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," adds Ms. Mitchell.

Key poll findings

  • 77 per cent of unemployed Black Canadians say their prospects for getting a job have not improved in the last 18 months
    • 52 per cent say nothing has changed
    • 14 per cent say their prospects for getting a job have worsened
    • 11 per cent say they are getting called back for jobs and interviewed more frequently, but think it's for show and not genuine
    • 23 per cent say their prospects are better
  • 54 per cent of employed Black Canadians say their prospects for getting a job have improved in the last 18 months
    • 19 per cent said they got a job they previously would have been overlooked for
    • 35 per cent said their prospects for promotion and advancement have improved

Acts of racism on the decline but still prevalent

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.

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 in 10 (79 per cent) said they have allies outside work and more than seven in 10 (72 per cent) have allies at work.

"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."

KPMG's poll found that nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of respondents are optimistic that their organization will be able to reduce systemic barriers for Black employees in the next five years. They think it will take longer for progress across all organizations with 67 per cent saying they are optimistic Corporate Canada will be able to drive change in the next five years.

"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."

KPMG conducted a poll of 1,006 Black Canadian adults from Dec. 27 to Jan. 7, 2022 using Schlesinger Group's AskingCanadians panel through its Methodify online research platform. Sixty-three per cent of respondents were employed full-time, 13 per cent part-time, seven per cent were self-employed, 11 per cent were unemployed and six per cent were students. A supplementary release on the experiences of Black Canadians in the workplace can be found here.

About KPMG in Canada

KPMG LLP, a limited liability partnership, is a full-service Audit, Tax and Advisory firm owned and operated by Canadians. For over 150 years, our professionals have provided consulting, accounting, auditing, and tax services to Canadians, inspiring confidence, empowering change, and driving innovation. Guided by our core values of Integrity, Excellence, Courage, Together, For Better, KPMG employs nearly 8,000 people in over 40 locations across Canada, serving private- and public-sector clients. KPMG is consistently ranked one of Canada's top employers and one of the best places to work in the country.

The firm is established under the laws of Ontario and is a member of KPMG's global organization of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International, a private English company limited by guarantee. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such. For more information, see home.kpmg/ca.

For media inquiries:

Roula Meditskos
National Communications & Media Relations
KPMG in Canada
(416) 549-7982