New study examines why unemployment for South Asian women is almost double the national average

RESEARCH indicates South Asian women have the highest unemployment rate in Canada and now a new study is trying to determine why. South Asian women have almost double the national unemployment rate (20.4 per cent compared to 11.3 per cent). They are also more likely to be underemployed and underpaid compared to their non-visible minority counterparts, despite the fact that they are amongst the most educated population group in Canada.

Now, a new study is looking to identify the barriers that prevent South Asian women from fully realizing their potential as well as ways they can contribute value to the Canadian economy if given the same support and opportunities as the general population.

The study is being conducted by CulturaliQ in partnership with Pink Attitude, the first non-profit organization of its kind in Canada where women of South Asian heritage are empowered to achieve their full potential in their chosen endeavors. It consists of a qualitative component, including interviews with employers, employees and community leaders for South Asian women and will be followed by quantitative online surveys.

This research, supported by several top organizations across Canada, including TD, Deloitte, NATIONAL Public Relations, Sephora, City of Brampton, APMA, EY, Scotiabank and IGM Financial, expects to release final results in October, as part of Women’s History Month.

The current national unemployment rate disguises the significant variation across population groups, especially South Asian women. This is despite the fact that South Asians are the single largest visible minority group in Canada, comprising 26 per cent of the total racialized population here. According to the latest Canadian Census, there are almost two million South Asians in Canada.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many part-time and minimum wage jobs, primarily in the food sector, were eliminated. Women, in particular South Asian women, held a majority of these jobs, resulting in a large increase in unemployment.

“Our goal is to find new opportunities for South Asian women in the Canadian workforce and guide employers to make better informed decisions,” says Ruby Dhillon, CEO and Founder of Pink Attitude Evolution.

South Asian women have the potential to contribute to Canadian STEM and non-STEM business opportunities. With Canada beginning to take actions to unfold its economic recovery plan, South Asian women have the potential to contribute to Canada’s growing economy. We believe this study will support Pink Attitude Evolution in creating systemic change for South Asian women and other New Canadians and are proud to be associated with the initiative, says John Stevenson, Founding Partner, CulturaliQ.