Black Canadians

Despite progress, workplace still not equal for Black Canadians

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

An estimated 53 per cent of Black Canadians said they experienced fewer instances of racism or microaggression in the workplace over the past year, yet 81 per cent were still victims of it in the last 12 months, a 10 per cent increase from 2022.

New research by KPMG in Canada, which surveyed 1,000 Canadians who self-identified as Black, found that companies have continued to make progress over the past year to create a more equitable and inclusive workplace for their Black employees. Three-quarters of Black Canadians say their co-workers’ understanding improved over the past year (up 13 per cent); 76 per cent said their manager or supervisor’s understanding improved (up 15 per cent) and 74 per cent of top management’s understanding improved (up 16 per cent).

There are also various discrepancies. Although the majority said they feel just as valued and respected as their non-Black colleagues, 78 per cent said they also have to work much harder to be recognized. This feeling has increased by eight per cent over last year.

Most Black Canadians are seeing their companies build a pipeline of Black talent with the goal of promoting them into the C-Suite. Compared to four years ago, more than three-quarters say their company now has a Black person in the C-suite or on the board of directors. Yet economic challenges have led to restructuring operations with delayed potential promotions. Eight in 10 Black Canadians also believe that Black or racialized people were among the first to lose their jobs since 2022.

In December 2023, Statistics Canada reported that the jobless rate rose 1.6 percentage points to 8.5 per cent for Black Canadians aged 25 to 54. Canada’s overall unemployment rate for the same age cohort was 4.8 per cent in December, up from 4.2 per cent a year earlier.

“Among the first steps towards change in the workplace are awareness and understanding of racial privilege across social, political, economic, and cultural environments,” explained Rob Davis, KPMG’s chief inclusion, diversity and equity officer. “The commitment organizations have made to address this within their workplaces is making a difference but unfortunately, progress is uneven.

“Employers need to keep in mind that their Black employees might be facing increased acts of aggression in their personal lives but also at work from customers, suppliers, and contractors. This makes it even more important that companies continue to stand fast on their commitments to combat racism within their organizations. It is critical they create inclusive and safe environments for all their people.”

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