Creating a Safe Space at Work

“You plant the seed, you may not see the bloom, but you helped plant that seed for their future.” – Laverne

Laverne has been an essential part of Quint since it was created. She is a founding board member of Quint, and one of the reasons the organization has the pulse and impact it does today.

As a lifelong resident of Pleasant Hill and many years of community organizing in the core neighbourhoods,  Laverne’s leadership was an instrumental part of the vision that led to the formation of Quint. As a member of the founding Board, Laverne helped ensure that the foundation of Quint was solid with a clear strategic plan and policies that have shaped the organization as it developed in the early years.

“I feel safe and included at Quint.  I feel like I am my best self and that I am a part of this organization.”

This has not always been the case for one of our staff members Alex, who works at Quint’s Male Youth Lodge. Growing up in Nigeria and moving to Finland and eventually Canada, Alex has both positive and negative experiences when it comes to work.

“Some of my previous experiences were horrible and I struggled to find work in the previous community that I lived in. Applicants who were of a different race were mostly ignored when they applied for vacant job positions even when they meet the requirements of the job. This in turn sends a message that even when you get hired, you are not protected in the organization.  

“Black people in Canada face many systemic challenges and barriers in the hiring process. Even when experience is comparable to that of non-Black candidates, systemic biases make it more difficult for Black candidates to land positions for which they are qualified. Compared to non-racialized job seekers Black job seekers are discriminated against on initial resume screens and are 3x less likely for Black-sounding resumes to get a callback vs. White-sounding”[1]

When asked, Alex had this advice for employers in creating a safe space at work:

“Employers need to create a space that is safe and inclusive for People of Colour. An inclusive atmosphere is when staff have that sense of belonging in an organization. This means that he or she gets involved during the vital decision making and social activities related to the operational objectives.  Organizations that have included me during the decision making that relates to our clients more specifically the clients I interact with on a daily or weekly basis has proven that my inputs were not underrated. This in turn has shown a sense of acceptability and gives the employee a complete assurance of acceptance and creates an atmosphere for them to give their best. My recommendation to employers is that they should ensure hiring staff are educated on the rationale of inclusiveness and diversity during the recruitment process. During the hiring process ensure that each applicant is given a fair and equal opportunity when accepting the job applications not minding their color, race and gender”

Following Black History month, we made a commitment to intentionally amplify BIPOC voices throughout the entire year, and not just in February. We are honouring this commitment through our diversity and inclusion blog series featuring Quint staff members who have personally chosen topics that they want to share with the greater community. This blog is part two of the series.

[1] https://www.bcg.com/en-ca/publications/2020/reality-of-anti-black-racism-in-canada

As the organization continued to grow, Laverne’s position evolved into the  Director of Operations but she continued to oversee and guide the affordable housing program. She is also one of our main social function organizers ensuring that we maintain a strong and cohesive staff team/family, something that she prides herself on. She has worked hard to make sure staff feel included, heard and part of the decision making process within the organization.

Laverne also played a large role in organizing Quint’s community events, what she calls “the fun work”. This included launching and planning the annual Our Core Communities Shine events, numerous community BBQ’s, and anniversary celebrations.

Laverne’s impact is throughout all aspects of Quint’s programming and practices. Her legacy will be that of dedication, compassion, and perseverance, always fighting for the good of her community and the people in it. On behalf of the Quint staff, board of directors and the community at large, Laverne we are so thankful for your leadership and vision to bring Quint to reality. Your contributions will continue to transcend the 26 years you have committed to our west side core communities and beyond.

Happy Retirement!