Progress and challenges for Black Canadians at work

Survey reveals strides in inclusivity, yet racism persists

Progress and challenges for Black Canadians at work

In a recent survey conducted by KPMG in Canada, there is a growing sense among Black Canadians that their employers are taking significant steps towards eradicating anti-Black racism in the workplace.  

This survey, aligned with Black History Month observations, highlights a proactive stance from Canadian companies over the past year towards fostering a more equitable and inclusive environment for Black employees.  

Despite these efforts, a stark reality persists, with eight out of ten Black Canadians reporting experiences of racism or microaggressions at work. 

  Elio Luongo, CEO and senior partner at KPMG in Canada, remarked on the survey's findings, noting the progress Corporate Canada has made since their 2020 commitments to combat anti-Black racism and promote inclusivity and diversity within leadership roles.  

Nevertheless, the survey reveals that over 80 percent of Black Canadians encountered racism in their workplaces last year, marking an alarming near 10 percent increase from the previous year's findings.   

The survey also sheds light on a troubling rise in hate crimes across Canada, with police-reported incidents jumping by 83 percent from 2019 to 2022, as per Statistics Canada. This includes a significant increase in race-related hate crimes, further complicating the landscape for Black Canadians both in and out of the workplace. 

Key findings from the KPMG poll underscore the mixed reality Black Canadians face at work. While 83 percent acknowledge their employer's efforts towards more equitable and inclusive practices, and 82 percent see "significant progress" in the aftermath of George Floyd Jr.'s murder and the global Black Lives Matter protests, a majority still experience racism or microaggressions. 

Interestingly, the survey also points to visible efforts within companies to cultivate Black talent for leadership roles, with a notable percentage of respondents affirming the presence of Black individuals in C-suite or board positions.   

The poll highlights a growing understanding and respect for Black Canadians in the workplace, with improvements in co-workers', managers', and top management's comprehension of the barriers Black Canadians face.  

This has translated into an increased sense of value and respect among Black employees, though many still feel the need to outperform their non-Black colleagues for recognition.   

Rob Davis, KPMG's Chief Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Officer, emphasizes the importance of continued commitment from organizations to combat racism and create inclusive environments. He points out the necessity for employers to be mindful of the additional challenges Black employees might encounter, including aggression from external parties. 

  The survey also touches on the broader societal context, noting an increase in perceived racism and economic pressures that have impacted job prospects and career advancement for Black Canadians.  

Despite these challenges, there's a positive outlook on career advancement opportunities, although many Black Canadians feel these prospects have been affected by economic downturn preparations.   

Conducted between December 19, 2023, and January 13, 2024, the KPMG poll surveyed 1,000 Black Canadian employees, providing insights with a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.