TRC 92: Youth Employment – The Business Case

Submitted by WPRC on September 12, 2017 - 1:25am

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report (TRC) and its 94 Calls to Action released in 2015, provides a road map for increased economic opportunities for Indigenous people in Canada. In Call to Action #92 titled ‘Business and Reconciliation’, corporations are called upon to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), including equitable access to jobs and training, and education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples. 

Economic reconciliation is essential for Indigenous peoples to move toward equity with other population groups in Canada on numerous scales of well-being. It includes:

  • Employment opportunities
  • Workplace education about Indigenous experience and intercultural safety
  • Purchasing from Indigenous businesses
  • Doing business with Indigenous partners
  • Conducting meaningful engagement, consultation accommodation and/or mitigation.[1]

Many businesses acknowledge that adopting these measures is not only the right thing to do but is also an investment in their success. Benefits to businesses include: a new and growing talent pool and customer base; long-term reliable business partners; local employees, suppliers and contractors; development of new and innovative services and products; and greater operational stability. [2]

A diverse workforce in general results in stronger stakeholder relationships and better decision-making. In addition, future labour shortages due to baby boomer retirements can be addressed to a large extent by employing more Indigenous people.[3]

There has been recognition for years that gender and ethnic diversity in leadership roles within companies is advantageous to the bottom line. The Canadian Securities Administrators require companies to report on numbers of women in board seats and how companies plan to enhance representation by women. But Indigenous representation has rarely been included in these discussions. Only 0.6% of board seats in the 2016 Financial Post’s top-ranked 500 companies were held by Indigenous people. If the representation were in line with the percentage of Indigenous people in the population, that number would be 4.3%.[4]

The Canadian economy as a whole stands to gain significantly from increased Indigenous participation. If the unemployment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people were bridged, there would be an additional $6.9 billion in employment income annually in Canada, and $957 million in Manitoba. Closing the gap would result in an increase in the budgets of all governments in Canada by an estimated $8.4 billion annually. [5]

Many Indigenous youth, as expressed in conversations with the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council, are eager for jobs and have high aspirations for the stability that employment can provide for themselves and their families and ultimately the broader community.

So the benefits are clear, but the road to get there is currently one of discovery and will require recognizing and addressing barriers that often impede Indigenous employment opportunities.

TRC92: Youth Employment is an initiative of the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council aimed at engaging Winnipeg companies to provide work opportunities for Indigenous youth and incorporate education about Indigenous realities and intercultural safety within their workplaces. TRC92: Youth Employment is guided by TRC Call to Action #92 and is grounded in principles such as: broad and on-going consultation with, and involvement of, Indigenous leaders and youth; continuous learning and adaptation; multi-sector collaboration;  and systemic improvements to ensure large-scale and lasting change.

The WPRC has learned that significant numbers of corporations in Winnipeg understand these critical issues. Through TRC92: Youth Employment ten private-sector companies have now committed to putting words into action, learning together as they go, and building on and sharing successes.

There is much to learn and change will happen slowly, but in the end everyone benefits.

[1] TD Economics; the Long and Winding Road Towards Aboriginal Economic Prosperity, 2015

[2] Business and Reconciliation: How can Investors evaluate the efforts of Canadian public companies – Shareholder Association for Research and Education, 2017

[3] TD Economics; the Long and Winding Road Towards Aboriginal Economic Prosperity, 2015

[4] Business and Reconciliation: How can Investors evaluate the efforts of Canadian public companies – Shareholder Association for Research and Education, 2017

[5] National Aboriginal Economic Development Board, 2016

 

This blog was originally posted on the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council (WPRC) website on September 5, 2017, and is re-posted here with permission.