The Onyx Initiative Welcomes 170 Black Students Into its Inaugural Training and Mentorship/Coaching Program for Corporate Canada Recruitment

The Initial Cohort of Scholars Hail From Provinces Across Canada

Over 60 Corporate, Education, and Community Partnerships In Less Than Three Months

TORONTO, Feb. 4, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ - The Onyx Initiative, a Toronto based non-profit established to bridge the pervasive gap in the recruitment and selection of Black college and university students, and recent graduates for roles in corporate Canada is thrilled to announce a slew of successes since its launch in October 2020, including over 300 applications for its Scholars Program and the selection of 170 participants for the first cohort; both the result of a targeted outreach and engagement campaign with regional Black Student Associations, campus career centres, community organizations, and prominent social media forums.

Onyx also boasts strong continued support for its unique, collaborative approach to transforming the hiring and promotion practices that disproportionately exclude Black students and professionals. Telus, Hyundai, CIBC, Air Miles, City of Mississauga, Absolute, PSP Investments, GoEasy, IGM Financial, Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, and Oxford Properties Group - the first commercial real estate company to partner with Onyx - are amongst the new organizations joining an already impressive list of forward-thinking companies like Bell, TD, PwC, Manulife, and the Coalition of Innovation Leaders Against Racism (CILAR), whose members include MLSE, J.P. Morgan Chase, MaRS, and many others. An equally notable range of education and community partners have also come on board, including McGill University, Trent University, Queen's University, Smith School of Business at Queen's University, University of Waterloo, University of Guelph, UBC Sauder School of Business, and Centennial College to name a few; as well as Black in Sport Business, the Hamilton Black History Council, Empowerment Squared, and Aardvark Inc.

"Our desire to maximize the impact of the social justice movement and ensure key awareness, access, and expansion milestones were achieved meant that we had to hit the ground running," said Nigela Purboo, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Onyx Initiative. "Too often progressive movements aimed at addressing systemic disparities turn into moments once the media spotlight dims. Thankfully, the current, global awakening has retained its relevance and afforded us the opportunity to forge amazing alliances in a short period of time."

Onyx's ambitious growth strategy is closely aligned with a significant investment in personal and professional development resources to enhance the scholars' existing skills and increase their proficiency in areas that are fundamental for thriving in any workplace environment. The program's point of entry includes a Plum Profile to assess strengths, personalities, problem-solving capabilities, and the types of roles and responsibilities that align with each scholars' particular work style. Insights gleaned from the Plum Profile informs how they choose to navigate the 15 hours of online courses included in an Onyx-curated, LinkedIn Learning Path, completion of the courses is required before beginning an internship or full-time job.

The third element of the organization's cohesive support system is a branded intranet platform which serves as a hub for the hundreds of job postings Onyx has received from its corporate partners. The platform is also home to career-related news and information, communities of interest, where active engagement with fellow participants is encouraged, webinars led by diverse industry experts, and job fairs hosted by partners.

"Transitioning from the classroom to a career can be overwhelming and requires a nuanced blend of soft and hard skills to successfully adapt to an ever-changing job market and the culture within specific companies," said Wayne Purboo, Co-Founder, Onyx Initiative. "At the heart of our organization is a fervent desire to not only help Black students and recent graduates access prime opportunities, but to have the opportunity to excel and advance into decision-making roles. Greater representation at the top is a key catalyst for changing the perceptions and policies that often impede progress."

"As we embark on Black History Month, we are especially motivated to uphold the traditions of the tireless change-makers whose passion and fortitude paved the way for the freedoms we enjoy and opened doors so that we could achieve our goals," added Nigela "We sincerely hope that participation in the Onyx program is the first of many important steps on our scholars' journey to fulfilling and impactful careers."

Onyx's efforts to scale up in a timely manner are also reflected internally with the active recruitment of mentors and coaches whose relevant corporate sector experience and leadership capabilities helps guide the matching process with scholars. Pivotal senior staff hires include the Director of Outreach, Keenan Lewis Jeppesen, whose professional experience includes a key media sales role for Viacom where he spent most of his time on the Black Entertainment Television (BET) brand; and Director of Career Success, Shane Malcolm, who prior to joining Onyx served as Executive Director of Leadership Niagara, the region's top community leadership program.

Applications for the Onyx Scholars Program are accepted year-round. The selection process for the second cohort has already begun with onboarding slated for the spring. For more information, please contact

About Onyx Initiative

Onyx Initiative is a non-profit organization founded by entrepreneurs and philanthropists Wayne and Nigela Purboo in the wake of the global social justice movement and the subsequent call to action. The organization was established on the simple premise that anyone seeking meaningful employment and advancement should have an equal opportunity to do so. Onyx's purpose is to expand the Black talent pipeline via cohesive, mutually beneficial partnerships to close the current systemic gap in the recruiting and selection of Black university and college students and recent graduates for roles in corporate Canada. Onyx's model is based on a dual and complimentary value proposition – leverage post-secondary educational resources to create an expansive supply of high potential Black talent and collaborate with prominent businesses to nurture a growing demand for more inclusive internships and full-time placements.


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Nicole Chrysostom-Murray, Communications Specialist

SOURCE The Onyx Initiative