Angelina Brathwaite shares her vision for Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging at Brunel
In 2020, the tragic murder of George Floyd led to a renewed global conversation around racism, discrimination, and diversity. For many around the globe it was a wake-up call. An important moment sparking a new awareness and understanding of the discriminatory realities facing racialized people faced each day. However, for far too many the tragedy was nothing new. Merely the latest in an ever-growing list of reminders of how far we still have to go in the generations-old fight for racial justice. This was the case for long-time Bruneller Angelina Brathwaite, who used her heartbreak and outrage from the tragedy as motivation to do more. To make an impact.
As part of Angelina’s work to make lasting change, she decided to focus her efforts on examining areas for growth within Brunel and the larger pharmaceutical & recruiting industries by founding Brunel’s Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (D.I.B.) Committee.
Angelina joined the blog to discuss her background, her career, and her vision for the Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee.
Meet Angelina Brathwaite
This coming April Angelina Brathwaite will have been with Brunel for 16 years. Born in Montreal, Angelina is currently based in Toronto as the Senior Client Partner for Brunel’s Life Sciences team. Additionally, she serves as the Regional Leader for Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging for North and South America.
Angelina studied Business Administration and Criminology. After graduation she worked for the Royal Bank of Canada where she managed the Staff Banking Centre then switched gears and worked as a news reporter covering crime and other magazine format shows.
She eventually transitioned seamlessly into the recruiting industry. She said of that transition “you had to use some of the same investigation skills to find the right fit for your client. Twenty years ago we did not have the social media we have today. Back then you really had to but your detective skills to work and find creative ways to find candidates.”
Detailing her role as Senior Client Partner, Brathwaite said, “it entails a passion for people. It means building relationships with your internal stakeholders, your clients, candidates and members of the community. It is my responsibility to lead and mentor the Canadian Life Science team to ensure our recruitment processes align with our Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging strategy."
You serve as the Regional Leader for D.I.B. in the Americas, how did that come about? Why was that so important to you to take on?
Well, let’s be transparent here. I’m a woman and I’m also a woman of color. So I’ve had my own personal challenges and struggles in this life relating to my gender and ethnicity. But the spark that truly ignited it for me was George Floyd’s murder in the US.
I was thinking about my family, our children, and ancestry. I was just in a sad place.
If you remain silent, you’re contributing to the problem, so I decided to be part of the solution. I am so fortunate to work for an organization whose mission is Passion for People, so I knew I was not alone in what I was feeling.
I started to see some recognition and acknowledgement from some of our clients, primarily in the United States, offering their support of George Floyd and I said I wanted to stand in solidarity. I started asking ‘what can we do? How can we actually promote and support?’
I approached my Country Manager, Kerrianne MacMullin, about how I was feeling and the impact of racism and how unfair practices continue to exist in our society. That conversation and empathy led to the creation of the DIB committee for our region.
What impact do you feel the DIB committee has made?
The greatest success in my opinion is that everyone internally is talking about DIB. This is no easy feat.
The biggest challenge facing DIB is dismantling racist or biased systems. It is getting people, who aren’t directly affected, to not only care but to be proactive in creating equal and unified communities.
Through conversations, training, acknowledgements and forming alliances with marginalized communities I believe we are one of the most conscious staffing agencies in North America.
Outside of your work on our committee, are there other groups or projects you’re a part of working on D.I.B?
I am happy to sit on the board for Women Leaders in Pharma whose purpose is to empower women working in pharmaceutical industry to reach their full potential.
I mentor and coach new immigrants to Canada through another agency sponsored by the Government.
Recently I have been asked to sit on an Advisory board for a project that provides career related and work integrated experiential learning opportunities to marginalized youth.
By mid-year I will be on two other boards. I will not name them due to confidentially, but the organizations support the BIPOC and LGBTQIA communities.
You’ve been in recruiting a long time, and as you mention you work with several different groups and clients on this issue. What are some of the barriers you’ve noticed that prevent equity and inclusion in the industry?
I would respond to this question by saying people are often unaware of the ways in which their beliefs and perceptions of others affect their behavior—and the result can be an exclusive workplace culture.
What are some of your top priorities for 2022 as the leader in the region for DIB?
Would like to continue to build a culture of openness and willingness to learn about ourselves and others and to accept that we’re all humans in training.
Continue to foster relationships that eliminate unconscious bias in the workplace.
Focus on the emotional wellness of internal and external staff.
Hire Diversity professionals.
Who is your favorite DIB Leader
To be honest, I have to say one of my best friends Kike Ojo Thompson. Kike has been a leader in Equity consultancy for over 20 years. I would encourage any organization that wants “real talk” as it relates to Diversity and Equity to google her name and you will see how she has shaped and impacted our society. I have learned so much from her over the years. What I admire most about her is her ability to be unapologetically real about systemic racism and equity. Her organization Kojo institute has provided tools and support for companies to really help their employees successfully navigate through barriers.
Is there anything else you’d like to let people know?
Just that I’m happy to be a part of the process and part of the solution. I’m grateful for Committee and all of the work they are doing for our internal employees, candidates, contractors and clients. I am very fortunate to work for an organization whose mission and vision aligns with mine. It is also important to note that much credit needs to be extended to our leaders. Beth (Brunel’s President for the Americas Region) the support from Kerrianne (Brunel’s Country Manager in Canada) and for the support from our clients.
Brunel's Passion for People means All People
Brunel is always looking for ways to encourage diversity, inclusion and belonging in our own internal practices as well as looking to influence the Oil and Gas, Mining, Renewable Energy and Life Sciences industries to be more diverse as well through our recruiting efforts. For more information about work on DIB please read a summary of one of our recent "Moving the Needle on Diversity" Events.