ2S communities, and people with disabilities. 

How are Ivey alumni working to address challenges and lead positive change? By leveraging the strategic planning and leadership skills learned at Ivey to pivot, collaborate, and support nonprofits and communities when they need it most. 

Using a data-driven approach to advance racial equity

Nan DasGupta, MBA 1996 and Managing Director and Senior Partner of Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and Kate Banting, HBA 2005 and Head of Social Impact and Marketing of BCG Canada, helped BCG pivot during the pandemic to address anti-black racism in Canada, and help organizations across sectors lead systemic change.

Using a data-driven approach, BCG partnered with CivicAction to identify where the greatest gaps exist, discover what solutions have been the most effective around the globe, and determine what key leaders and organizations needed to collectively drive change. What was uncovered surprised some, but not all on how deep-rooted the issues are. They will be sharing their findings in upcoming publications to help inform others on these important issues. Internally BCG is also taking action, further enhancing their already robust diversity and inclusion initiatives and reviewing internal policies and procedures and further enhancing their employee resource networks. In addition, the Canadian practice is doing their part to fulfill BCG’s overall commitments to reduce racism by donating over $100 million of talent resources, $1 million in cash, and convening thought-leaders and organizations that continue to innovate, advocate, and collaborate to reduce racism. 

“It’s really critical to look at the data and facts to understand how systemic anti-black racism exists pervasively in Canadian society. We know that it will require all of us across private, public and social sectors to take action to change many of these deeply ingrained inequities.” – Nan DasGupta

Adapting for today while helping communities prepare for the future

Farah Kurji, Ivey MBA 2017, Senior Manager of Philanthropy at TD, knew it was important to determine how they could support nonprofits and communities both in the short- and long-term. At the onset of the pandemic, Farah and her team introduced the TD Community Resilience Initiative to find opportunities to bring TD's business, philanthropy, and people together to strengthen community resilience both for today and into the future. The initiative includes not only philanthropy, but support from colleagues through virtual or remote volunteering, and businesses through relevant advice and insights, to ensure the future viability and long-term sustainability of the sector.

“From a philanthropy perspective, we have directed a portion of existing funds to support immediate COVID-19 recovery. We are continuing to honour all existing funding commitments with current grantees, working with them to redirect programmatic funding, as necessary, to address COVID-19 related impacts. In addition, we are providing flexibility to our current grantees from a reporting perspective, as we know the current environment continues to pose unique impact reporting challenges.”-Farah Kurji

While many challenges remain, Ivey alumni remain hopeful and determined to build a better future for nonprofits and communities around the world. 

“While the world has been impacted by COVID-19, vulnerable communities have disproportionately suffered from this disease. In a tumultuous time, it is inspiring to see frontline agencies, emergency services, municipalities, small businesses, funders and individuals work together for the common good. It’s hard work breaking down silos and forging new relationships but I am hopeful that this ‘emergency response’ will garner greater trust for nonprofits, foster more cross-sector collaboration, and create new opportunities for the nonprofit sector; allowing us to demonstrate our value in addressing the most persistent social and environmental issues.” Melanie Thomas, Ivey HBA 2011 and Senior Director of the Community Foundations of Canada.