Most Black Canadians think their employers are working to address systemic racism

Poll finds most Black Canadians feel valued and respected in the same way as their non-Black colleagues, but that they have to work harder to earn it

Rob Davis

New research by KPMG in Canada finds that nearly seven out of 10 (68 per cent) Black Canadians say their employers have made progress on following through on their promises to be more equitable and inclusive for Black employees, and their managers and senior leaders have a better understanding of the systemic barriers Black Canadians face.

But barely half have seen these efforts translate into better job opportunities. Roughly one-third (35 per cent) believe their prospects for advancement have improved with a breaking down of systemic barriers and 19 per cent feel they were offered a job they wouldn’t have a year and a half ago. However, nearly four in 10 say nothing much has changed, and systemic barriers continue to hold back progress. Nearly one in 10 say things have become worse.

The findings come from a survey KPMG conducted in early January of more than 1,000 Black Canadians. The survey sought to find out whether the promises made by Canadian employers to address systemic racism in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement were making a difference.

Poll Highlights:

– 68 per cent say their employer has made good (36 per cent) or some (32 per cent) progress on following through on its promises to be more inclusive and equitable for Black employees

-12 per cent say their company’s promises to be more inclusive are simply lip service and 20 per cent say their companies have taken no action

– 67 per cent believe their employers are making genuine efforts to hire more Black Canadians

Alison Rose

– 58 per cent say they are making genuine efforts to promote more Black Canadians into leadership roles

-19 per cent say they got a job they previously would have been overlooked for

  – 35 per cent say their prospects for promotion and advancement have improved

“These results show that many Canadian organizations have made real and sustained efforts to tackle racial bias in their organizations,” says Jamaica born Rob Davis, Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer and Chair of the Board of Directors of KPMG in Canada. “Black Canadians told us they are seeing progress in the hiring and promotion of employees, in the opportunities for Black-owned business and in the treatment of Black customers.

Nearly three quarters (74 per cent) of Black Canadians say they feel valued and respected in the same way as their non-Black colleagues, but nearly an equal proportion of respondents (70 per cent) feel they have to work harder than their non-Black peers in order to earn that same respect.

More than four in 10 (44 per cent) Black Canadians say they have not experienced any microaggressions or acts of racism at work over the last 18 months with nearly one-quarter (24 per cent) saying they have experienced fewer of these over the same period. However, nearly a third have continued to experience microaggressions and racism at work, including 14 per cent who say it has actually increased.

“While overall, Black Canadians are facing less racism at work, it is still an ugly reality for many,” adds Mr. Davis. “Many are concerned that the downturn was driven less by changing perceptions and understanding and more by the fact that many Canadians have been working virtually during the last 18 months. They are worried about what will happen when they return to the office.”

“It is significant to see that Canadian organizations have made efforts to improve their overall relationship with Black Canadians,” says Alison Rose, Partner, Life & Pensions Actuarial Practice, KPMG in Canada. “What’s interesting is that while approximately two-thirds of respondents noted that their employers have improved their product offerings and customer service for Black customers, the same proportion of respondents indicate that their employer’s products and services do not always capture or reflect the Black consumer market. The takeaway is that while companies are making efforts to improve the Black customer experience, there is still much work to do.”