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Wanted: More immigrants at the top of the corporate ladder


Despite making up nearly 50 per cent of the population, Greater Toronto Area immigrants only make up six per cent of senior leadership positions across the public, private, and non-profit sector, according to a recent report published 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 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 per cent of corporate executives in the GTA are immigrants.

• Public and non-profit sectors are faring only slightly better: Only 6.6 per cent 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 per cent of executives are racialized immigrants and 2 per cent of executives are immigrant women of colour. Only one in 100 corporate executives is a racialized immigrant woman.

The report was released at the TRIEC Immigrant Inclusion Summit. Attended by employers, employment service agencies, and leaders of professional immigrant associations, the event included a keynote presentation by the report’s author and networking opportunities between employers and newcomers.

Partners and employer champions in the city who have been countering the trends by going the extra mile in supporting immigrant success in the labour market were recognized at an awards ceremony. Over 5,000 newcomers were mentored this past year.

TRIEC Mentoring Partnership has found mentors for over 15,000 new immigrants since 2004. Newcomers bring valuable professional experience to the GTA, but often struggle to find employment where their skills can be fully leveraged. Their mentors help them build professional networks and provide guidance on how the local job market works.

Mentoring brings many benefits –  75 per cent of newcomers find employment after taking part in the program. This enables them to contribute to the labour market, which boosts the economy. Mentoring also helps the mentor learn leadership and cross-cultural communication skills. As recent census data has shown, Toronto is becoming ever more diverse, so these are competencies that today’s professionals need to be able to have.

Posted: Jan 31, 2020

May 2020

Centennial College



Immigration Peel Canada



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