GTA immigrants nearly absent at top of corporate ladder, finds report

January 19, 2020

By Canadian Immigrant Magazine |

Despite making up nearly 50% of the population, Greater Toronto Area immigrants only make up 6% of senior leadership positions across the public, private, and non-profit sector, according to a report recently released by the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC).

While newcomer unemployment rates are at an all-time low, too many immigrant professionals are unable to move up to executive and c-suite level positions. The lack of equal access to professional development opportunities, as well as implicit bias and discriminatory practices have been identified as key barriers contributing to this trend.

The report, Building A Corporate Ladder For All, explores key issues beyond just overall employment numbers of Canadian immigrants, or immediate outcomes like ‘getting the first job’. Through original research – including a study based on a sample of 659 executives and 69 organizations – and interviews with the GTA’s top employers, the report looks extensively at labour market advancement trends, obstacles leading to career stagnation, and critical recommendations for inclusive practices leading to improved immigrant career progression.

“There’s clearly a glass ceiling for immigrant professionals and it’s unfortunate we’re not utilizing the full skills and talent they have to offer,” said Margaret Eaton, Executive Director of TRIEC. “Newcomers offer so much to the economic success of our region and seeing a lack of diversity in leadership positions means there’s still much progress to be made.”

The report also reveals:

  • Private sector has the least diverse leadership: Only 5% of corporate executives in the GTA are immigrants.
  • Public and non-profit sectors are faring only slightly better: Only 6.6% of executives in the GTA are immigrants.
  • Career stagnation exists even in fields most commonly employing newcomers: Immigrants are not climbing up the ladder in financial and insurance as well as professional, scientific and technical services, where the largest concentration of immigrant professionals work.
  • Intersectionality of gender and race has negative impacts – especially for women: Around 4.2% of executives are racialized immigrants and 2% of executives are immigrant women of colour. Only one in 100 corporate executives (1%) is a racialized immigrant woman.

For detailed findings and to access the full report, visit the TRIEC website here.

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