May Labour Report: The importance of employee diversity

Since this past February, every single month Statistics Canada has reported record breaking employment growth and dwindling unemployment rates, and the trend hasn’t stopped in the May 2022 Labour Report. This has led to an increasingly tight labour market, creating new challenges for employers, but also major wins for diverse candidates nationwide.

Industry and location determine level of impact

Across the country employment rose by 0.2%, driven by a 0.9% increase in full-time employment. Employment in the services-producing sector rose by 0.5%, with gains spread across several industries, including accommodation and food services. Throughout Canada employment is up in the services-producing sector, while the manufacturing and construction sectors have now plateaued after several months of growth.

Meanwhile, employment gains were seen in Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island last month — with little change in the rest of Canada and a slight decline in New Brunswick partially offsetting gains from the previous two months.

Women are contributing to the majority of employment growth

After facing greater job losses than their male counterparts in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, women are now driving the decline in the unemployment rate. Statistics Canada attributes the nationwide employment gains in May almost entirely to women across all ages, stating employment for their male counterparts has remained consistent this past month.

Speaking with Global News, Rafael Gomez — director of the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources at the University of Toronto — says the ramping up of service sectors, especially those hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, is the key factor bringing more women back into the workforce.

Interestingly, the June Labour report also found women are making significant gains in medium and high income-earning positions. A 2021 report from the Labour Market Information Council (LMIC) found women are more likely to be low income earners, representing 58% of workers in low-income occupations in 2019. Women in these occupations also experienced greater job losses at the onset of the pandemic compared to men (-23.3% vs. -18.9%). Since the beginning of the year employers across the country have ramped up their hiring activities, and employment for women in low-earning occupations has increased by 0.5% compared to its pre-pandemic level. However, according to LMIC’s report on Women in the Labour Market from this past March, this number stands out in contrast to the much larger employment gains observed by women in medium (+4.1%) and high (+4.7%) income-earning positions.

Unfortunately, there is no way to know for sure what factors are contributing to this shift in employment for women. LMIC economist — Brittany Feor — tells Global News, “Women are doing well today and gaining employment in higher income positions today, (but) that doesn’t really tell us what happened to the women who lost employment in April of 2020, doesn’t speak to what their experience has been.”

Year-over-year employment rate increases for diverse groups

While the labour pool continues to shrink, there has been a notable improvement in labour market conditions for diverse labour groups. According to Statistics Canada notable year-over-year increases are being observed among First Nations women (+10.4%), South Asian women (+6.3%), Metis men (+4.9%) and Filipino men (+4%).

Similar to trying to determine the cause and effect of the massive increase in employment for women in the country, it is just as challenging to find certainty for the increase in employment among diverse labour groups. “Changes in the employment rate of diverse groups can be associated with many factors,” says Statistics Canada. “Including changes in the composition of employment by industry and occupation.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what is driving the improvement in labour market conditions for diverse groups. When it comes to increased diversity in the workplace, everyone wins. A 2020 study conducted by McKinsey & Company found that companies in their study in the top quartile for both gender and ethnic diversity were 12% more likely to outperform all other companies in the data set, and that number increases to a 36% higher profitability compared to those companies in the bottom quartile. To put it simply — greater representation leads to a higher likelihood of outperformance and that’s great news for Canada.

“Within Agilus, we have also seen an increase in diversity on our team with BIPOC employees representing the majority for the first time,” states Craig Brown CEO, Agilus Work Solutions. “This diversity of voice, thought and lived experience has contributed to a strong first quarter for us in connecting talent and organizations.”

We understand that navigating the new world of work within a candidate-driven market can be an extra-heavy workload for many company’s existing hiring teams. We’re helping hundreds of organizations across all industries and skill sets through a variety of custom hiring solutions. Contact our team today to learn how we can support your business’ employment needs. In the meantime, want to learn more about what your company can do to attract workers during this tight labour market? Download The Talent Squeeze and The Future of Work white papers here.

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