As Canadians mark Black History Month, new research by KPMG in Canada finds that Canadian companies have continued to make progress over the past year to create a more equitable and inclusive workplace for their Black employees. Yet, eight in 10 Black Canadians say they are still facing some form of racism or microaggression at work.

“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.”

Police-reported hate crimes in Canada have jumped 83 per cent between 2019 and 2022, according to the last year of data from Statistics Canada. The same report revealed that race-related hate crimes increased as much as 120 per cent over that same time frame. Toronto police recently reported that hate crimes in the city rose by 42 per cent in 2023 with a major spike in antisemitic and anti-Islam crimes in the last three months.

“While business leaders can take some comfort in the fact that Black Canadians feel the workplace has become more equitable over the last few years, the reality is, racism and hate crime are on the rise in Canada,” says Mr. Luongo. “As business leaders, we must continue our efforts to build equitable and inclusive workplaces where all our people feel welcomed and safe, and stand up against hate in our communities as well.”

Key poll findings

  • 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
  • 82 per cent agree that their company has made “significant progress” in creating a more equitable and inclusive workplace for Black employees in the almost-four years since African American George Floyd Jr.’s murder and the global Black Lives Matter protests
  • 81 per cent experienced some form of racism or microaggression in the workplace over the past year
    • 13 per cent experienced more
    • 53 per cent experienced less 
    • 15 per cent experienced the same amount
  • 83 per cent also see visible progress being made within their company to build a pipeline of Black talent with the goal of promoting them into the C-Suite
  • Compared to four years ago, over three-quarters (76 per cent) say their company now has a Black person in the C-suite or on the Board of Directors

Workplace: Feeling respected and valued

The poll findings show a significant increase across Canadian workplaces in understanding the societal and workplace barriers faced by Black Canadians. Three-quarters of Black Canadians (75 per cent) say their co-workers’ understanding improved over the past year (up 13 per cent); 76 per cent said their manager or supervisor’s understanding improved (up 15 per cent) and 74 per cent of top management’s understanding improved (up 16 per cent).

Accordingly, 83 per cent of Black Canadians feel valued and respected in the same way as their non-Black colleagues, an increase of five per cent over last year and nine per cent since 2022. But 78 per cent said they also have to work much harder than their non-Black colleagues to be recognized, an increase of eight per cent over last year.  

And while 53 per cent of Black Canadians said they experienced fewer instances of racism or microaggression in the workplace over the past year, 81 per cent were still victims of it in the last 12 months, up from 72 per cent in 2022.

“Among the first steps towards change in the workplace are awareness and understanding of racial privilege across social, political, economic, and cultural environments,” says Rob Davis, KPMG’s Chief Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Officer. “The commitment organizations have made to address this within their workplaces is making a difference but unfortunately, progress is uneven.

“Employers need to keep in mind that their Black employees might be facing increased acts of aggression in their personal lives but also at work from customers, suppliers, and contractors. This makes it even more important that companies continue to stand fast on their commitments to combat racism within their organizations. It is critical they create inclusive and safe environments for all their people,” he says.

Additional poll highlights

  • 75 per cent say their co-workers’ understanding of societal and workplace barriers faced by Black Canadians improved over the past year; 76 per cent of their manager or supervisor’s understanding improved and 74 per cent of top management’s understanding improved
    • This jumps to 88 per cent for respondents working at financial services companies about their co-workers’ and manager’s understanding and 83 per cent for top management and drops to 60 per cent and 65 per cent of respondents employed at law firms about their co-workers and managers, respectively
  • 83 per cent say they are valued and respected in the same way as their non-Black colleagues
  • 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).
  • 71 per cent feel that racism in society has increased in the last year
  • 82 per cent feel they can bring incidents of anti-Black racism to company leaders without being stigmatized

Economy dampens job prospects

The progress organizations are making has most Black Canadians feeling positive about their career advancement and promotion prospects. However, the decisions their employers made over the past year to restructure their operations and reduce headcount dampened and delayed potential promotions. As many as 73 per cent of Black Canadians say their career progress and/or promotion prospects didn’t materialize or were derailed because their company was preparing for a possible recession or slower growth.

Eight in 10 Black Canadians also believe that Black or racialized people were among the first to lose their jobs over the past year, reflecting the ‘last in, first out’ approach that many companies take to layoffs.

Their perception is backed up by Statistics Canada’s recent unemployment statistics. The jobless rate rose 1.6 percentage points to 8.5 per cent for Black Canadians aged 25 to 54 in 2023, Statistics Canada reported in its December 2023 Labour Force Survey. By contrast, Canada’s overall unemployment rate for those aged 25-54 was 4.8 per cent in December, up slightly from 4.2 per cent a year earlier.

Poll highlights

  • 76 per cent feel that their prospects for advancement (such as opportunities to work on impactful projects, upskilling and training, or deepening industry knowledge) have improved significantly or somewhat, up from 68 per cent a year ago. One in five (20 per cent) say there’s been no change in their career advancement prospects – a nine-percentage-point improvement from last year
  • 74 per cent say their prospects of a promotion have also improved, compared to only 58 per cent last year. Just over one in five (22 per cent) said there’s been no change, an improvement of 15 percentage points from last year
  • 73 per cent say their own career progress and/or promotion prospects were deferred or derailed last year due to cutbacks or restructurings their company made in anticipation of a potential recession or economic pressures
  • 80 per cent believe the economic and/or competitive pressures their employer faced over the last year hurt the progress and/or promotion prospects of their Black or racialized colleagues harder than others
  • 79 per cent believe that Black or racialized people were among the first to lose their jobs over the past year

KPMG in Canada surveyed 1,000 Canadians who self-identified as Black and are employed between December 19, 2023 and January 13, 2024 using Sago’s premier Asking Canadians online research platform. Fifty-one per cent of respondents are men and 49 per cent are women. The margin of error is +/3 percentage points, with a confidence level of 95 per cent.

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 more than 10,000 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

For media inquiries:

Caroline Van Hasselt
National Communications and Media Relations
KPMG in Canada
(416) 777-3328

Alannah Page
National Communications and Media Relations
KPMG in Canada