Toronto immigrants face ‘thick glass ceiling’ when it comes to executive jobs, study finds

November 22, 2019

By Toronto Star |

Immigrants may have made progress reaching the first rung on their career ladder in Canada, but they are getting nowhere near the C-suites, a new report says.

Among the leading Greater Toronto Area employers across the public, private and non-profit sectors, only 6 per cent of executives — those at the level of vice-president or above — are immigrants, according to the study, “Building a Corporate Ladder for All,” to be released Thursday by the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council.

While the public and non-profit sectors are faring slightly better with 6.6 per cent of their executives being immigrants, just 5 per cent of corporate executives overall in the GTA are newcomers, says the study, which did not survey executives directly, but examined third-party public sources, such as LinkedIn, to determine immigrant representation.

Being a visible minority immigrant woman is a triple whammy as they only make up one in 100 corporate executives in the region, the report found, though women overall accounted for 36 per cent of the executive positions.

“Immigrants often have to begin their Canadian careers at more junior, even entry levels. This mid- or late-career ‘restart’ makes it unlikely that they will be able to climb up to the top of the career ladder. Taking a lower level position has the potential to affect an immigrant’s entire career in Canada,” says the report, referring to the limited upward mobility faced by newcomers as the “sticky floor” phenomenon.

“Employer reluctance to hire immigrant talent for management-level positions in particular, plays a significant role in limiting advancement … Cultural differences in management and leadership styles can play a role in this. There are certain cultural expectations in Canada around how a leader should behave.”

Report author and researcher Yilmaz Ergun Dinc analyzed the profiles of 659 executives from 69 employers through sampling from the 2019 GTA Top Employers listing by Mediacorp Canada. Only those with headquarters and executive positions in Canada were counted. Data was culled through company websites, annual reports, investor reports, LinkedIn and Bloomberg profiles, as well as other publicly available sources.

Although the findings are not definitive, the report offers a snapshot of immigrant representation in executive roles in the region.

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