How do Black Canadians feel about their employer’s efforts to be inclusive?

Two-thirds report seeing genuine responses and thoughtful action, but less so when it comes to trying to reach Black consumers.


Two-thirds of Black Canadians believe their employers are making genuine efforts to hire more Black Canadians, and making progress on promises to be more equitable and inclusive for Black employees.

This is according to KPMG, which surveyed 1,006 Black Canadians 18+ from December 22, 2021 to January 7, 2022 using Delvinia’s and its extended community’s AskingCanadians panel through its Methodify online research platform.

The firm’s research shows that 58% of respondents also report that their employers are making genuine efforts to promote more Black Canadians into leadership roles. Meanwhile, 35% say their prospects for promotion and advancement have improved while 19% say they got a job they previously would have been overlooked for.

“These results show that many Canadian organizations have made real and sustained efforts to tackle racial bias in their organizations,” says Rob Davis, chief inclusion and 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.”

However, the survey also found that 12% of respondents report their company’s promises to be more inclusive “are simply lip service” and 20% say their companies have actually “taken no action at all.”

Furthermore, while 74% of Black Canadians say they feel valued and respected in the same way as their non-Black colleagues, 70% feel they have to work harder than their non-Black peers in order to earn that same respect. Also, nearly a third of Black employees have continued to experience microaggressions and racism at work, including 14% who say it has actually increased during the last 18 months, with many concerned about a return to the office.

“While, overall, Black Canadians are facing less racism at work, it is still an ugly reality for many,” Davis says.

On the public-facing side, two-thirds of respondents say their employers have improved their customer services practices and 64% say their employer has improved its goods and services offerings for Black customers. Two-thirds also report their employer has made efforts to engage more Black-owned businesses and vendors over the last year-and-a-half.

“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,” says Alison Rose, partner, life and pensions actuarial practice, KPMG in Canada.

According to Rose, the key takeaway is that, while companies are making efforts to improve the Black customer experience, there is still much work to do.

When it comes to ameliorating workplace discrimination, KPMG’s insights reveal 84% respondents want their employers to make stronger commitments and establish targets for hiring and promoting more Black Canadians, with clear and measurable outcomes and accountability mechanisms. This includes appointing more Black Canadians to the board of directors and/or senior management ranks, more anti-racism education, and senior leadership “walking the walk.”