Desjardins Group becomes presenting sponsor of Building Diversity Awards

By Lincoln DePradine

Salwa Salek

Many awards are distributed annually for such things as academic achievement, volunteerism and job success. An awards’ ceremony, launched three years ago by the Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN), “is about recognizing leadership in construction’’, Rosemarie Powell, the organization’s executive director told The Caribbean Camera.

TCBN’s Building Diversity Awards (BDA) also “recognizes industry leaders who are advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion in the construction industry’’, she said.

The 2023 BDA, to be held May 13, at the Design Exchange on Bay Street in Toronto, has secured sponsorship from Desjardins, a leading Canadian financial cooperative.

“We are proud to be a part of the movement that is recognizing industry leaders who are creating a more inclusive environment and welcoming diverse workers into construction jobs,” said Salwa Salek, Chief Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Desjardins Group.

“We believe in the value created through diversity and the inclusion of people of all ages, genders, backgrounds, and experiences. Diversity makes us stronger and helps bring more skills and perspectives to the table.’’

TCBN is a 120-member coalition comprising representatives of trade unions, trades training centres, workforce development agencies, grassroots groups and community organizations.

The organization was founded in 2013 with a commitment to negotiating Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) to ensure “community members are accessing publicly funded jobs resulting from infrastructure construction contracts, and that hiring targets for diverse groups are met’’.

Rosemarie Powell
Majora Carter

This year’s final group of BDA recipients is being chosen by a committee of “diversity, equity and inclusion experts from both inside and outside’’ the construction industry, according to TCBN.

The winners, said TCBN officials, will be people who have created “inclusive workplaces that welcome diverse workers into construction jobs’’, and they will be saluted for “making internal systems’ change to ensure Black, Indigenous and other racialized workers – including women, youth and newcomers – are benefitting from the expanding economic opportunities found in construction’’. 

“Results are tangible when industry invests in diversity,’’ said Powell. “Not only is there a social return on investment for individuals and local communities, there is also an economic incentive that benefits our entire society. Community Benefits movements globally are changing the ways we build neighbourhoods, infrastructure and commercial developments.’’

The BDA’s keynote speaker is Majora Carter, a New York-born and raised African-American real estate developer, urban revitalization strategy consultant and award-winning broadcaster.

She’s also author of a 2022 publication titled, “Reclaiming Your Community: You Don’t Have to Move out of Your Neighborhood to Live in a Better One’’.

For more information on the BDA, visit