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More work needed to combat anti-Black racism in the workplace: study


A recent study is showing that Canadian businesses are making progress when it comes to creating more equitable and inclusive workplaces for Black employees but there's still lots of work to be done.

According to the KPMG survey, seven in 10 employees say they still experience racism or microaggressions at work.

When it comes to confronting racism in the workplace, Halifax advocate Quentrel Provo says there's still much to do and he's not surprised by findings that suggest 72 per cent of Black Canadians polled say they've experienced racism on the job.

"I've dealt with it on the job," said Provo, the founder and CEO of "Stop the Violence," a non-profit he formed in 2015.  "You try and just put your head down and do your job because at the end of the day, you are just trying to pay your bills but also, you want to be comfortable where you are at and welcomed."

The 36-year-old advocate has spent years working in the community to denounce racism, improve workplace culture and make it more inclusive and equitable.

Provo says the data proves what he's known all along, that systemic racism exists in corporate Canada and the business world.

He's hopeful the survey and the data will be followed up on, suggesting the findings can help make a difference and spur change.

"These are hard conversations but we need to have them," said Provo. "I believe we will not really know until five years from now ... and by doing the same survey if the workplace has changed."

Tamika Mitchell is an auditor with KPMG who undertook the survey and is hopeful the data can inform and lead to changes in the workplace, as it proves the feeling Black Canadians have been experiencing in the workforce.

"It causes you to kind of pause and question, is this something that is only happening to me or is it happening to others?" said Mitchell.  "And the results of this poll show it is happening to others and it's something that needs to be addressed."

The results also show that good things are happening in the workforce that can be built upon.

Eight in 10 surveyed felt they can speak out about racism without being stigmatized, while 74 per cent of respondents said their employer has offered resources to advance racial equity.

"Leadership needs to walk to the talk," said Mitchell. "Now that we have this data and it's not ignorable anymore, leaders need to talk about it and be about it."

Provo said has been preaching his anti-racism message for years and will continue talking about it as long as he needs to. He also admits he could easily be discouraged or angry but says he's channelling those emotions in other directions.

"I can put my anger aside," said Provo. "Because I can be angry and upset and do nothing about it, or I can try and be part of the solution and make a change going forward." Top Stories

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