In 1984, Canadian judge Rosalie Abella, later appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, chaired a commission that explored equality in Canadian workplaces. Her report became the 1986 Employment Equity Act, and its stated goal was “to achieve equality in the workplace so that no person shall be denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to ability and … to correct the conditions of disadvantage in employment experienced by women, [Indigenous] peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities by giving effect to the principle that employment equity means more than treating persons in the same way but also requires special measures and the accommodation of differences.”
Thirty-five years later, we have yet to accomplish workplace equity.
Hiring bias has remained largely unchanged for racialized Canadians. According to a 2019 article published in the journal Sociological Science, out of nine western countries, Canada ranks in the top five for racist hiring practices. The study’s authors looked at 200,000 job applications to determine whether there was a difference in who received call-backs between similarly qualified minority and white candidates.
The study found that white Canadians received 44 per cent more callbacks than their minority counterparts, better than only Great Britain (55 per cent), Sweden (65 per cent) and France (83 per cent)— and worse than the U.S. (33 per cent).
That’s not just bad for Black Canadians, it’s bad for everyone.