Indigenous people have been historically underrepresented in the technology industry and many other sectors in British Columbia (B.C.), Canada. Adding to growing research on the topic, a recent report by the First Nations Technology Council (FNTC) titled ‘Indigenous Leadership in Technology: Understanding Access and Opportunities in BC (ILIT)’ sheds light on the current state of Indigenous representation in the industry and calls to address systemic barriers.
“Our research was guided by Indigenous knowledge, values, and ways of being to ensure the findings were reflective and representative of many diverse experiences across the province.”
– Lauren Kelly, Director of Sector Transformation at the FNTC
The FNTC report, published in March 2022, examines the opportunities and constraints in the labour market, the skills development gap, and the perceptions of Indigenous employment and training across all technology sectors of the B.C. economy, both from an Indigenous perspective and from the perspective of the technology industry.
FNTC Report Findings on Indigenous Representation
According to the report, only 1.8% of the B.C. technology sector’s workforce identifies as Indigenous, which is significantly lower than the Indigenous population’s representation in the province (over 5%). The report also highlights the lack of Indigenous leadership in the industry, with only 0.8% of tech companies including Indigenous representation on their board of directors.
Moreover, the report identifies several systemic barriers faced by Indigenous people in the tech industry. These include:
- Lack of access to education and training opportunities;
- Lack of understanding of Indigenous culture and history among non-Indigenous industry leaders; and
- Discrimination and bias in hiring processes.
Overall, the report highlights the need for greater efforts to address systemic barriers and increase Indigenous representation in the BC tech sector.
Addressing Indigenous Representation
To address these barriers, the report calls for several actions, including creating more training and education programs specifically designed for Indigenous people. The report also calls for more support for Indigenous entrepreneurs and tech startups and more efforts to increase Indigenous representation on company boards.
“A further consequence of the exclusion of Indigenous leadership in innovation and technology is the significant lack of appropriate technology and innovation investments, resources, and supports.”
– FNTC Report, March 2022
The report’s authors also emphasize the importance of building relationships and partnerships between Indigenous communities and the tech industry. They recommend the creation of a council or task force to promote collaboration and dialogue between Indigenous leaders and industry stakeholders.
By acting on these recommendations, B.C.’s tech industry will create a more diverse and inclusive workforce and also benefit from the unique perspectives and experiences that Indigenous people bring to the table.
Canadian Government Funding Support for Creating Inclusive Workplaces
Canadian government funding supports a variety of projects, such as hiring and training, business expansion, or research, in every industry from agriculture to non-profit to automotive, in communities all around the country.
To create inclusive workplaces including supporting more Indigenous representation, active programs such as the NOHFC People & Talent Program can provide up to 50-90% of employee wages for municipalities, Indigenous communities, and not-for-profit organizations to hire an Indigenous person for an internship position.
Learn more about funding programs that support Canadian businesses to improve their inclusivity by signing up for our free weekly funding newsletter. You’ll receive updates on grant, loan, and tax credit opportunities for businesses across Canada.