“80% of People of Colour expect to experience racism in the workplace. When we walk into the building – we’re already on guard that someone will do or say something hurtful – so it’s hard to perform your best when your mind is carrying that baggage every day”.
Throughout Nathan Hall’s dynamic career, which has led to him becoming one of Ottawa’s 2020 Forty Under 40 award recipients and a Forbes Council member, one thing has always remained constant – a desire to impact society and change the world. Driven by purpose and always trusting the process, Nathan’s personal and professional journey is one that prioritizes creativity, changing society, achieving tangible results, and impacting people in a meaningful way. In addition to doubling revenues within his first year on the job as CEO at Simple Story – an award-winning video marketing agency based in Ottawa, Ontario – Nathan serves as a Director on the board of the Causeway Work Centre and recently launched Culture Check, a new social impact business that provides support, education and best practices to address racial discrimination in workplaces across Canada and the US.
While every step in Nathan’s career has been well-aligned with his philosophy of creating tangible impact and changing society, Culture Check might be his most targeted effort yet. For those wondering “Is racism in the workplace really a problem – in Canada?” Nathan’s original and compilation of third-party research reveals some unsettling statistics. “50% of People of Colour rarely or never tell anyone in their organization about their experiences with racism – making it an invisible phenomenon for those it doesn’t impact,” said Nathan. The Culture Check website displays data that unveils the state of racism within the Canadian workforce – including the fact that racialized communities of equal education earn far less than their White counterparts, and that most companies do not know how to navigate this subject effectively.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t just the awareness of statistical trends and data that led to the formation of Culture Check, it was Nathan’s direct – and blatantly public – experience of racism that occurred after he created a LinkedIn post to celebrate being an Ottawa 2020 Forty Under 40 recipient. “No one respects people with a criminal record! The first thing you and bros need to do is respect the laws and society,” read a comment within a sea of celebration from the Canadian business community. Although he was relieved to see that he had the support of people who didn’t look like him, words from his White peers that followed the condemning of the racist comment included “I can’t believe someone would say something like that”, or “ How could he talk like that in a professional space?” – quickly reminding Nathan about the invisibility of racism outside of racial minorities.
With the timing of Nathan’s experience happening in tandem with global uprisings against racism, Nathan saw an influx of companies speaking out against racism, but little action being done to lead an anti-racist organization. From personal experience and his knowledge of the data surrounding racism, Nathan knew that without real action, the looming insecurity and fear that results in most racist incidents never being spoken about or reported wasn’t going to change. Based on the belief that many people aspire to do better but don’t know how – Culture Check is the product of Nathan’s determination to facilitate reconciliation, create transparency, and improve workplace environments across Canada and the USA.
While isolation commonly affects entrepreneurs and business leaders, its magnitude is amplified when you’re part of a racialized community. “Even though we can both acquire the same degrees, there’s so much that goes on behind the experiences of acquiring those degrees that change your trajectory and what your perceived capabilities are,” said Nathan. “80% of People of Colour expect to experience racism in the workplace. When we walk into the building – we’re already on guard that someone will do or say something hurtful – so it’s hard to perform your best when your mind is carrying that baggage every day”.
Someone that’s been instrumental in helping Nathan remove some of the baggage that he carries? His TEC Chair, Pascal St-Jean. “Building a startup is already hard – then to add in the pressure of fighting racism? The weight is astronomical. Every decision I make feels so much bigger because it’s magnified by the cause. Having a champion by my side has been important for getting the internal chatter under wraps,” said Nathan.
By leveraging his business accomplishments and commitment to strong principles, Pascal St-Jean – as his mentor and coach – is dedicated to helping his members soar. When asked about Culture Check and his group member, Nathan Hall, Pascal stated:
“Culture Check is addressing a serious, and unaddressed issue – not only within the business community – but within our communities in general. More organizations and leaders are seeking to create safer and more productive workspaces for racialized communities, but they are completely at a loss in understanding how to do it. It makes a topic that is tough for many business leaders to wrap their minds around more tangible. It is one of those businesses, that once you hear it, it just makes total sense.”
Pascal adds, “I have zero doubt that Culture Check will change lives. It is the right time, the right business model, and it has the right founder – Nathan Hall.”
For more information about Culture Check and to Become a Corporate Ally™, tap into its community of like-minded organizations that are making a difference in the fight against racism at https://culturecheck.com/ or by emailing Nathan@CultureCheck.com