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Our renewed commitment to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion

September 29, 2020

As a coalition, Opportunity For All Youth recognizes that while talent is distributed equally, opportunity is not. Our coalition is dedicated to making early work opportunities easily accessible to youth who experience barriers to employment. It is impossible for us to do this work meaningfully without reckoning with the very real experiences of racism that young persons of colour face both when looking for work and implicit bias within the workplace.

It is our responsibility to do more. To do better. 

Statistics show that systemic barriers and hiring practices favour some individuals but leave others behind. In the employment sector for example, the unemployment rate for racialized youth is significantly higher than for white Canadians: 32.3 per cent compared to 18 per cent.

Now is the time to approach these issues with a renewed energy toward bold action and investment. 

Over the past several months, Opportunity for All Youth  has engaged in a series of activities with youth, with our partners in the workforce development sector, and with employers. Though we have more work to do, a roadmap is emerging. In addition to the initiatives each of our organizations is undertaking to address racism, as a collective, we commit to the following:

  1. We will explore new ways to hire youth that go beyond the traditional interview format, given that the current methods do not always effectively showcase their talent and potential. 
  2. We will partner with organizations that specifically support youth from marginalized communities. 
  3. Knowing that social capital, access and networking skills are key barriers to employment for racialized youth, we will pilot activities designed by youth for youth to build and practise networking and other essential skills critical to success.
  4. We will assemble a Youth Innovation Council that is representative of racialized communities, and design a fair compensation package for those youth advisors that supports bridging the opportunity divide. 
  5. We will ensure that the employers with whom we engage are equally reflective of the diversity, equity and inclusion that we aim to achieve for a positive youth employment experience.

We approach this work with humility, openness to dialogue, willingness to change and a commitment to taking action. We know we will make mistakes along the way, but we promise to listen and to learn. Expect to hear more from us as we move forward.

Levelling the playing field for youth entering the workforce is within our control. As employers and leaders, it is our duty to confront the systemic barriers inherent within the labour market which make it difficult for racialized youth to thrive. We encourage employers across Canada to join us as we collectively work to close the opportunity divide in Canada and help create better youth futures.

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