Two of Canada's largest banks pledge racial equity audits

Both announcements came after meetings with unions and advocacy groups

Two of Canada's largest banks pledge racial equity audits

Amid sustained shareholder pressure, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and Bank of Montreal (BMO) have announced that they will be launching racial equity audits.

Late last week, RBC said that it will be conducting an assessment of its employment practices through a third-party auditor in 2024, and another audit on business practices the year after.

“We remain focused on identifying and helping to address barriers that can impede the success of Black, Indigenous, and other racialized groups,” RBC spokesman Jeff Lanthier told The Canadian Press via email.

BMO also announced that it will be undergoing similar internal evaluations.

“BMO is committed to equity, equality and inclusion through BMO’s Zero Barriers to Inclusion Strategy and we will be conducting a third-party racial equity audit,” according to spokeswoman Kate Simandl.

Both announcements came after meetings with the British Columbia General Employees’ Union and shareholder advocacy group SHARE.

“We look forward to updating our shareholders on our progress in 2024 and we appreciate SHARE’s engagement with us on this topic,” Simandl said.

CIBC and National Bank said earlier this year that they will be conducting their own equity audits, while TD Bank pledged the same in 2022, although it has not yet released its results.

Minorities disproportionally affected by housing costs, StatCan says

A study by Statistics Canada earlier this year found that Black Canadians and South Asians are the most affected by the elevated costs of housing in Canada.

Seventy-four per cent (74%) of Black Canadians said that they are “very concerned” about the state of housing affordability, along with 65% of South Asians.

On the other end of the spectrum, non-racialized and non-Indigenous people reported the least concern (38%) over housing prices.

“When asked whether rising prices influenced their decision to move within the past six months, over four in 10 Filipino (48%), South Asian (41%), and Black (40%) people agreed that it had, compared with slightly over one in five non-racialized, non-Indigenous individuals (21%),” StatCan said.