Years ago, during a board recruitment interview, I was asked why I wanted to join the board. I was honest and, much to the committee’s surprise, said, “I want a seat at the table.” The reason for my response was two-fold. First, I understood the importance of someone with my lived experience, as a Black woman, to offer a perspective to the board that was absent. The board had never had a Black Director. I also discussed the importance of not just recruiting a Black woman to their board, but ensuring that the environment would be one where the advice and perspectives I offered would have value, and would strengthen board governance.
Over 15 years of experience working with organizations to advance diversity, equality and inclusion.
While boards focus on recruiting Indigenous and equality-deserving people, they may pay less attention to retention. Boards and senior leaders must be able to identify, mitigate and remove the systemic barriers that limit the advancement of Indigenous and equality-deserving groups. I work with clients who want to advance diversity, equality and inclusion but don’t know where to begin; who have developed anti-racism or diversity, equity and inclusion strategies but don’t know how to implement them; or who have worked to recruit Indigenous and equality-deserving individuals but cannot retain them.
My experience on boards in different sectors has informed my approach to governance, one that is informed by my signature Tluo Model of Organizational Change. I have served on the Board of Directors of Amnesty International Canada, the Parkdale Food Centre, and other organizations. I co-founded and co-chaired a non-profit organization, Parents for Diversity, to address equitable and inclusive education for students across Canada. Today, I sit on the Board of Governors for the Ottawa Hospital, and I am an elected member of the Ontario Bar Association Council.
Through my consultation services, I advise boards on system-wide change to cultivate a culture of belonging, where every member of the organization is treated equitably and can experience full participation and belonging. I also have extensive networks across communities. Through the Seat at the Table initiative , I support board succession planning by establishing relationships with equality-deserving candidates interested in governance. As a consultant, I challenge my clients to reflect on whose voices are being centered, who in the community they are engaging, and how structural changes are being embedded into the very fabric of governance.
Board governance is more than having a seat at the table. It is about bringing perspectives that have historically been ignored and excluded. It is also about optimizing the full potential of boards in order to ensure effective stewardship and oversight.
Membership and Associations:
Canadian Association of Black Lawyers
Canadian Bar Association
County of Carleton Law Association
Governance Professionals of Canada
Institute of Corporate Directors
Law Society of Ontario
Ontario Bar Association
Prosci Change Management
Black Female Lawyers Network
"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, Former Secretary General
Amnesty International Canada