You are now in the main content area

Opportunity For All: How Social Entrepreneurs Are Fostering Inclusive Workplaces

October 26, 2021
10:00 AM EDT - 11:00 AM EDT


Event Description:

Conversations about equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace are more crucial now than ever before. How might we truly challenge the system and create more employment opportunities for marginalized communities? In this podcast, the Social Ventures Zone speaks with Melanie Cote, Founder of Do Good Donuts, and Golnaz Golnaraghi, Founder of Accelerate Her Future. Both of these social entrepreneurs are actively exploring how to foster equity in the workplace: Do Good Donuts trains youth with intellectual disabilities for food service jobs, while Accelerate Her Future provides programming for Black, Indigenous and women of colour to advance their careers and connect meaningfully with mentors and a peer community. Our conversation will delve into the social issues that these founders are addressing, cover the highs and lows of launching their ventures, and the visions they have for empowering marginalized communities.  Organized by the Social Ventures Zone.

The podcast launch will be followed with a live Q&A discussion later in the week at the SVZ’s weekly #CaffeinatedInnovators, external link session.

Speaker Bios:

Brigid Savage

Brigid Savage is the Marketing & Communications coordinator at the SVZ. She graduated from Ryerson University in 2020 with a Master’s in Communications & Culture. Brigid is passionate about social justice, particularly issues around food security. In 2016, Brigid founded Wishbones Magazine, an online food magazine that seeks to provide readers with diverse, accessible recipes and inspiration.

Alex Gill

Alex Gill is the co-founder and Director of the Social Ventures Zone, Ryerson University’’s social business incubator that is currently home to more than 40 startups.  Alex is a social entrepreneur who has co-founded or worked on six social startups or scale-ups and he currently leads Mendicant Group, a consultancy that has worked on social issues in 17 different countries.  Alex is a global advocate for social and entrepreneurial issues, having moderated the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance since 2010.  In 2015 THIS Magazine named him as one of Canada’s “Social Justice All-Stars.”   Follow Alex on Twitter at @alexgill for a mix of all things social and entrepreneurial, along with the occasional pun.

Annemarie Cutruzzola

Annemarie Cutruzzola is a fourth-year student in the Journalism program and the Editor-in-Chief of CanCulture Magazine, a digital campus publication reporting on arts and culture in Canada. She was formerly the Marketing & Communications Assistant at the Social Ventures Zone. She’s a writer at heart with a passion for telling stories that amplify diverse voices and highlight the vibrance of arts, culture and life in Canada.

Dr. Golnaz Golnaraghi

Dr. Golnaz Golnaraghi is an award-winning Leadership and Equity and Inclusion expert, social entrepreneur, TEDx speaker and author. She is the Founder of Accelerate Her FutureTM, one of the leading career accelerators in Canada dedicated to advancing Black, Indigenous, and self-identifying women of colour pursuing early-careers in business and tech. She holds an MBA from the University of British Columbia Sauder School of Business and a Doctor of Business Administration from Athabasca University. Her areas of research interest include racialized and intersectional identities in the workplace, women of colour in leadership, Muslim women’s identity construction in North America, transformative learning, among others. Golnaz has presented her research at international conferences and published in peer-review journals and books including the International Journal of Cross-Cultural Management, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal and The Oxford Handbook of Diversity in Organizations. Her commentary has been featured in CTV News, Liisbeth Media, and Women of Influence. Golnaz was recently recognized as a top 50 Report on Business 2021 Changemakers.

Melanie Cote 

Melanie Cote is a communications professional, storyteller, social entrepreneur and advocate who works tirelessly championing inclusion for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Melanie has two children. Her youngest, Alma, was born with a rare genetic syndrome. Alma was diagnosed with Williams syndrome at just five months old, and at that time, the picture the doctors painted for her future was bleak – with little chance of employment or independent living.  Melanie founded Do Good Donuts in 2018 to help young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities gain meaningful work in their communities. Melanie lives with her husband Chris and their children in Toronto. She loves to bake, explore new places and throw a frisbee around. She believes, above all else, that inclusion matters.

Get involved / More Information:

  • Accelerate Her Future is a career accelerator providing tailored programs for self-identifying Black, Indigenous and women of colour (BIWOC) to launch their careers in business and STEM while building networks of solidarity and action: 
  • Do Good Donuts, external link is the social enterprise that bakes futures. Our donut shop hires and trains young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, then helps them transition to work in the community.
  • Social Ventures Zone