The Canadian digital marketing and tech industries, at the present moment, have not yet achieved true diversity when it comes to Indigenous representation within the workforce. There is a very obvious disparity between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous peoples within the two industries, which ultimately leads to ongoing imbalances within the stories and over-arching voices that dominate both industries. It is crucial that Indigenous prosperity, for both individual professionals and businesses as a whole, is prioritized within the Canadian tech and digital industries in order to achieve true diversity. Digital industries are founded and thrive upon what story is being told and by who, and if only certain populations have the opportunity to share their voice, the overall industry is flawed.
“In Canada, Indigenous peoples are vastly underrepresented within the tech industry – the percentage of whom are working in tech is 2.2% compared to non-Indigenous identities at 5.2%.”
In Canada, Indigenous peoples are vastly underrepresented within the tech industry – the percentage of whom are working in tech is 2.2% compared to non-Indigenous identities at 5.2%. In an industry that is rapidly growing and increasingly in need of expanding the workforce, it is crucial that there is diversity within these shifts. LinkedIn reported a 63% growth in marketing roles over a 6 month period in 2021 as well as 17K remote marketing job postings within the year of 2021 – a massive increase over a few short years. If the industry is growing, it is important to ensure the representation of Indigenous professionals only increases as the industry expands to ensure a more diverse workforce.
What leads to a lack of diversity within a given industry is typically due to pre-existing and systemic inequalities that are ongoing to this day. One factor that has affected Indigenous identities within Canada based on these ongoing inequalities is education and the support to join New Collar careers. In the case of the tech and digital industries, education is a key steppingstone to enter and thrive within the workforce, and is often one of the starting stages for inequality. Denise Williams, CEO of First Nations Technology Council, reported that 75% of Indigenous people within B.C. don’t have reliable internet access – pointing to the fact that digital careers and education are not given the same support from the government to Indigenous peoples versus non-Indigenous identities.
By starting at a place of this inequality, students and professionals are already at a disadvantage compared to other communities where the growth of tech sectors is, unfairly, given priority. With this in mind, a way to remedy this disparity and lack of diversity would be by visiting the root of the issue and existing inequalities.
“For businesses and organizations already established in tech and digital, there is a lot of room to prioritize the amplification of Indigenous professionals and businesses.”
For businesses and organizations already established in tech and digital, there is a lot of room to prioritize the amplification of Indigenous professionals and businesses. Some of the opportunities available for established businesses would be to remove barriers throughout all stages of the career process – for example, access to education is often the first barrier, as mentioned above. Businesses and organizations can provide opportunities such as scholarships and funding for education and career focused training for Indigenous professionals and businesses to make growth opportunities more accessible.
For digital marketing specifically, micro credentials and rapid re-skilling are key ways to thrive in the industry, which is why it is beneficial to offer funding and scholarship options specifically for Indigenous peoples in order to amplify their voices and increase representation within the industry. Alongside barriers to access education there has also been the physical equipment needed to excel within digital industries. This is why Jelly Academy, a digital marketing bootcamp, has partnered with Indigenous and Métis organizations to provide scholarships to Indigenous businesses and professionals, as well as with Best Buy to supply the tech supplies needed to enter the program.
“Skills-focused and resource-focused access will create lasting impact and play a more immediate role in reinforcing Indigenous prosperity.”
This step of offering funding, or scholarships is an incredibly useful way to play a more integral role in career development versus making an undefined donation. Skills-focused and resource-focused access will create lasting impact and play a more immediate role in reinforcing Indigenous prosperity. As a business or organization, evaluate what you specialize in and then identify how you can turn this into a service to offer to people to expand their career. For example, seminars or events that will provide career-ready tools, would be great ways to encourage growth.
While there is an obligation for existing businesses to create more equal opportunities for Indigenous peoples by way of funding, scholarships, hiring, and other services the given business may specialize in – it is a responsibility of the full workforce to increase diversity. Canada as a whole should expand funding opportunities and access on a much larger scale for Indigenous professionals and businesses, and really prioritize the growth of Indigenous businesses.