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About
JennAir
Disrupting
Design

JennAir Disrupting Design was built not only to challenge the status quo in Canada’s interior design industry but create solutions that make real progress.

The Disrupting Design mission is to take on the structural barriers that Black, Indigenous and people of colour face when studying and working in the design sector – because meaningful inclusion drives stronger, more diverse design work. 

Our programs create greater access to design education through scholarships, and foster connections among established and emerging designers through mentorship.

JennAir Disrupting Design is the result of research, listening and community input. We’re committed to continuously understanding the gaps in the interior design sector and taking action to bridge them.

Our Advisory Board

Disrupting Design is guided by the expertise of an Advisory Board, a committee with a wealth of expertise in the design sector and the diversity, equity and inclusion space in Canada. Made up of industry leaders reflective of Canada’s diversity, the Advisory Board provides guidance and recommendations on the JennAir Disrupting Design program’s implementation, to ultimately move the needle for diverse designers in Canada.

FREQUENTLY
ASKED
QUESTIONS

The past few years have sparked significant cultural change and required everyone, including industries, to reflect and seek ways to contribute to positive change and create a more inclusive and equitable Canada. As part of the design sector, JennAir has spent time listening and learning about the inequality of opportunity in our industry and is committed to playing our part to have an impact. There is currently no published data on the number of racialized designers in Canada but Toronto Metropolitan University, a leading educational institution in interior design, reports significant under-representation. In 2019, the University published the 2019 Student Diversity Self-ID Report to set a baseline for representation of students from equity groups (women, racialized people, Aborigional Peoples, persons with disabilities and 2SLGBTQ+ people) as well from the three largest racialized groups (South Asian, Chinese and Black). The data showed the School of Interior Design was experiencing low representation of Indigenous, Black and South Asian students. In addition, we know that in Canada, across all programs, there is a significant gap in graduation and employment rates between racialized and non-racialized youth in the sector. These factors have led us to invest in the development of the JennAir Disrupting Design program.

Through this program, our mission is to break the structural barriers for Black, Indigenous and people of colour to have better access to study and work in the design sector. We believe that better representation of racialized Canadians in interior design will drive stronger, more diverse design work.

The JennAir Disrupting Design program is aimed at creating access and opportunities for racialized designers in the industry. As a first step we have formed a partnership with The Creative School at Toronto Metropolitan University to create the JennAir Scholars Award - a $375,000 scholarship over five years to support Black, Indigenous and students of colour in the Bachelor of Interior Design program and planned Masters program. In addition, we have worked with TMU to create a paid internship program for design students offering real world experience to help build their resumes. Finally, for racialized design graduates at TMU, we have created a sponsorship program matching graduates with successful working interior designers. In addition to our work with TMU, JennAir commits to collaborating with three racialized designers each year for kitchen renovations. The designer's work would be featured on the JennAir website and social channels.

Over a year ago, JennAir conducted in-depth interviews with racialized designers in Canada to understand the barriers to better representation in the industry. To ensure the Program’s direction continues to be guided by those with lived experience, JennAir has established a Disrupting Design Advisory Board consisting of Black, Indigenous and industry leaders of colour. This board will guide the JennAir Disrupting Design program’s focus over the short and long term.

The JennAir Disrupting Design program is rooted in our brand history and its value of progress: born to lead, never to follow. We firmly believe that a more diverse industry will drive more progressive designs. Ultimately, we stand for progress and believe in investing in inclusion and diversity (I&D) initiatives to fuel change. At the same time, and as we have heard from design partners and industry leaders, fueling progress is also about taking stock of our internal I&D commitments. To this end, Whirlpool Canada, which markets the JennAir brand, has developed the Stronger Together team. This team of employees, supported by executive sponsors, are focussed on creating a culture where everyone feels comfortable and safe bringing their full self to work. 

After forming in 2020, the Stronger Together committee invited employee input to inform areas of focus. Three work streams were created to foster a culture consistent with Whirlpool Corporation’s values of I&D within all levels of the organization: Celebrating Diversity, Understanding Microaggressions and Diversity Through Recruitment. Since the creation of the Stronger Together committee, Whirlpool Corporation has seen an improvement in the employee experience among equity-deserving groups. 

Whirlpool Canada’s parent company, Whirlpool Corporation has deep rooted values of integrity and respect that drive our commitment to employees and to the communities in which we operate. We strive to provide a collaborative, safe and welcoming environment to ensure that Whirlpool Corp. is the best place to work and a place where our employees truly feel welcomed, valued, heard and respected. Additionally, we are dedicated to improving the quality of life for all who reside in the communities in which we operate. You can read more about Whirlpool Corporation’s ESG efforts in our 2021 ESG/Sustainability Report linked here.

As a brand that pushes the boundaries of progress, JennAir has taken time to listen, reflect and do our own work in order to launch an impactful, sustainable and authentic strategy for Disrupting Design. We recognize that driving change requires time, learning, resources and financial support from businesses across our industry. We are taking steps to do our part, which is why we are proud to say that the JennAir Scholars Award is the largest scholarship with mentorship and job placement programs for racialized youth entering the design sector in Canada. We also realize that there is still a lot to learn. Part of why the JennAir Disrupting Design program is being launched is to further understand the gaps in the sector and what can be done to bridge them. We are committed to leading this program and doing it in a participatory way with the collaboration of Toronto Metropolitan University and the guidance of the Advisory Board. We are dedicated to listening to the designers most affected by underrepresentation - Black, Indigenous and designers of colour—and are creating platforms to bring their voices to the forefront.

Natalie Ramtahal

Natalie Ramtahal

Natalie is the Manager of Administration and Equity in the School of Interior Design and a Ph.D. student in the joint Communication and Culture program at York/TMU. Natalie has worked in post-secondary education, research, policy, and equity and community inclusion (ECI) for over fifteen years. She is deeply committed to ECI and has worked to advance equity and diversity through her professional and volunteer work. Her own research looks at the potential of cryptocurrency as a form of wealth generation and remittance to the global south, specifically Jamaica and the Philippines.​

Yasmien Fadl

Yasmien Fadl

Originally from Sudan, Yasmien grew up in the UAE & Canada. 

She is a creative strategist with 19 years of multi-disciplinary interior design, thought leadership, workplace strategy, change management and project delivery experience on the consulting and client side. She has worked overseas and in Canada in multiple design sectors (mainly retail, hospitality and workplace), and is currently the Head of Workplace Design, Experience & Change Management for TD Enterprise Real Estate. 

Her core focus is crafting people-centric workplace experiences that are resonant, inclusive, responsive and meaningful: “The workplace experience should be the product of thoughtful, proactive decisioning that meets the moment – Diversity is our collective strength, and our workspaces, policies and leadership should reflect that.

Golnar Raissi

Golnar Raissi

Golnar Raissi is a senior interior designer and team lead at Mayhew Inc. 

As a registered member of the Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO), Golnar has previously served as a director on the board of management. She is currently a committee member for the Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Advancement committee at ARIDO.

She continues her academic contribution to interior design studies as a director on Humber College’s advisory board for the Bachelor of Interior Design program.

Ian Rolston

Ian Rolston

Ian Rolston is a creative soul, inspired by connecting humanity to what matters most. After working for the world’s top brands and companies in Architecture and Design, he founded Decanthropy, an innovation consultancy, designing strategic interventions for executive teams committed to equitable futures in private and public sectors. Decanthropy makes systems, strategies, and spaces more human, to optimize unrealized value for clients. As a thought leader, design strategist, and speaker, Rolston encourages relying on one’s sense of humanity to impact change in everyday moments. Rolston’s insights and expertise leverage cross-discipline knowledge to imagine scalable possibilities for a better today and tomorrow.

Antoinette Armenio

Antoinette Armenio

Antoinette Armenio is the Director, Human Resources at Whirlpool Canada and has been with the company for 20 years. In addition to leading the Human Resources function in Canada, Antoinette has been volunteering as a Senior Leader representative on the Stronger Together team for the last 3 years, a team that focuses on fostering and celebrating diversity, equity, and inclusion; and had previously co-led the Inclusion & Diversity Council representing North America on the Global I&D team for Whirlpool. Antoinette is a co-facilitator of the Unconscious Bias & Empathy training at Whirlpool and has facilitated multiple training sessions for Whirlpool’s People Leaders. She also performs Insights Discovery Training as it relates to individual preferences and diverse styles in communication resulting in greater team effectiveness. 

“I firmly believe that we are stronger together and continuously strive to create a workplace where everyone can bring their best self to work and feel welcomed, respected, valued and heard.”

Emrul Hasan

Emrul Hasan

Emrul Hasan is a highly experienced and sought-after transformational leader experienced in executive leadership and management, focusing on strategic planning, development, and execution of international humanitarian and development, ESG, CSR and DE+I initiatives. He is a certified sustainability professional with extensive knowledge of ESG reporting standards and frameworks. Emrul has worked with a variety of organizations across different sectors, including finance, retail, and extractive industries globally, helping them with sustainability, ESG, and DE+I strategy, reputational and regulatory risk management, social impact measurement, and net-zero pathway strategy. He has also worked with various governments and development organizations in 27 countries, designing, implementing and evaluating high-impact social and economic development programs.

Currently, Emrul is the Vice President of Global Programs at CARE Canada. Before this, he held various senior leadership positions, including Vice President of Citizenship + Sustainability at Hill+Knowlton's Corporate Advisory arm and Vice President of Program Effectiveness and Quality at Plan Canada. Emrul has also worked at Plan International Bangladesh, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and UNDP-UNCDF. He was a member and Co-chair of the CSO Partnership Advisory Group (CPAG), which advised Global Affairs Canada on implementing CSO's partnership policy. Emrul also served as the Executive Lead for the DE+I effort at Plan Canada and was a member of the Anti-racism and Equity Council of Plan International. He is also an Advisory Board Member of the JennAir Disrupting Design Initiative of Whirlpool Canada. 

Emrul is recognized as a thought leader in International Development, ESG, CSR, and DE+I, and his expertise is frequently sought by media, governments, and international agencies. He has been invited to speak at over 25 high-profile conferences, including the United Nations General Assembly, Intersessional UN Expert meetings and the Senate of Canada at the Standing Senate Committee hearing on Human Rights. 

Brian Porter

Brian Porter

Brian hails from Six Nations of the Grand River. He is the principal architect of Two Row Architect, a 100% native-owned business established in 1992.

He has been a business leader for many years, designing and overseeing the construction of projects for Indigenous communities across Canada and the United States. He has demonstrated success in designing culturally appropriate projects for these communities and has worked to maximize the participation of Indigenous skills and trades.

Two Row Architect promotes Indigenous values in design by imbedding traditional knowledge into buildings using current building technology while actively promoting the creative and environmentally conscious use of building materials.

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