Knowledge Center

Career Advancement in Corporate Canada: A Focus on Visible Minorities ~ Critical Relationships

This report is the third of five in the Career Advancement in Corporate Canada: A Focus on Visible Minorities series, which explores how visible minority women and men perceive their career advancement and development in corporate Canada. The series is based on research conducted by Catalyst and the Diversity Institute in Management & Technology at Ryerson Institute in Toronto. This report explores an important aspect of career advancement: the development of critical relationships.

Impetus: By 2017, visible minorities are expected to represent one in five people in Canada’s available workforce; by 2011, they will comprise all net growth in the labour force. These talented, hard-working women and men will be critical to the performance of Canadian companies and firms in the decades to come.

Methodology: These findings are based on an employee survey of more than 17,000 managers, professionals, and executives and an employer survey on diversity and inclusion programs and practices. Catalyst also conducted focus groups with visible minority and white/Caucasian managers, professionals, and executives.

Findings: Visible minorities often felt excluded from informal networking opportunities and the relationships that may result from them: having a network, a mentor, and a champion.

  • The experiences of visible minority women often paralleled those of visible minority men.
  • There were also similarities between the experiences of visible minority women and white/Caucasian women.
  • However, there was evidence that visible minority women may at times experience “double-outsider” status.
  • Visible minorities and white/Caucasian women often felt isolated from and uncomfortable in informal networking opportunities involving activities such as drinking in bars and playing or watching sports.
  • A lack of available mentors is a career advancement barrier for visible minorities.
  • Focus group participants indicated that self-promotion helps potential champions know why they should take on the champion role. Visible minority women frequently expressed discomfort at the idea of self-promotion.

Lead Sponsor: RBC Financial Group
Participating Sponsors: Deloitte & Touche, IBM Canada
Supporting Sponsors: Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration