National survey documents experiences of Black Canadians, racialized groups

woman at work on laptop computer

York University’s Institute for Social Research (ISR) has released the results of a research project that explores social, political and economic ties between races and ethnicities.

Led by York University Professor Lorne Foster of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies and ISR director in partnership with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, the Black Canadian National Survey (BCNS) finds that Black Canadians see workplaces as the epicentre of racial discrimination and unfairness.

Lorne Foster
Lorne Foster

“That was one of the biggest surprises or confirmations that I received is the recognition that the work world is really the epicentre of experiences of discrimination,” says Foster, adding employers should keep human rights principals and equity, diversity and inclusion goals front and centre.

The survey found 75 per cent of Black Canadians experience racism in the workplace and think it’s a problem. Seventy per cent of other non-white people also see workplace racism as a serious or very serious problem, while 56 per cent of white Canadians believe it is a minor issue or not a problem.

In addition, 47 per cent of Black people surveyed believe they have been treated unfairly by an employer in hiring, pay or promotion in the last year, compared to 15 per cent of Canadians.

“What this survey confirms is there is not only a strong legacy of racism in Canada, but it has profoundly and enduringly permeated our systems and structures. Even more disturbing, however, is how racism is moving from blatant and overt to more subtle, covert expressions of it,” says Foster, York Research Chair in Black Canadian Studies and Human Rights (Tier 1).

“A proactive examination of organizational culture, attitudes, norms and shared perspectives in workplaces, health care, child services, education, policing and the criminal justice system is urgently needed.”

The survey also sheds light on topics including the criminal justice system, health care, social services, and racial identity.

The report for the Black Canadian National Survey, considered the first-of-its-kind, was released June 13 and looks at the experiences of Black Canadians across the country, as well as the effects of racism on other non-white groups. The researchers conducted a national web survey of over 5,000 respondents and a national Black community web survey, along with a wiki survey with a total of 10,199 votes. The goal is to provide disaggregated data to better understand race-based structural vulnerabilities and systemic barriers so that evidence-based strategies and plans can be created to close equity gaps and promote level playing fields.

The survey was co-sponsored by the Multicultural History Society of Ontario with funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

For a more in-depth look at this research, visit News @ York.