January 31, 2023

Black Canadians Worry Recession Will Wipe Out DEI Gains

Employers continued to make progress in addressing anti-Black racism last year, but Black Canadians worry that a recession could wipe out those gains, finds a new survey.

In KPMG in Canada’s survey of more than 1,000 Black Canadians, 9 in 10 felt their employers had made progress on efforts to be more equitable and inclusive for Black employees in 2022. Most also said their companies had hired and promoted more Black people, and noted improvements in their own career and promotion prospects. 

Black Canadians also reported improvements in their workplace experience, with 7 in 10 thanking increased remote and hybrid working for reducing experiences of workplace racism.

Still, 70% said they feel they have to work harder than their non-Black colleagues to be valued and recognized in the same way.

Will DEI be put on the back burner?

Despite 2022’s progress, most (75%) people worried that a potential recession would disproportionately impact people of color, hurting their career and promotion prospects.

More than 7 in 10 thought DEI and anti-Black racism efforts would be “put on the back burner” in the case of an economic downturn, something we’ve already noticed is happening across the US.

Read: Is The Tech Industry Using The Economy As An Excuse To Ditch BLM Promises?

“While it’s encouraging to see Canadian organizations have continued to make progress on addressing anti-Black racism over the past year, it’s imperative to keep building on that momentum, even in the face of economic headwinds, labor market fluctuations, and inflationary pressures,” said Elio Luongo, CEO and Senior Partner of KPMG in Canada and Co-Chair of the firm’s Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (ID&E) Council in a statement.

“Inclusive organizations are naturally more innovative because they value and incorporate diverse perspectives, and that not only helps makes their business stronger, it helps strengthen Canada’s economy. As a business community, we must not lose sight of what’s important – people.”

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Samara Linton

Community Manager at POCIT | Co-editor of The Colour of Madness: Mental Health and Race in Technicolour (2022), and co-author of Diane Abbott: The Authorised Biography (2020)