Research Reveals Visible Minorities Experience Lower Levels of Career
Satisfaction and Workplace Barriers to Advancement
Corporate Canada urged to take action using study's recommendations
TORONTO, June 28 /CNW/ - Findings from the largest national survey ever
conducted about career satisfaction and advancement of visible minorities in
corporate Canada show that while visible minorities experience lower levels of
career satisfaction than their white/Caucasian colleagues, the opportunity for
more inclusive work environments and advancement of visible minority
professionals is within the reach of corporate Canada. Given existing links
between career satisfaction and productivity, the results are particularly
significant, as Canadian businesses cannot afford to under utilize any segment
of the talent in today's globally competitive marketplace.
Career Advancement in Corporate Canada: A Focus on Visible Minorities was
undertaken by Catalyst Canada and the Diversity Institute in Management and
Technology at Ryerson University and is based on the responses of 17,908
seasoned managers, professionals, and executives from across Canada. With an
average tenure of 20 years in the Canadian labour force, responses came from
employees at 43 large publicly traded and privately held companies and
professional service firms, as well as representatives from 38 Canadian
While the labour market experiences of unemployed and under-employed
immigrants have been well documented, much less is known about the career
experiences of longer tenured visible minority professionals, managers, and
executives. This is especially true when it comes to those employed in large
Canadian businesses - the place where skills and opportunity come together
By 2017, visible minorities are expected to represent one in five people
in Canada's available workforce. In major cities across the country, the
visible minority representation in the labour force will be closer to half.
This growth comes in the face of an aging Canadian workforce, the retirement
of the boomer generation and a lower birth rate - all pointing to an impending
Visible minority managers, professionals, and executives were less
satisfied with their careers and were more likely to perceive workplace
barriers to advancement than their white/Caucasian colleagues. These barriers
included: perceived lack of fairness in career advancement processes, an
absence of role models, inequality in performance standards, and fewer
- Just over half (54 percent) of visible minority respondents reported
feeling satisfied with their progress toward meeting career
advancement goals compared to more than two thirds (67 percent) of
- Only 38 percent of all visible minority respondents believed their
organizations' talent identification practices were fair as compared
to 46 percent of their white/Caucasian colleagues.
- Forty-seven percent of visible minority managers, professionals and
executives reported feeling they were held to a higher standard of
performance than their peers within organizations compared to
34 percent of white/Caucasians who felt the same way.
- More visible minority respondents (69 percent) reported believing
that "who you know" is more important than "what you know" as
compared to 57 percent of white/Caucasian respondents.
Catalyst's Executive Director Deborah Gillis said: "While the Canadian
workforce is diverse, our workplaces are far from inclusive. Given that a
growing proportion of Canada's labour force will soon consist of visible
minorities, creating inclusive work environments will be critical to the
competitiveness of Canadian businesses for decades to come."
There is a gap between what respondents think their companies do and what
companies report has been achieved in terms of diversity for their employees.
- Less than half (48 percent) of visible minority professionals,
managers, and executives surveyed felt that senior management
demonstrates a commitment to diversity. The majority of employers, on
the other hand, report having a stated commitment to diversity and
58 percent of employers report having a diversity council. The CEO
chaired more than half of these diversity councils.
- While 82 percent of employers reported they had formal procedures for
communicating advancement opportunities to their employees,
significantly more white/Caucasian respondents (75 percent) than
visible minority respondents (64 percent) felt they had the same
chance of finding out about career advancement opportunities as their
- Levels of career satisfaction were 23 percent higher among visible
minority respondents who believed their senior management was
committed to the development and advancement of all employees,
compared to visible minority respondents who did not.
This research identifies real opportunity for action and change for
forward thinking companies: aspects of the workplace that detract from visible
minorities' career satisfaction and advancement are within corporate Canada's
"Canadian companies face a global war for talent and shortages have
reached crisis proportions in some sectors. This one-of-a-kind survey is a
call to action and provides concrete recommendations for improvement. Failure
to improve the advancement opportunities for our talented and diverse labour
force not only threatens corporate performance but Canada's global
competitiveness," said Wendy Cukier, Associate Dean, Ted Rogers School of
Management, and founder of the Diversity Institute at Ryerson University.
Catalyst Canada and the Diversity Institute offer six evidence-based
recommendations for organizational change:
1. Assess the corporate environment. Visible minority respondents
confirmed that organization leaders need to better understand their
challenges and aspirations.
2. Make diversity a strategic priority. The importance of visible
minorities to the future economic success of Canada cannot be over-
emphasized. By elevating diversity to a strategic priority, companies
can begin to shift the culture of their organizations.
3. Encourage top management commitment to diversity. Commitment from the
top is essential to any business initiative, including diversity.
4. Implement career development systems that are formal and transparent.
Policies and practices that foster an equitable environment and
support employee development are needed to reduce the perceived
influence of informal mechanisms on career advancement opportunities.
5. Develop a robust accountability framework around diversity. Metrics
and accountability were the least frequently reported diversity and
inclusion practice. Accountability systems require clear and relevant
metrics to measure change.
6. Provide support mechanisms. Support measures include providing
mentors and role models, networking opportunities, high profile
assignments, and actions that balance sensitivity to other cultures.
"Corporate Canada must step up to the plate to help advance and develop
visible minorities in the workplace," said Gordon M. Nixon, President and CEO,
RBC, and Chair, RBC Diversity Leadership Council. "The report's
recommendations will help businesses walk the talk and prove that we are not
just paying lip service to diversity, but taking tangible, credible steps to
make a real difference."
RBC is the study's lead sponsor. Deloitte & Touche LLP and IBM Canada are
participating sponsors, and the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and
Immigration is a supporting sponsor.
Alan MacGibbon, Managing Partner and Chief Executive, Deloitte & Touche
LLP said: "Fostering an inclusive work environment in which talent and
accomplishments determine success is a business imperative. As business
leaders we must find a way to ensure that every person is able to succeed and
reach their full potential."
"This research will help frame our strategic initiatives and identify
focus areas to advance our visible minority community. We will ensure that we
capitalize on the evidence-based recommendations that the study identified,"
said Anne Berend, VP, Human Resources at IBM Canada.
"Diversity is one of Ontario's greatest strengths," said Ontario Minister
of Citizenship and Immigration Mike Colle. "The Ontario government is working
with employers, the professions, and community agencies to help maximize this
This report is part of an ongoing study. The second phase, which Catalyst
began in May 2007, involves a series of focus groups and interviews with both
visible minority and white/Caucasian managers, professionals and executives in
order to better understand subtle differences among and between all groups as
well as men and women. These findings will be released beginning in late fall
In February 2007, the Catalyst/Ryerson research team released early
findings noting that visible minority managers, professionals, and executives
experienced lower rates of career satisfaction than white/Caucasian
respondents and that a perceived lack of recognition of foreign educational
credentials may have implications for employees' career satisfaction and their
interest in exploring opportunities outside Canada. For a copy of these
preliminary findings, please visit www.catalyst.org or
Visible minorities are individuals who self-identify as being
non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour and exclude Aboriginal persons.
As visible minority employees are not a homogeneous group, the
Catalyst/Ryerson research team gathered data on the following Census Canada
classifications: White/Caucasian; Chinese; South Asian; Black; Arab; West
Indian; Filipino; Southeast Asian; Latin American; Middle Eastern; Japanese;
Korean; multiple visible minority; and other.
Visit www.catalyst.org or www.ryerson.ca/diversity for full findings.
Catalyst is the leading research and advisory organization working to
advance women in business, with offices in New York, San Jose, Zug,
Switzerland and Toronto. As an independent, nonprofit membership organization,
Catalyst conducts research on all aspects of women's career advancement and
provides strategic and web-based consulting services on a global basis to help
companies and firms advance women and build inclusive work environments. In
addition, we honor exemplary business initiatives that promote women's
leadership with the annual Catalyst Award.
About the Diversity Institute in Management and Technology at Ryerson
The Diversity Institute in Management and Technology is located in the
Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. The
Diversity Institute undertakes diversity research with respect to gender,
race/ethnicity, disabilities, and sexual orientation in the workplace. The
goal of the Institute is to generate new, interdisciplinary knowledge about
diversity in organizations to contribute to the awareness and the promotion of
equity in the workplace.
For further information:
For further information: Claire M. Tallarico, Catalyst Canada, (416)
690-0316; Kathleen Powderley, Ryerson University, (416) 979-5000 ext 7505