Nosa Atoe: An industry recruiter who wants to tackle systemic racism

—It is Black History Month, and every day this month, The Message will be sharing short profiles of Black professionals from across the industry: marketing, advertising, PR, media and production. Written by POCAM members, the profiles are a way to “fight invisibility,” an exercise in representation for an industry where representation must get better—

As a junior recruiter, early talent and partnerships at Salt XC, Nosa Atoe has been instrumental in launching the agency’s first-ever internship program, attracting a diverse range of talent with various backgrounds, experiences, and levels of education.

“We received over 500 applications and hired 21 interns across six departments in just two weeks,” she said. “I managed a four-month internship, with weekly mentorship sessions that focused on career development and DEI.”

With a postgraduate degree in sports and event marketing from George Brown College, Atoe credits her success to the faculty’s mentorship and support, as well as the support of BIPOC mentors throughout her career. She expresses gratitude for the leaders who have supported her, including Marsha Gaye-Knight, Chloe McKenzie, and Suzanne Duncan. Atoe was nominated for this Black History Month series by Kanna Anigbogu, who was profiled in the first BHM series in 2019.

Atoe pivoted from healthcare to marketing during the pandemic, seizing every opportunity to learn about the industry and nurturing client relationships skills transferrable to recruitment. “Recruitment has continued to challenge me to change the way I think and seek different perspectives,” she says. “This experience has also allowed me to continuously seek ways to amplify the voices of those in my community, and encourages me to never stop holding space for diversity.”

Atoe is passionate about making the recruitment industry more inclusive, and tackling issues like systemic racism. She believes that acknowledging the existence of these problems is the first step toward solving them. “Understanding that accessibility is and has been the biggest challenge for POC helps understand the narrative,” she says.

She emphasizes the importance of education and continuous learning, as well as the need for employers to be aware of the challenges faced by candidates from diverse backgrounds, and do their part to make the recruitment process accessible. “Once organizations start making this the standard, it will allow for everyone involved to be held accountable.”

Passionate about making a difference by increasing accessibility in recruitment, Atoe considers herself fortunate to collaborate with diverse talent partners (such as Black Sport Business, Black Talent Initiative, and the Canadian Black Standard), and feeder schools.

“I consider myself an IDEA professional,” she said. “The acronym I-D-E-A, standing for inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility is the value that I want to bring into every environment that I am in.”

To aspiring Black talent who want to enter the industry, Atoe advises against self-doubt, and encourages them to embrace discomfort and take risks. “Introduce yourself in every room you walk into, and never stop networking.”

This POCAM BHM 2023 profile was written by Erik dela Cruz, a freelance creative director, and a member of the POCAM steering committee.