Canada a world leader in workplace and school diversity but Quebec lags behind, new study reveals

Steve Mertl
Daily Brew

Almost three-quarters of Canadians work or go to school in a diverse, multicultural background, which puts them among the world leaders in tolerance, says the Association for Canadian Studies.

A massive four-country study done for the organization found that people who work or learn in a diverse environment are more open to people from other cultures, Postmedia News reported Wednesday.

Diverse workplaces and schools translate to more openness in other areas of life, such as choosing friends and neighbourhoods where you live, according to the study that looked at Canada, the United States, Britain and France.

"Canadians are stacking up as the country that has the most diverse workplaces," said Jack Jedwab, association executive director.

But the study found Quebec had among the least diverse workplaces in Canada, he added. While 73 per cent of Canadians surveyed in the study described their workplace or school as diverse, only 60 per cent of Quebecers said they worked in a multicultural environment.

Seventy per cent of Americans surveyed in the study said their work or school environments were diverse, compared with 68 per cent of Britons and 67 per cent of French respondents, Postmedia reported.

Jedwab said the Quebec figure reflects the fact most of the province's immigrants live in Montreal, which in turn attracts fewer immigrants than Toronto and Montreal. Quebec also has a smaller proportion of cultural minorities in its public sector than other provinces, he said.

Eight out of 10 francophones said most of their friends were from the same cultural background, compared with 66 per cent of anglophone Canadians and 55 per cent of those who speak something other than English or French.

The study also recorded a generational shift, Jedwab said, with 80 per cent of Canadians aged 18-24 describing their school or workplace as diverse, compared with about 75 per cent of older age groups.

The figures are lower for francophones - 70 per cent for 18-24-year-olds, 50 per cent for those aged 25-34 and about 40 per cent for older groups.

"There are considerable differences between these younger cohorts and their exposure to diversity through the workplace or schools and the older cohorts," Jedwab said.

"Going forward, as our workplace milieu and schools will become more diverse, it will likely generate more openness to difference."

The Canadian component of the study was done by Leger Marketing, which surveyed 2,345 people online last September and October, with a margin of error of two per cent, 19 times out of 20.

A list of Canada's most best diversity employers can be found here.