Black History Month at Vena: Coming Together To Show Up, Speak Up and Team Up

February 1, 2023 |
by Marisa Iacobucci

This February at Vena, as we celebrate Black History Month, we’re taking a look at what Black History Month means through the eyes of our employees. For some, this month means acknowledging all the people who came ahead of us, recognizing their achievements and paying tribute to the pioneers who paved the way for us today. For others, it’s a time of reflection and unity, to come together to address the challenges we’re still facing in our society.

“Black History Month to me is a month of reflection and unity. I use this month to reflect on how far we’ve come, but also to unite and discuss some of the challenges we still face.”
                                                                  —Babatunde Akinpelu
                                                                      Senior Manager, Application Support at Vena


Melanite Logo - Colored Fist


This month also marks the one-year anniversary of the formation of Melanite, our Black employee-run resource group. The group, which supports Black employees throughout the organization and community, is open to all employees looking to learn, grow and contribute to a diverse, inclusive and supportive work environment.

“Melanite is our safe space where we can all come together to normalize Blackness and amplify Black voices, culture and experiences inside and outside of our workplace,” says Siobhan Mondesire, Melanite Co-chair and Vice President of Demand Generation at Vena.

What does this safe place feel like for Black employees? It welcomes them to have uncomfortable discussions, promote dialogue, feel supported and build trust throughout the organization. Siobhan explains, “This includes supporting Black employees’ well-being and recognizing their anger, exhaustion and grieving when they are often faced with traumatic stories and images about racial violence in the news. It also means providing them with resources and tools to tackle some of the issues Black employees face in the workplace and addressing them collectively through opportunities for learning and growth. So when it comes to our diversity, equity and inclusion practices, we’re asking what more can we do to continue building a diverse workforce—and more importantly, making it a company-wide effort. ”

Strengthening Vena’s Culture

Vena employees will connect and learn from one another this month during a roundtable discussion on disarming microaggressions and the role we can all play to become better allies in the workplace. 

“In this roundtable, participants across Vena will learn about the practical strategies they can apply when they overhear or witness a microaggression so they can feel empowered to be an upstander.  They’ll also leave the session with a personal commitment and action, ” explains Shada McShannon, Director, People Partners & DEI at Vena.

Honoring Black Leaders—Past, Present and Future

“When I think of Black History Month, I think of all the people who came ahead of me and paved the way for people not only of my skin color, but people of all skin colors. The people who had no intention of being labeled as exceptional people of history, but were doing what they felt was right or what they felt like should happen in the world … ”
                                                                       —Jarran Francis
                                                                           Senior Manager, Customer Success at Vena

Throughout Black History Month, we’ll be highlighting the achievements of Black leaders throughout time, bringing together Black Vena customers to discuss what it’s like being a Black professional in finance and also telling the stories of Black professionals in tech who are excelling in their careers and shaping history today. For this year’s Obsidi by BPTN Awards, we’re hoping some of Vena’s top talent nominees will be recognized for their achievements in the industry.

Creating Our Best Future

“What does Black History Month mean to me? It means opportunity. It means visibility.”
                                                                          —Olalekan Adebayo,
                                                                              Manager, Application Support at Vena


Black History Month is a time to learn, grow and celebrate, but it also inspires us to look toward the future and continue to show up, speak up, team up and lift others up—to make a real difference in our personal and professional lives every day which carries through beyond this month.

How will we do that at Vena? Melanite will continue to share resources and tools for Vena employees to use to continue learning and growing inside and outside of work. They’re also keen to look for more ways to bring diverse Black communities together to create intergenerational connections, support and opportunities.

Recently, Melanite partnered with BlackMINT, a Canadian non-profit organization focused on inspiring Black youth to pursue careers in the tech sector, to close the financial and software literacy gap for Black students and break down barriers in tech. They hosted free Excel Microsoft training and mentorship workshops for underrepresented youth both virtually and at Vena’s headquarters in the Liberty Village area of Toronto.

Did you know? Last year, Vena won Comparably Awards for Best Company Culture, Best Company for Diversity, Best Company for Women, Best CEO and more. For the full list of Comparably awards Vena won in 2021, click here.

Come grow with us! Vena is hiring. We have offices in Toronto, Canada and in London, England. Visit our Careers page for current job openings or follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to learn more about life at Vena.



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