November 26, 2020

In May 2020, the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody reignited the Black Lives Matter movement, giving rise to mass anti-racism protests throughout the United States and subsequently worldwide. At the same time, new data began exposing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people from racial and ethnic minority groups. The resulting increase in public awareness of systemic racism and its effects has generated unprecedented momentum and widespread support for anti-racist initiatives, with activists in Canada highlighting the prevalence of racism and discrimination against Black and Indigenous people in particular. At this critical moment, employers and unions have an important opportunity to evaluate their roles in combating racial injustice and to take meaningful action toward building more equitable workplaces.

In this session, experts will provide practical guidance on how to recognize and begin rooting out racism in the workplace, with a focus on the following issues:

  • How has the dialogue around racism changed in recent months, and what is the significance of this change for employers and unions? What commitments have Canadian businesses and other organizations made in support of Black, Indigenous, and other racialized communities?
  • In what ways is systemic racism manifested in the workplace? Why can systemic racism be difficult to identify?
  • What barriers do racialized applicants encounter in recruitment and hiring? How can employers improve recruitment and hiring practices to avoid racial discrimination and build a more diverse workforce?
  • What is unconscious bias, and how does it affect the workplace? What strategies can workplace parties use to interrupt bias?
  • What are microaggressions? What are some examples of microaggressions and their effects in the workplace? How should workplace parties respond to microaggressions?
  • How can employers and unions improve the effectiveness of diversity and inclusion training? What resources are available to workplace parties seeking to learn more about racism?
  • How can employers and unions initiate open, honest conversations with employees about racism? How can workplace leaders create an environment in which employees feel comfortable communicating feedback and concerns?
  • What unique challenges are Black, Indigenous, and other racialized employees facing during this time, and how can workplace parties best support them?
  • What steps can unions take to advocate for anti-racist practices in their workplaces and assume leadership roles in advancing racial equity?