Canadian Underwriter

Some brokers say they face workplace discrimination

April 8, 2022   by Philip Porado

Stressed employee intern suffering from gender discrimination or unfair criticism.

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Canada likes to see itself as a leader in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). And while it may be ahead of certain countries, some Canadian brokerage industry employees said they have faced various forms of workplace discrimination.

A late 2021 Canadian Underwriter online survey, made possible with the support of Sovereign Insurance, found 26% of brokers reported feeling disengaged at work ‘at least sometimes’ as a result of experiencing some form of workplace discrimination.

The survey also found a higher percentage (33%) of those who work in organizations that have no diversity within their senior leadership reporting being less engaged. The survey defined that as ‘not doing their jobs to full capacity.’

While there is no difference in how people answered based on minority status, 30% of women report disengagement due to discrimination, as opposed to 20% of men.

Interestingly, brokers at organizations with fully diverse senior leadership reported experiencing unfair, negative or adverse treatment at about half the rate (12%) of those in organizations with no diversity in leadership (23%).

About a quarter (27%) of brokers said they feel overlooked for promotions.

Although 14% of respondents said they believe their career prospects are negatively impacted due to identity, the numbers are notably similar for minorities as non-minorities. The percentages are a bit higher for women (17%) versus men (9%), and boomers (22%) versus 12% for both millennials and members of Generation X.

Boomers, depending on how the category is defined, are roughly 57-75 years of age as of 2022, while millennials are grouped as ages 22-40 and Generation X is understood to be about 41-56

“I am starting to find that age is becoming a discriminating factor,” said one Gen X female respondent. “The company is more interested in younger new talent than experience – when both should be equally important.”

Fully 24% of brokers reported feeling unseen or misunderstood in the workplace. The numbers are somewhat higher among those without diverse senior leadership at 30%. They’re also higher among women (31%) than men (17%).


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