Over the summer, we saw companies and academic institutions scramble to put out diversity and inclusion statements — and at the time we here at We Rep STEM wondered aloud how many of those public commitments would spark actual change.

Because — as we’ve said many times before, statements are just words, and there is no quick fix to a workplace culture that, in the past, has enabled discrimination.

The patriarchal structures that systemically oppress individuals with even the slightest hint of intersectionality weren’t created overnight, and creating an inclusive environment that authentically appreciates workplace diversity is an ongoing process.

Flash forward to the present day, roughly six months after George Floyd was murdered by police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Not long after Floyd was killed, people around the world took to the streets to protest an act of cruelty that often happens in broad daylight and is frighteningly common. At the time of this writing, 164 Black people have been killed by police this year in the U.S. alone.

There have been some structural shifts since Floyd’s senseless death. Going forward, the American Physical Society has pledged to review statistics on police conduct when selecting venues for its scientific meetings. The American Medical Association has (finally) acknowledged that racism is a public health threat, and the 2021 Fortune 500 list will allow users to rank and sort companies based on their diversity data.


But on the whole, organizations still have some work to do, according to the results of a new survey from ADP Canada.

In an online poll of 1,546 full and part-time Canadians completed between October 23 and 29, 2020, 13 per cent of all employees said they have either experienced or witnessed race-based discrimination while on company time.

But when you drill down to participants from a racial or ethnic minority, the number more than doubles, with 31 per cent of people from historically-excluded groups reporting such behaviour.

Nineteen per cent said discrimination or a lack of diversity and inclusion influenced their decision to look for another employer.


Black woman holding a megaphone with a comic "explosion" shape in the background. The photo has a purple filter over it.

And — in news that may come as no surprise to anyone who has worked in a discriminatory environment — diverse voices are not being heard. This is a problem, given that true inclusion means listening to, and acting upon, diverse opinions.

One-quarter of all survey respondents said they aren’t comfortable expressing their opinions at work, and members of a visible ethnic or religious minority felt even less so at 31 per cent and 39 per cent, respectively.

And, in more not-so-shocking news, half of the participants belonging to a visible ethnic minority do not see themselves represented in their management teams.

For the purposes of the survey, 'Visible ethnic minorities' reported in the poll include Aboriginal or Indigenous, Black, Afro American or Black Canadian, Asian or Asian Canadian, Arab (North Africa, Middle East, West Asia), Caribbean, Latin, Central and South American and 'others,' per ADP.


Companies that are dragging their feet on diversity, equity, and inclusion matters should take note, as this is an issue that is becoming increasingly important. Nearly half (47 per cent) of younger workers in the 18-34 age range said they would feel more loyal to their company if it took a strong stance on these matters, and 30 per cent of younger employees said they would like to see more workforce diversity in their management teams.

“There is undeniable evidence that diverse workforces support more productive and creative organizations,” Reetu Bajaj, HR Advisor at ADP Canada, said in a statement.

“With the survey indicating that the younger generation of workers is more committed to social justice in the workplace, expectations around diversity and inclusion may be heavily-weighted attributes of ideal employers as the future of work emerges.”

Read more from ADP here.

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