George Floyd has galvanized the world in a manner that countless other race-related murders have not. It is a moment to be seized and First Cobalt has lent its voice to change on Twitter:
No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. – Nelson Mandela pic.twitter.com/O1z1IbpUji
— First Cobalt Corp. (@FirstCobalt) June 7, 2020
— Trent Mell (@TrentMell) June 7, 2020
It is important for all of us to participate in the global dialogue that was provoked by the death of George Floyd. Racism is not only a problem in America, and we all have a role to play if we want to strive for a better future. In the U.S., Goldman Sachs, Peloton, BlackRock, Nike and Microsoft are some of the companies that have taken a stand. In Canada, Manulife, Bank of Montreal, CIBC, Shopify and Lululemon have issued statements or made financial pledges. I am disappointed that we have not seen any public statements from our larger Canadian mining companies.
Chief Mark Saunders, Toronto’s first black chief of police, observed that we are living through a historic period that will change the course of history. He points out that systemic racism and violence at the hands of members of law enforcement is an issue in Canada: “This is not an American phenomenon. It is real, it is powerful, and we need to address it.”
Speaking out is a first step. We then need to back up those statements with concrete actions to break down systemic barriers. First Cobalt does have some cultural diversity on its board and among the employee base but that doesn’t mean we can’t do more. We currently have limited financial resources to fund societal change, but we have a voice, and we can take action by promoting diversity in our workplace and ensuring that we have career advancement opportunities for underrepresented communities. By creating a diverse workforce, we create a catalyst for change from within as well as mentors and role models for young people.
The mining industry has made some strides on the issue of diversity. The focus at the corporate level has been on advancement of women through the executive ranks and around the boardroom table. At the operational level, the emphasis is often on creating meaningful opportunities for Indigenous communities where we operate. In order to increase cultural diversity within our ranks, Canadian demographics imply that a concerted effort must be made at the corporate office level. This is a frontier that requires more attention.
My wife, a Korean immigrant, faced her own challenges with racism growing up in Canada but never to the point of being afraid of the police. The video of George Floyd’s death at the hands of law enforcement is so disturbing and yet the bigger tragedy is the fact that we have seen this too many times before. This time, people rose up and said, enough is enough, black lives matter.
— Trent Mell is president and CEO of First Cobalt (TSXV: FCC; US-OTC: FTSSF).