Regular readers of Douglas magazine know Ruth Mojeed as a guest columnist. For those who have not yet had the privilege of reading her work, Ruth is a Nigerian born community organizer, civic innovator and communications strategist.
Mojeed is the CEO and founder of The Inclusion Project (TIP), a social innovation network of organizations, communities and institutions engaged in knowledge development and practice to support and further equity, diversity and inclusion. TIP operates a full-service consultancy to support and strengthen intercultural competence through EDI audits, readiness assessment, coaching, mentoring, benchmarking and strategic action planning and framework development
The Inclusion Project recently announced a strategic alliance with Excellence Canada (EC – a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to help organizations improve their performance) to leverage multi-sector partnerships for delivery of REDI (racial equity, diversity and inclusion) programming through the Employment Equity Partnership (EEP).
EEP is a public-private sector initiative of The Inclusion Project on data-driven solutions to systemic racism and inequitable employment in Canada that engages employers to develop a standard for the diversity of their current workforce and develop pathways for engaging talents from under-represented groups, including Indigenous, Black and people of colour communities.
Why this data is relevant
The coronavirus outbreak has aggravated inequities that have long existed in our labour markets due to deeply entrenched systemic racism and discrimination. Equity seeking groups have been greatly impacted by the pandemic, recording higher levels of unemployment and lower wages in comparison to their White counterparts. Visible minorities form a large portion of frontline workers, which suggests that some groups of Canadians have been at greater risk of exposure than others.
Equity groups are vastly underrepresented and undercompensated in civil society, in academia, in finance and in tech.
There are so few BIPOC presidents, directors, and CEOs of Canadian civil sector organizations since presidents, directors, and CEOs usually network with and raise money with White liberals. A board will usually hire a white, liberal candidate who speaks the language of these people, and is from the same class (1).
In academia, faculty and leadership remain very white and male. According to Statistics Canada, in 2016-2017, only 40% of full-time faculty at Canadian universities were women and at the end of 2019, there were only 25 women university presidents. Racialized people represent 22% of the Canadian population, and they only represent 8% of senior leadership in academia. Racialized and Indigenous faculty members tend to experience work situations where they have less control over their working conditions, institutional barriers to their scholarly potential and productivity, and challenges to their professional judgements and entitlements (2).
The finance sector, which historically practiced “redlining” throughout the 20th century by denying mortgages to people in BIPOC communities, has a long way to go. Equity groups are vastly underrepresented in this sector and federally regulated firms are not publicly reporting the representation levels of employees who self-identify as “Aboriginal peoples, members of visible minorities [VM] or persons with disabilities, which is a requirement.
Tech, which is becoming one the fastest growing sectors in Canada, is still a predominantly male industry. Only 7.6% (approximately 294,000 people) of all visible minorities in Canada work in tech. Women receive lower compensation than men across all visible minority groups, receiving, on average, $10,900 less than their male counterparts in a year. Women and visible minorities are less likely to be empowered and employed by the tech sector and encounter significant wage gaps in relation to their White counterparts.
In addition to these alarming stats, Canada’s demographics are rapidly changing; by 2031, nearly half (46%) of Canadians aged 15 and older could be foreign-born, and 47% of the second generation (the Canadian-born children of immigrants) will belong to a visible minority group. Diversity is growing among our population and can no longer be ignored by key decision makers.
Furthermore, there is evidence that a shift to an equitable framework for inclusion has resulted in more positive employment outcomes for minorities.
The global pandemic represents an opportunity to reexamine the future of the workplace. According to research from Google, Microsoft and leading tech companies, the data shows that overall progress in inclusion is still lagging and there is an urgent need to analyze data beyond the surface to support accountability.
Audits and data driven assessments of workplace standards are absolutely necessary to drive systemic change and dismantle the yoke of historical and structural discrimination.
As organizations look to the future and plan for recovery, EEP saw an opportunity to level the gaps between racialized communities and non racialized communities, including women and youth. This opportunity is taking the form of a roundtable discussion in March of this year, with the theme of “Moving with the Data”.
EEP Roundtable: Moving with the Data
The Roundtable will unite multi-sector industry leaders and leading stakeholders to spearhead strategic discussions on how to address systemic racism and gender inequities in the Canadian workplace.
“The goal of the partners’ roundtable is to bring together Canada’s top employers in a discussion on desegregated race-based data and identify key imperatives for change in policy, practice and processes,” Ruth told me over coffee.
Discussions will be centered around how to address enduring systemic gender inequality and systemic racism in the workplace. Thought leaders will be invited to make meaning of the data. EEP can assist in advancing racial and gender inequality through Workplace Equity Scorecards.
The outcomes of these discussions will lay the foundation for propelling access, partnerships and cross-sector collaborations as well as concrete commitments to equitable policy, practice and process development.
Notable participants in the roundtable are Senator Ratna Omidvar, Andrea Dicks, Tabatha Bull, Aleem Bharwani, John Stackhouse, Nadia Theodore, and Anna Triandafyllidou
For more information on the roundtable, please contact Ruth Mojeed: [email protected]
- “The persistence of Structural Racism in Canadian Cultural Organizations” –
- Thomas, M. 2010. “Neoliberalism, Racialization, and the Regulation of Employment Standards.” In Neoliberalism and Everyday Life, edited by S. Braedley and M. Luxton, 68–89. Montreal: McGillQueen’s University Press.