Job-seeking Black Canadians not faring well since summer of 2020

Canadian organizations more aware of racism in society and in their own organizations but more work required to understand and address underlying issues

Elio Luongo, CEO of KPMG

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.

In a recent national survey of Black Canadians, more than three-quarters of the respondents who are unemployed said their employment prospects have not improved in the last year and a half, with one in seven (14 per cent) saying the situation has worsened.

The experience of unemployed Black Canadians contrasts with those already in the workforce. KPMG’s survey revealed that 54 per cent of those employed had seen their advancement prospects improve in the past year and a half, with one in five saying they were offered a job they wouldn’t have 18 months ago.

“In the summer of 2020, we heard and saw a myriad of organizations state their commitment to the Black community,” says Tamika Mitchell, an auditor and Co-Chair, Black Professionals Network at KPMG in Canada. “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.

“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. Different perspectives are needed to stay competitive. Diversity of thought from people of different backgrounds brings agility to a corporation that can’t be found in a homogenous environment,”

Tarisai Madamb

adds Ms. Mitchell.

The survey finds: 77 per cent of unemployed Black Canadians say prospects not good; 52 per cent say nothing has changed; 4 per cent say their prospects for getting a job have worsened

Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of Black Canadians say they have experienced some form of microaggression or act of racism in society over the last 18 months. More than a quarter (27 per cent) say that the number of attacks have declined during the period with 15 per cent saying they’ve increased. 35 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, with 24 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.

“Allyship is one of the most important and effective ways to reduce racial barriers for Black Canadians,” says Elio Luongo, CEO of KPMG in Canada. “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.

“Dismantling anti-Black racism in the workplace happens when all employees in an organization recognize and acknowledge the historical disadvantages that have existed for Black Canadians, and take steps to actively support and defend the interests of their Black colleagues and friends.”

“Many companies have taken that first step and have an increased awareness about anti-Black racism and other forms of racism in society and in their own organizations,” says Tarisai Madambi, a management consultant and Co-Chair, Black Professionals Network at KPMG in Canada. “But what we need is a better understanding of the issues underpinning inequity, because for many, there is still a lack of understanding about the underlying issues, and that’s where the hard work needs to be done. We’re not going to make real sustainable change until we all know why inequity exists and why it’s still being reinforced.”