Federal Minister of Innovation Joins BPTN and Industry CIOs to Address Anti-Black Racism in AI

Toronto, ON – [Thursday, February 1, 2024] – Black Professionals in Tech Network (BPTN) is proud to announce the upcoming CIO Responsible Development Roundtable on Thursday, February 16, 2024. This pivotal event, featuring Minister François-Philippe Champagne, Federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, will convene 20 esteemed CIOs and CTOs from top US and Canadian companies to discuss AI and address anti-Black racism with its continued development and use.

The CIO Responsible Development Roundtable comes at a critical time, as AI’s role in driving innovation and change in North America’s business landscape continues to grow exponentially. “AI’s potential is boundless, although there are risks that models reflect the biases of their creators and data sets. This is why our government believes that we must have guardrails to ensure that AI development minimizes potential discrimination, like racial bias,” says François-Philippe Champagne, Federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, “I’m pleased to participate in discussions to ensure AI technologies are developed responsibly and applaud BPTN for convening the necessary industry conversation and actions to ensure that AI development and deployment is inclusive of Black individuals, communities, and leaders.”

In October 2023, BPTN brought together over 20 CIOs and senior tech executives to discuss how to build AI responsibly and collectively—the consensus: reducing racism in AI starts with having diverse talent at the center of AI implementation. Paving the way for an inclusive future in AI, BPTN aims to train and hire 10,000 new Black software developers through Obsidi® Academy over the next decade, calling for industry leaders to join the charge.

Obsidi® Academy is a transformative tech bootcamp designed to address the underrepresentation of Black professionals in the tech industry, particularly in AI development. Created in 2021 by BPTN, this one-of-a-kind acquisition solution provides best-in-class talent with custom industry-leading training to achieve a company’s business-critical goals on day one. 

A number of CIOs from organizations, including BMO, TELUS, and CIBC, have already answered the call. This momentum prompted BPTN to open 100 additional Obsidi® Academy training slots this year to empower companies with highly skilled Black tech talent to support ethical AI implementation.

The next CIO Responsible Development Roundtable event takes place on February 16, 2024, at BPTN’s head office in Toronto, Canada, and will gather senior executive leaders and the Federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

“AI reflects the people that built it. We must avoid institutionalizing racism in AI through integrating a diversity of thought. Having diverse developers building and contributing to such technological innovations is key to avoiding rolling back some of our societal progress. We cannot merely rely on the hope that the misuse of AI won’t occur; we must be intentional in our approach. Obsidi® Academy is that opportunity”, advises Lekan Olawoye, CEO and founder of BPTN.

“We continually seek ways to help build the most inclusive bank in the market, one that fosters a culture of care, inspires innovation, and encourages respect, said Tim Clark, Senior Vice President and CIO, Commercial and Corporate Platforms at TD. As a founding sponsor of Obsidi® Academy , TD is proud  to help foster mentorship and upskilling opportunities in emerging technologies such as AI for Black tech talent.”

“Artificial intelligence and machine learning are increasingly important technologies fueling the next wave of BMO innovation. We are committed to harnessing the potential of these emerging technologies to power real financial progress for our customers, clients, and the communities we serve in a way that supports an inclusive society with zero barriers to inclusion. Learning from difference and embracing diversity in our approach by empowering Black tech talent helps BMO compete at the forefront of digitization.” – Bojan Pavlovic, CIOO, North American P&BB and Wealth Management, BMO

“The future of technology will rely on advancements in AI and automation, and we need to get ahead of the curve to unlock the transformational power of generative AI. Having meaningful conversations and investing in attracting, advancing, and retaining Black tech talent in tangible ways is an essential step forward,” adds Hesham Fahmy, CIO of TELUS.

“Remaining at the forefront of innovation in technology is integral to making the ambitions of our clients real, and our commitment to the Obsidi® Academy ensures that advancements in AI are both inclusive and reflective of the clients and communities we serve,” said Mario Hrapko, Senior Vice-President, Architecture, Data & Analytics, CIBC.

In partnership with the Federal Minister and leading CIOs, BPTN is determined to champion proactive strategies against anti-Black racism in AI. The first step is assisting companies in growing their Black full-stack developer talent pool, and step two will be defined at the February 2024 CIO roundtable.

To receive an invitation and secure a spot at the February 16, 2024, CIO Responsible Development Roundtable, please contact Middlé Lemoine, Marketing Operations Lead at BPTN, at marketing@bptn.com.

About Black Professionals in Tech Network Inc.

Black Professionals in Tech Network (BPTN) is North America’s largest network of Black tech professionals. Founded in 2018, BPTN bridges the network gap in the tech industry by providing Black technical and business professionals with senior executive sponsorship, skills building, and a strong peer network to level up their careers. BPTN partners with companies to attract, hire, and retain Black tech talent. With over ninety thousand members, BPTN launched Obsidi®, a multi-sided tech job board and networking platform for professionals seeking jobs and connecting with employers of choice. 

SOURCE Black Professionals in Tech Network.

For further information visit www.obsidi.com/academy-partners or contact Middlé Lemoine, Marketing Operations Lead, BPTN at middle@bptn.com