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While the vast majority (90 per cent) of Black Canadians say their employer has made progress on efforts to be more equitable and inclusive for Black employees in 2022, three-quarters (75 per cent) are worried a potential recession could hurt their career and promotion prospects, according to a new survey by KPMG in Canada.

The survey, which polled 1,000 Black Canadians, found 59 per cent of respondents said their employer’s efforts to hire more Black employees improved in 2022, while 54 per cent said their employer’s efforts to promote more Black employees into leadership roles improved during the year.

Read: Communication of DEI initiatives important in remote, hybrid working arrangements: expert

Two-thirds (68 per cent) said their prospects for advancement — such as opportunities to work on impactful projects, upskilling and training for higher-level roles — have improved over the last year, while 58 per cent said their promotion prospects have improved.

However, 69 per cent of respondents said they think Black and racialized employees will be among the first to lose their jobs in a potential recession. In addition, 73 per cent said they believe anti-Black racism efforts and broader diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives will be “put on the back burner” by their employer during an economic downturn.

The survey also found 62 per cent of respondents said they’ve seen an improvement in their co-workers’ understanding of the societal and workplace barriers facing Black Canadians over the past year, while another 61 per cent said the same about their manager’s understanding.

Read: 70% of HR professionals say employer lacks DEI framework: survey

While more than three-quarters (78 per cent) of respondents said they feel valued and respected in the same way as their non-Black colleagues, 70 per cent said they feel they have to work harder than their non-Black colleagues to be valued and recognized in the same way.

Nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) said remote working arrangements have helped reduce anti-Black racism at their workplaces because their colleagues focused more on their skills than their skin colour. In addition, 71 per cent said remote working has helped ease some of the pressures they face as a Black person in the workplace and more than two-thirds (68 per cent) said working remotely has removed racial barriers to career advancement.

“While it’s encouraging to see Canadian organizations have continued to make progress on addressing anti-Black racism over the past year, it’s imperative to keep building on that momentum, even in the face of economic headwinds, labour market fluctuations and inflationary pressures,” said Elio Luongo, chief executive officer and senior partner at KPMG in Canada and co-chair of the firm’s DEI council, in a press release.

Read: Employers need to ‘walk the walk’ on anti-Black racism, DEI issues: survey