Black Canadians do not trust companies to handle racism

A Proof survey finds that the corporate sector has "work to do" when it comes to delivering on their commitments.

Despite Canadian companies affirming their commitments to combating racism within their organizations and in society, most Black Canadians remain skeptical of their ability to deliver, according to new research from Proof Strategies.

Building on its other work gauging the trust Canadians place in companies and institutions, Proof’s “CanTrust Index Study of Black Canadians” polled 311 Black Canadians in a sample representative of population statistics by region, age and gender. Proof Strategies worked with On Point Insight, a Black-owned and operated research firm, to conduct the survey.

The key finding for the corporate sector is that while 90% of Black Canadians believe corporations have a responsibility to address racism, only 38% trust that they are doing it.

Holding companies to a high standard a racism may be because commitments to diversity are very important to Black Canadians. According to the study, 70% say they are more likely to trust brands and companies that commit to diversity and inclusion policies, compared to 54% of the general population. Black Canadians are also more likely to trust companies with similar values to them – 76%, compared to 66% of the general population.

“Building trust with Black Canadians starts with understanding and validating the Black experience,” said Bunmi Adeoye, SVP at Proof. “As communicators, our goal is to tell these stories and get specific about ways to combat anti-Black racism… Black people are certainly not a monolith, but this study demonstrates that there are fundamental differences and alignments in the levels of trust on certain topics. This is even more pronounced when you look at the levels of trust in young Black Canadians. They are skeptical, and it shows that we have much work to do to gain their trust.”

Though not to the same degree, a gap also exists when it comes to opinions about Canada’s performance as a country when it comes to racism: 48% of Black Canadians believe that Canada is “living up to the value of diversity,” compared to 59% of the general population. Additionally, 44% believe that Canada is inclusive (compared to 50% of the general population), while 42% believe that Canada is “prioritizing fairness” (compared to 48% of the general population).

Outside of corporate Canada, Black Canadians are generally aligned with the general population in terms of which institutions they trust the most (hospitals, doctors, scientists) and least (oil and gas companies). They are also aligned in terms of which brand they trust most – the Canadian Red Cross.

However, Black Canadians are more trusting of traditional news media (50%, compared to 35% of the general population) and are more than twice as likely to trust the government (41% of Black Canadians, compared to 22% of the country as a whole). Sabrina Clarke Duffy, president of On Point Insight, attributes this to the immigration status of Black Canadians.

“While many have been here for 15 or more years, Canada has been a safe haven and given us the opportunity to build a new life,” she said. “We are less critical of the government because we have different expectations.”