Throughout my years of practice, I was the only Black lawyer in my office, or one of less than a handful. A few years ago, while in New York on business, I attended a “diversity reception” hosted by an international law firm. That evening, I walked into a gallery with over a thousand lawyers who looked like me. Even the keynote speaker, Kenneth Frazier, Chairman & CEO of Merck looked like me. For the first time, in a decade of practicing law, I felt like I belonged to my profession.
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a lawyer. I went to law school, fell in love with international trade, and went on to pursue a career in international trade law. However, as the only Black woman in my office, I became acutely aware of the limitations of organizations that lack representation. They are limited in their ability to design innovative and inclusive goods and services. Organizations that lack representation are unable to develop and implement public policy that takes into account diverse needs and identities. Organizations become vulnerable, less competitive, and they are ultimately unable to serve those to whom they are accountable.
When my children began to experience racism in their school at a young age, my trajectory changed. I co-founded a non-profit organization, Parents for Diversity, to address discrimination within the education system. I continue to work in this area, centering my work around anti-racism, equity and inclusive education.
Today I work with companies, non-profits and other organizations to address racism and other forms of oppression. I provide training and professional development on equity and inclusion. Using my professional background and lived experience, I consult with organizations to develop practices and policies to foster a culture where all members of the organization feel they belong. As a Director for Amnesty International Canada, Parents for Diversity and the Parkdale Food Centre, I continue to work on issues related to anti-oppression.
"Mante Molepo is a champion of diversity and inclusion, and a tireless defender of human rights. Mante knows that it is not enough to profess our commitment to rights and justice. Unless and until we actively acknowledge, address and dismantle the systemic racism and inequality that are entrenched in society and reflected in our institutions, real change will be illusory and superficial at best.
Mante brings a host of experience from a variety of settings, along with valuable insights to guide challenging and important conversations about racism and oppression. She also offers a passionate determination to help effect transformative change. Her voice at the Amnesty International Canada board table has been so clear and very helpful. Like all organizations, human rights groups have far to go in truly embracing diversity and inclusion. And she has spearheaded and supported action that offers us concrete and meaningful steps for getting there.
Mante Molepo has a vision for change and the skills to help organizations build the roadmap for achieving it."
Alex Neve, Secretary General,
Amnesty International Canada