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Black Canadian job prospects have remained stagnant since summer of 2020

Canadian organizations more aware of racism in society and in their own organizations but 77 per cent of unemployed Black Canadians say their prospects for getting a job have not improved in the last 18 months

Although the last couple of years have seen a momentous wave in corporations promoting and building diversity programs. Black Canadians who are unemployed said their employment prospects have not improved, despite this trend.

One in seven (14 per cent) saying the situation has worsened. The experience of unemployed Black Canadians contrasts with those already in the workforce. While the majority of employed Black Canadians believe their career prospects have improved in the last 18 months, less than a quarter of those out of work feel the same, finds new research from KPMG in Canada.

Canadian companies making progress on inclusion for Black employees

KPMG’s survey revealed that 54 per cent of those employed had seen their advancement prospects improve in the past year and a half. One in five saying they were offered a job they wouldn’t have 18 months ago.

When asked about potential solutions to further reduce anti-Black racism in the workplace, 84 per cent of respondents said they wanted their employers to make stronger commitments and establish targets for hiring and promoting more Black Canadians, with clear and measurable outcomes and accountability mechanisms. Other actions include:

  • Appoint more Black Canadians to the board of directors and/or senior management ranks (84 per cent)
  • More anti-racism education and training for employees and management (83 per cent)
  • Senior leadership teams need to “walk the walk” (82 per cent)
  • Make reducing anti-Black racism a bigger human resources priority (81 per cent)
  • A major culture change (74 per cent)
  • Replace senior leadership teams (54 per cent) 

“In the summer of 2020, we heard and saw a myriad of organizations state their commitment to the Black community. While we are seeing progress for those in the workforce, the results of our survey suggest that for the unemployed, systemic barriers have not been dismantled and the needle has not moved in a meaningful way.”

Tamika Mitchell, Co-Chair, Black Professionals Network at KPMG in Canada

Corporations are increasingly interacting with a more diverse market, and they need to be open to new ways of thinking when it comes to recruiting and promoting talent. Corporation require different perspectives to stay competitive. The company’s findings maintain that diversity of thought from people of different backgrounds brings agility to a corporation.

Acts of Racism on the decline but still prevalent in Canadian workplace

The survey went on to find that nearly two-thirds of Black Canadians have experienced some form of microaggression or act of racism in the last year and a half. More than a quarter say that the number of attacks have declined during the period with 15 per cent saying they’ve increased. Thirty-five per cent said they have not encountered any microaggressions.

The poll results show that microaggressions or acts of racism were less prevalent in the workplace. Fifty-five per cent of Black Canadians say they have been the victim of these. Twenty Four per cent saying they saw fewer, and 44 per cent saying they experienced none. Fourteen per cent saying they increased in the last year and a half.

While many Black Canadians continue to face racism at work and in society, the poll found that most have strong allies who will speak up for them and other Black Canadians. Nearly eight out of ten said they have allies outside work and more than seven in 10 have allies at work.

“Allyship is one of the most important and effective ways to reduce racial barriers for Black Canadians. In order to make real and substantial change, Canadians need to work together to help break down the walls that impede the careers of many Black Canadians. This isn’t up to the Black community to figure out – this is for all Canadians to figure out.” 

Elio Luongo, CEO of KPMG in Canada


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