News and Announcements

Groundbreaking Survey of Visible Minorities in Corporate Canada

RBC's Gordon Nixon calls on Canada?s CEOs to join research effort launched by Catalyst and Ryerson University

A national survey examining the career advancement of visible minorities in Corporate Canada was officially launched today by Catalyst Canada and the Diversity Institute in Management and Technology at Ryerson University. Career Advancement in Corporate Canada: A Focus on Visible Minorities will explore the career development and advancement of visible minority professionals, managers and executives in publicly traded and privately held Canadian corporations and professional services firms. 

Calling on the CEOs of Canada’s top companies to participate in this pivotal initiative, Gordon M. Nixon, President and CEO of RBC Financial Group, the Survey’s lead sponsor and member of the Catalyst Canada Advisory Board, stressed that there is a significant cost to the country and its citizens if visible minorities cannot participate fully in the workplace. “Businesses have been dropping the ball when it comes to tapping the potential of visible minorities in our workforce. Diversity can be Canada’s competitive advantage. So the challenge for corporate Canada – for each of us – is finding out exactly what barriers are preventing visible minorities from advancing in their chosen careers and then addressing them.” 

By 2016, visible minorities are expected to represent one in five people in Canada’s available workforce. In major cities across the country, the visible minority representation in the labour force will be closer to half. Issues facing visible minorities continue to be well documented; yet no research to date has contributed to understanding the fundamental challenges faced by many visible minorities in their professional lives. 

The Catalyst/Ryerson research team will launch concurrent confidential e-surveys of employers and employees in participating companies beginning in October 2006. Both visible and nonvisible minorities at the executive, professional and managerial levels in participating companies will be surveyed. To date, companies representing 435,755 male and female employees including more than 20,000 professionals, managers and executives across Canada have signed on. 


  • What are the barriers that visible minority professionals, managers and executives face with regards to their career development and advancement?
  • What practices and polices do organizations adopt to enable visible minority professionals, managers and executives to excel professionally?
  • What are the differences between organizational practices that aim at attracting, motivating and retaining visible minority professionals, managers and executives and their employees’ perceptions of those practices?

“If Canada is going to succeed in the very real and highly competitive global war for talent, we must start with a very clear picture of the fundamental issues faced by visible minorities in the business community,” said Deborah Gillis, Catalyst Canada Executive Director.

"It is vital that business leaders, researchers and advisory organizations work together to affect change in organizations’ diversity policies and practices and learn more about valuable career development and advancement strategies employed by visible minority professionals in various occupations and industries,” stated Wendy Cukier, Associate Dean, Faculty of Business at Ryerson University. "To achieve this goal, it is imperative to include input from both nonvisible minority and visible minority professionals, managers and executives from as many different organizations as possible.” 

RBC Financial Group is the study’s lead sponsor; IBM Canada and Deloitte & Touche LLP are participating sponsors. 

Alan MacGibbon, Managing Partner and Chief Executive of Deloitte & Touche LLP noted: “Talent transcends ethnicity. As business leaders, our job is to ensure every talented person is able to succeed and reach their full potential.” 

“Ensuring that the Canadian workforce reflects the rich diversity of our country and that we have an inclusive environment where all employees can reach their ultimate potential should be the goal of all organizations,” said Cheryl Craven, Vice President, Human Resources, IBM Canada. "As we gain greater knowledge of our visible minority community, corporate Canada will be able to use that insight to provide value to both local and global clients." 

Visible minorities are individuals who self-identify as being non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour and exclude Aboriginal persons. As visible minority employees are not a homogeneous group, the Catalyst/Ryerson research team will gather data on the following 10 Census Canada classifications: Chinese; South Asian; Black; Arab/West Asian; Filipino; South East Asian; Latin American; Japanese; Korean and Other. 

Companies not yet participating in the survey are urged to contact Deborah Gillis, Catalyst Canada Executive Director at [email protected]. Research results will be disseminated in 2007. 

About Catalyst
Catalyst is the leading research and advisory organization working to advance women in business, with offices in New York, San Jose, Zurich and Toronto. As an independent, nonprofit membership organization, Catalyst conducts research on all aspects of women's career advancement and provides strategic and web-based consulting services on a global basis to help companies and firms advance women and build inclusive work environments. In addition, we honor exemplary business initiatives that promote women's leadership with the annual Catalyst Award. 

About the Diversity Institute in Management and Technology at Ryerson University
The Diversity Institute in Management and Technology is located in the Faculty of Business at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. The Diversity Institute undertakes diversity research with respect to gender,  race/ethnicity, disabilities and sexual orientation in the workplace. The goal of the Institute is to generate new, interdisciplinary knowledge about diversity in organizations to contribute to the awareness and the promotion of equity in the workplace. Visit for more information.