Beyond February: Concluding Black History Month and Commencing Progress on Racial Justice

Black History Month 2022

The observance of Black History Month is centered around acknowledging the pivotal contributions made by Black people in Canada. It is also a month where conversations on anti-Black racism and racial justice are amplified. Yet, when Black History Month comes to an end, these efforts are often paused despite racial inequities persisting all-year long. The continuation of conversations centered around anti-Black racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion are especially crucial now due to the ways that the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed Black Canadians to the brink revealing how health and economic inequities experienced by Black Canadians are deeply intertwined with systemic racism.
Covid-19 caused widespread disruptions, but research has shown that Black Canadians were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Moreover, Black Canadians and racialized groups were grappling with a dual pandemic, the pandemic of systemic racism and Covid-19. Black Canadians make up a small percentage of the Canadian population, however, according to Statistics Canada, Black Canadians had significantly higher mortality rates and infection rates in contrast to white Canadians. In addition, Black Canadians experienced higher risk of exposure to the coronavirus, due to inequalities related to healthcare, living conditions, and employment. In regards to employment, Black Canadians experienced the highest unemployment rates and job loss rate in comparison to other racial groups. Specifically, Black Canadian women experienced the highest levels of unemployment rates, while being overrepresented in frontline employment, the care economy, and in precarious work.
Two years into Covid-19, Canada’s focus has diverted to post-pandemic recovery. However, without concrete action, racial inequities will continue to shape the lives of Black Canadians while the rest of Canada “builds back better”. The private sector can contribute to real progress on racial justice, by focusing on centering equity, inclusion, and diversity in their efforts to ensure an efficient and sustainable recovery. Key actions include:

  • Recognize and publicly acknowledge that racial inequities are a real and persistent issue within Canada. Learn about how Covid-19 has deepened social, economic and health inequities of Black Canadians and how social determinants of health have hindered their recovery post-pandemic.
  • Be responsive to the concerns raised by Black employees, workers, and stakeholders rather than disregarding, dismissing, or minimizing their voices and making assumptions about what is best for the Black community.
  • Invest in educating employees on anti-Black racism and building strong allyship within the workplace. Engage in training sessions that go beyond unconscious bias to include anti-Black racism, racial justice, discrimination, and microagressions as clearly set out in the Black Lives Matter and Business Report by the UN Global Compact Network UK.
  • Commit to the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact by being a leading workplace free from anti-Black racism and recognizing that systemic racism is a direct threat to human rights.

The UN Global Compact understands how anti-racist action is imperative to dismantling systemic barriers and reforming discriminatory institutions. Learn more here about how the UN Global Compact is working with business to eliminate systemic racism.