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

Toronto, ON – Despite making up nearly 50% of the population, Greater Toronto Area immigrants only make up 6% of senior leadership positions cross the public, private, and non-profit sector, according to a new 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 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.

The report will be released to the public this evening at the TRIEC Immigrant Inclusion Summit at RBC Waterpark Place Auditorium at 88 Queens Quay West, Toronto, Ontario. Attended by employers, employment service agencies, and leaders of professional immigrant associations, the agenda includes a keynote presentation by the report’s author, networking opportunities between employers and newcomers, and finally, an award ceremony.

In the importance of the report’s findings, TRIEC will recognize 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. Highlighting their accomplishments and practice of excellence, award recipients represent the exceptional work being done in the region to help Canadian immigrants reach their full potential. Winners this year include RBC who, through their vision and generosity, made it possible to scale mentoring of newcomers nationally. TRIEC will also present awards to employer partners who have reached milestones in providing mentors to newcomers from among their staff. Recipients this year include TD Bank, CIBC, and the City of Toronto, all who have combined to mentor over 5,000 newcomers.