8 in 10 Black Canadians say they still face discrimination at work: report

While Canadian companies have made some progress in making the workplace more diverse and inclusive, eight in 10 Black Canadians say they still face some form of discrimination at work, a new report by KPMG has found.

The accounting firm’s survey, released for Black History Month, said 81 per cent respondents experienced some form of racism or microaggression in the workplace over the past year.

“In our third survey in as many years, Black Canadians feel that Corporate Canada is making headway in meeting their 2020 commitments to end anti-Black racism, create more inclusive workplace environments and promote more Black people to leadership roles,” says Elio Luongo, CEO and senior partner, KPMG in Canada.

“However, despite these efforts, more than 80 per cent of Black Canadians faced racism in the workplace last year, nearly a 10 per cent increase from what we found a year ago.”

More than half of the respondents (53 per cent) said they faced less racism than they did in previous years, while 15 per cent said they faced the same amount of racism or microaggression and 13 per cent said they faced more racism.

Rob Davis, KPMG Canada’s chief inclusion, diversity and equity officer, said Canadian companies should not take any progress for granted.

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“My advice to companies is double down, take a hard look at your governance structure, your policies, your talent hiring. A really critical part of it is retention,” he said.

While 83 per cent felt valued and respected in the same way as their non-Black colleagues, an increase of five per cent compared to last year, 78 per cent feel they have to work harder than their non-Black colleagues to be valued and recognized in the same way. This varies by profession but is more acute in engineering (93 per cent), financial services (91 per cent), and architecture and urban planning (86 per cent) than technology (60 per cent).

Davis said he could relate to some of these experiences.

“I speak for so many Black immigrants, growing up, it was sort of drilled into me from my parents that to be successful, I needed to be better than my than my white counterparts.”

Most respondents felt that Black employees felt the brunt of economic hardships the hardest, with 79 per cent saying that Black or racialized people were among the first to lose their jobs over the past year.

But the report also highlighted some silver linings. It said 83 per cent of Black Canadians say their employer has made progress on their promises to be more equitable and inclusive for Black employees over the last year.

Since the global movement to end anti-Black racism, following the murder of American George Floyd Jr. at the hands of police officers in 2020, 82 per cent feel their company has made “significant progress” in creating a more equitable and inclusive workplace for Black employees.

Three out of four respondents (75 per cent) said their non-Black colleagues’ understanding of barriers faced by Black Canadians has improved over the last year. However, 71 per cent said they feel racism in society has increased in the last year.

Some of the statistics from the report highlight managerial attitudes towards anti-Black racism, as 82 per cent feel they can bring incidents of anti-Black racism to company leaders without being stigmatized.

Last year, 68 per cent respondents said they felt their prospects for career advancement improved significantly over the course of the year. This year, that figure was up to 76 per cent. The percentage of respondents who said their prospects for a promotion have improved increased to 74 per cent this year from 58 per cent last year.

With reports from Global News’ Anne Gaviola

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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