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Visible minorities face 'hidden discrimination,' study finds Add to ...

Good jobs and promotions in the workplace continue to elude many visible minorities and aoriginals, according to a study released by the Canadian Race Relations Foundations Tuesday.

"Our findings confirm that the higher you go in the workplace, the whiter it becomes," Dr. Jean Lock Kunz, senior research associate at the Canadian Council on Social Development said about the study. The study was written by the CCSD for the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, which operates at arm's-length from the federal government.

"Racial discrimination is still present in the work place, mostly in covert forms. Diversity is generally seen at the bottom and middle level of the labour force pyramid."

Dr. Kunz and his team based their results on analysis of recent quantitative statistics and focus groups across Canada.

They reported that despite the fact that visible minorities have generally higher levels of education than white Canadians, they have lower levels of employment and income.

Foreign-born visible minorities and aboriginals are over-represented in the bottom 20 per cent of income earners, and are under-represented in the top 20 per cent of income earners, the CRRF reported. It said that foreign-born visible minorities and aboriginals earned 78 cents for every dollar earned by a foreign-born white Canadian.

The race-relations foundation said its focus group participants agreed employment success was dependent on the right skills, education, and economic conditions, but added they had seen examples of racial discrimination in the workplace.

Members of its focus groups said racism is a "hidden thing" on the job. Examples of "subtle discrimination" include being passed over for promotion, being assigned unpleasant tasks at work, being stereotyped, and being excluded from the "inner circle" of their workplace.

The study found that visible minorities and aboriginals with university educations are less likely to hold managerial and professional jobs. Of visible minorities who do tend to hold managerial job, more than half of them are self-employed.

"This report should be required reading for employers in both the public and private sectors," said Lincoln Alexander, the CRRF's chairman. "The results demonstrate that we need to make greater efforts to eliminate systemic discrimination in Canada."

The group said Canada needs to revise its employment equity laws to reduce employment and income disparities.

"Employment equity alone is not a panacea for eliminating racial discrimination in the workplace. We also need to eliminate the barriers faced by immigrants in accessing professions and trades and put more effort into raising public awareness about the existence of systemic discrimination in the workplace," said Moy Tam, the Foundation's chief operating officer.

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