DiManno: Why can’t we say ‘woman’ anymore?

Some silliness going on that DiManno highlights:

“You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Person with a Vagina.”

“Man! I Feel Like a Person who Menstruates

“Oh, Pretty Person with a Cervix”

Apologies to Aretha Franklin, Shania Twain and Roy Orbison, but this appears to be where we’re heading if language radicals get their way.

And they’re getting it, tying everybody up in linguistic knots so as not to offend or get clobbered by the social media mob.

The inclusive objective is worthy.

The erasure of women is not.

“Woman” is in danger of becoming a dirty word … struck from the lexicon of officialdom, eradicated from medical vocabulary and expunged from conversation.

Which is a bitchy thing to do to half the world’s population.

It shouldn’t leave well-meaning people tongue-tied, lest they be attacked as transphobic or otherwise insensitive to the increasingly complex constructs of gender. 

“The Lancet,” the prestigious and highly influential British medical journal, put “Bodies with Vaginas” on the cover of its latest issue, referring to an article inside, entitled “Periods on Display,” a review of an exhibit about the history of menstruation at the Vagina Museum in London.

Maybe the editors, who tweeted the piece, were just looking for clickbait, with a pullquote on the cover teasing that “Historically, the anatomy and physiology of such bodies have been neglected” — this although the author had used the phrase “bodies with vaginas,” only once and “women” four times. 

A hell-storm broke out, quite rightly, with readers indignant over the wording. As one, an author of books on childbirth and women’s bodies, wrote: “You’re telling us that you’ve noticed that, for hundreds of years, you’ve neglected and overlooked women, and, then, in the same breath, you are unable to name those people you’ve been ignoring.”

The magazine’s editor-in-chief apologized hastily. 

This isn’t an argument against gender self-identification. Surely we’re well past that. It’s more about an infelicitous evolution of language, which is fundamentally about communicating clearly. Even if making the argument ends up aligning uncomfortably with reactionaries and regressives with whom I have no truck. 

In one fell swoop, “The Lancet” — remember, this is a medical publication! — reduced womanhood, biological or metaphysical, to purely anatomical parts, a gross reversal of the century-long campaign to, not only achieve equal rights, but for women to be seen as more than their biological and rampantly objectified, sexualized packaging. This is fundamental to feminism and humanism. Further, we are seeing, in, for example, legislation passed or coming down the pike in U.S. to severely restrict abortions, basically undoing Roe vs. Wade, how fragile these gains can be. 

“That Lancet” episode was not an over-woke outlier. 

The American Civil Liberties Union took detestable liberties by deliberately mauling the words of beloved and brilliant Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in marking the one-year anniversary of her death. Reaching back to comments Ginsburg made during her confirmation hearings in 1980, wherein she spoke about the right of women to obtain an abortion, the ACLU unilaterally removed “woman,” replacing it with “person.”

It came out thusly: “The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a (person’s) life, to (their) wellbeing and dignity …. When the government controls that decision for (people), (they are) being treated as less than a fully adult human and responsible for (their) own choices.” 

Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, also subsequently issued a grovelling mea culpa, promising he’d never again drastically alter quotes in the future.

But is that really a lesson that needed to be pounded into his head? 

And still Romero tried to justify his interference by claiming that Ginsburg would have supported more inclusive language.

Maybe so. I would really like to know what she might have thought. But we don’t and can’t and it’s outrageous for anyone to mishmash the justice’s voice.

Women have abortions. Or, I suppose, in the tiniest of numbers, people born with female genitals who identify as male or fluid can terminate a pregnancy.

Women have babies. Or, in the tiniest of numbers, people born with female genitals who identify as male or fluid, can get pregnant. 

Yet in 2016, the British Medical Association recommended staff use “pregnant people,” instead of pregnant women. A British hospital now instructs staff on its maternity ward to use “birthing people,” instead of pregnant women. The Biden administration’s proposed 2022 budget substituted “birth people” for mothers. Rep. Cori Bush has used that term, while her Congressional Squad teammate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has talked of “menstruating people.”

These are women I admire but they’ve jumped the shark. 

All of this recalls the point bestselling author J.K. Rowling was trying to make, wryly, in a tweet that got her bludgeoned by the mob: “People who menstruate. I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” 

Rowling was branded a TERF — activists do like their neologisms — meaning trans exclusionary radical feminist. As if she was hostile to the trans movement, which she assuredly is not. Some bookstores removed her work from their shelves. Were she not a gazillion-selling author, Rowling could have lost her publisher.

In Britain, where roughly 680,000 people do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, according to government figures, midwives at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals were told to start using terms such as “chest milk,” instead of breast milk. This, apparently, because some transgender men who give birth and nurse their babies were distressed at being reminded of what they were doing with those lactating female appendages. Although surely “breast” is a gender-neutral term, as both sexes have them and both can develop breast cancer. 

This is all directly a phenomenon resulting from trans activism run amok.

I get the passion for recasting language, to improve gender and LGBT equity, to minimize the “cognitive mental salience” of males. 

The movement has been spectacularly successful in the progressive West, although English isn’t as heavily gendered as, say, Italian or French. Truly, props for an undertaking that has given voice and power to a demographic historically oppressed, horribly shaped and disproportionately subjected to violence!

Merriam-Webster was the first dictionary to add gender-neutral pronouns “they” and “themself” to refer to a person whose “gender identity is non-binary.” 

But these examples go far beyond insistence on neutral pronouns, into an outer orbit of linguistics where both women, as a gender, and “woman” as a noun are being blotted out. 

There’s more than a whiff of misogyny to it. Why “woman” the no-speak word and not “man?” Why not “persons who urinate standing up” or “people who eject semen?” 

Certainly there are words — they are slurs mostly — that are no longer acceptable. “Woman” shouldn’t be one of them. 

The battleground of language has turned into a baffleground of agendas. 

I am woman and I am roaring.

Source: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/star-columnists/2021/10/15/why-cant-we-say-woman-anymore.html

Khan: Why would we ever believe that the Taliban will now be kinder to women?

Indeed:

The Taliban have promised a “kinder, gentler” approach after the fall of Kabul – vowing to be more inclusive and humane following the defeat of the internationally-backed Afghan government.

The world must not fall for this charm offensive.

Thus far, the interim government has no women, nor any representation from the ethnic Hazara minority; the cabinet is formed entirely by Taliban members; on Sunday, Kabul’s Taliban-appointed mayor told the city government’s female employees to stay home. The ministry of women’s affairs has been eliminated, cutting off vital services for women. In addition, peaceful protests have been met with arbitrary detention, live ammunition, batons and whips, according to the United Nations. The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, the country’s constitutionally enshrined watchdog, has been unable to fulfill its duties after the Taliban’s forces occupied its buildings.

On Aug. 25, the government issued a “temporary” policy requiring all Afghan women to stay at home until its fighters could be trained to respect women. Imagine having 20 years to build an army, but failing to instill basic respect for women during that time, and having no shame in admitting so. As a result, Muslim women in Afghanistan are effectively being told to fear for their safety from Muslim men, their so-called “brothers” in faith. This should be condemned throughout the Muslim world.

Many don’t believe this is a temporary order. Humaira Rasuli – a human-rights lawyer who is the founder and executive director of the Kabul-based Women for Justice Organization (WJO) – remembers that in 1996, the Taliban declared that they weren’t against education or work for women, but that they needed more time to ensure their safety. But while the prohibition of women from the workplace never did lift before the government fell in 2001, women who were the sole providers for their families were relegated to poverty during that time; some were forced to beg on the streets. Little wonder Ms. Rasuli is convinced that the Taliban intends to suppress the advances made by women over the past two decades.

Ms. Rasuli herself serves a case in point. Her organization is crucial for the functioning of civil society: providing robust legal representation, raising the next generation of lawyer leaders and strengthening government institutions. The WJO spearheaded forums for leaders to contribute to law and policy reform proposals on criminal procedures, sexual harassment laws and policies and edicts demanding virginity testing. But their office was raided by Taliban fighters during their first morning of rule. The staff has since been forced into hiding, destroying documents overnight. Three staff members, including Ms. Rasuli, had to flee Afghanistan; others are in hiding in Kabul.

But over the past two weeks, despite the chaos and challenging personal circumstances, the WJO has managed to re-group with a new strategy. Having overcome corruption, conflict and endless challenges in Afghanistan in recent years, it is determined not to give up.

Taliban militants, says Ms. Rasuli, have usurped and are monopolizing interpretations of sharia, or Islamic law, co-opting it for their political ideology around female erasure. IS and al-Qaeda factions, which are rooted in similar ideologies but have veered in even more extreme directions, have rapidly proliferated too, making the threat all the more urgent. So the WJO has worked to form a coalition of Afghan law and sharia experts to push back on such interpretations, while equipping young leaders and civil-society activists with the language and concepts they need to contest them.

They are not hopeful that the Taliban will be receptive to a more gender-equal interpretation of sharia, but they will try – and at least, as a matter of principle, they have vowed not to allow extremist ideas to harden into unquestioned consensus. Even amidst the enormous challenges, they remain committed to the long-term goal of an inclusive government elected through free and fair voting, and to the preservation of key legal structures that safeguard the fundamental human rights of all Afghans, especially women and minority groups.

If only the world showed the same resolve.

“I am calling on the international community and the world to eliminate terrorism in Afghanistan,” said Ms. Rasuli, speaking to me from a military camp in the U.S. following her evacuation from Afghanistan. “So many people have died in this war, so many left injured, so many people displaced internally, so much grief and suffering and now, Afghanistan has been entirely abandoned. Please, for the sake of innocent civilians, support us. We have sacrificed our work, home, families and basic rights to bring peace to Afghanistan. We have built Afghanistan with our own hands. It is enraging and disappointing to see it used as a battleground for warring nations. Neither peace has come to Afghanistan, nor our rights have been protected. I am really disappointed by the silence of the international community.”

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-why-would-we-ever-believe-that-the-taliban-will-now-be-kinder-to-women/

Trichur: Microaggressions in the workplace cause more than bruised feelings. They also create business risks

Of note. While with respect to gender, applies more broadly:

Every workplace has at least one.

That guy who excels at preening, politicking and pushing women to the sidelines: Mr. Microaggression. He is a master of subtle slights and snubs.

Microaggressions are everyday comments or actions that trample the dignity of women but also visible minorities and other equity-seeking groups. Intentional or not, these acts of bias or discrimination cause great harm.

Human resources experts say such behaviours taint workplace cultures. And in the post-#MeToo era, these routine acts of exclusion, which are too often dismissed by managers, are creating legal, regulatory and reputational risks for companies.

“In our globalized world, overt racism, sexism and other prejudices are officially unacceptable – which unquestionably marks progress – but bias still finds expression in aversive or avoidant behaviour,” states a human resources guide prepared for UKG Inc. by Vancouver-based Parris Consulting.

“Where outright violence and oppression were once rampant, prejudice expresses itself more subtly now – in the form of microaggressions.”

Sure, some colleagues deserve the benefit of the doubt if they commit a faux pas or make a clumsy remark at work. But well-meaning folks generally have the reflex to acknowledge and apologize for hurtful behaviour.

Mr. Microaggression, however, undermines his colleagues with impunity. And make no mistake, everyone in your organization knows it.

Although he is not shy about showing disdain for certain male co-workers, women – especially those who are junior to him in age, rank or tenure – make up the majority of his targets because they are less likely to fight back.

He is, of course, smart enough not to say or do anything overtly sexist. After all, plausible deniability is pivotal to his pretense of professionalism.

Instead, his behaviour is less conspicuous: leaving female colleagues off e-mails, interrupting them during meetings, passing off his grunt work, going over their heads to snatch away plum assignments, commandeering internal committee work or elbowing them out of high-profile presentations to top bosses.

Some women are also guilty of flexing their privilege by perpetrating microaggressions against their colleagues. Whether it is on the basis of race, sexual orientation, disability or some other difference, such comments or actions amount to an abuse of power because they have the effect of discrediting their intended targets.

“Even if the slights are ignored or minimized, the work environment may still be chilly,” the human resources guide states. “It’s hard to feel collegial toward people who commit microaggressions. It’s uncomfortable pretending everything is okay when it’s not.”

Equally frustrating is the inaction of managers who chalk up such incidents to misunderstandings, coincidences or personality quirks. Perhaps the biggest mistake they make is appearing more concerned about placating the perpetrators instead of doing right by employees who have suffered repeated indignities.

Diversity and inclusion have become buzz words in corporate Canada. But business leaders who wilfully ignore systemic discrimination in their workplaces, including by downplaying the harmfulness of microaggressions, will experience higher turnover of top talent and expose their companies to legal and regulatory problems.

Microaggressions aren’t just about bruised feelings – they also create business risks.

Global banking regulators, for instance, are increasing their scrutiny of culture and conduct risks after being urged to do so by the Financial Stability Board, an international body that makes recommendations to improve stability of the global financial system.

In Canada, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), for instance, is continuing its “work on advancing culture as a key area of focus” in its supervision of financial institutions.

OSFI has wrapped up its initial cultural reviews of banks and insurance companies, spokeswoman Carole Saindon said in an e-mailed statement. Those introductory assessments specifically probed how cultural factors affect “strategic decision making” inside financial institutions.

“These reviews have provided insights into behavioural indicators such as transparency and communication, diversity of thought, ability to provide challenge and reflective learning,” Ms. Saindon said.

Of course, microaggressions are just one facet of a problematic corporate culture. It also clear that culture and conduct risks affect more than just banks and insurers. Recent scandals involving technology, entertainment or natural-resources companies also highlight the link between human behaviour, social mores and excessive risk-taking.

That’s precisely why, as a starting point, business leaders across all sectors must be pro-active about educating their employees about microaggressions and how to respond to them.

“It’s critical to understand the current thinking on microaggressions – how they are (or should be) defined, how they may cause harm, how and why they should be called out, and what critics have to say about them,” the human resources guide adds.

“This last point is crucial because organizations and HR professionals need to make decisions about employee relations. If an accusation of committing a microaggression is levelled, they will need to understand it from all sides.”

Still, the onus shouldn’t be on women and minorities to solve the systemic discrimination they face at work. That’s the responsibility of business leaders and HR departments.

The #MeToo movement should have been a wake-up call for the business community that microaggressions can signal much deeper problems with corporate cultures. In fact, there’s even a microaggression app for women in the workplace, Variety reported earlier this year.

Managers need to stop coddling toxic employees. Mr. Microaggression isn’t misunderstood by his coworkers, he’s a menace to your company. Time to keep him in check.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-microaggressions-in-the-workplace-cause-more-than-bruised-feelings/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=Morning%20Update&utm_content=2021-9-9_7&utm_term=Morning%20Update:%20Leaders%20square%20off%20over%20child%20care,%20federal%20spending,%20in%20first%20official%20French-language%20debate&utm_campaign=newsletter&cu_id=%2BTx9qGuxCF9REU6kNldjGJtpVUGIVB3Y

ICYMI: Women in executive roles make 56 per cent less than men, study shows

Of interest:

Women executives earned about 56 per cent less on average than men executives and this pay gap widened even further for racialized women, who earned about 32 per cent less than non-visible minority women, according to a new study from Statistics Canada that underscores the sweeping disparities in Corporate Canada.

Translated into dollar figures, there was a $600,000 difference between the average woman executive’s income ($495,600) and the average executive man’s ($1.1-million). The average compensation for visible minority women was $347,100, while visible minority men took home $681,900.

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The research included data from the Corporations Returns Act, which collects financial and ownership information on mid-size to large corporations, and census information from 2016.

In unpacking the gender divide at the most senior levels, researchers looked at marital status, number of children, education, backgrounds, sector of work, job title and professional networks.

One of the study’s most shocking findings concerned the number of racialized women in executive roles. There were so few Indigenous executives – both men and women – that Statistics Canada was limited in what could be reported over concerns about violating the individuals’ privacy. About 1 per cent of executives were Indigenous, although this group represents about 4 per cent of the working population. Most of the women Indigenous executives worked at large corporations.

Over all, about one in 10 women executives identified as a visible minority. The most common groups represented were South Asian and Chinese, with fewer executives being Black and Filipino.

Paulette Senior, the president and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, said the report’s findings were extremely concerning.

“It’s worse than I thought,” she said. “This makes me wonder what have we been doing? What have decision makers been doing in addressing [these issues] – whether it’s a leaky pipeline, or who is sitting at tables during hiring. What has been going on that this is the picture in 2021?”

Statistics Canada’s findings are in keeping with an analysis that The Globe and Mail conducted as part of its Power Gap investigation, which has been examining gender inequities in the modern work force. The series found that among women in the top 1 per cent of earners, just 3 per cent were racialized. In general, women were found to be outnumbered, outranked and out-earned by almost every measure examined.

Elizabeth Richards, who co-authored the Statistics Canada paper, said one of the most intriguing findings concerned companies that operate in Canada but are American owned. The researchers found that visible minority women were five times more likely than non-visible minority women to work at one of these American-controlled companies. The same trend – to a lesser degree – was also found with visible minority men, she said.

“That’s a key takeaway,” Ms. Richards said. “That to me says there’s some more country-specific influences that maybe we don’t fully understand and we should dig into further in future research.”

The analysts also examined the family status of the executives. Women were less likely to be in a relationship – about 80 per cent of women executives were married or in a common-law relationship, compared with 90 per cent of men – or to have children. When they did have children, they had fewer of them. About 36 per cent of women executives had two or more children, while about 44 per cent of men did.

The report also found that women executives were, on average, younger than the men – 51 years old compared with 54 years old respectively.

Economist Marina Adshade, an assistant professor with the University of British Columbia, said the finding about age was interesting and perhaps a clue as to the cause of the pay gap. In her own research, she’s found that women are retiring early, perhaps before they can fully reach their potential on the corporate ladder.

Prof. Adshade said that, as a country, the focus has been on keeping women with young children in the work force – which is important – but there hasn’t been enough attention paid to what’s happening at the other end of the career spectrum.

“We are starting to lose women in the work force at 45, 55, 65,” she said. “Why are women leaving the work force? … They have other caregiving responsibilities: caring for parents, spouses, grandchildren, for example. Older women are so undervalued that literally no one wants to think about why they’re not in the work force.”

Prof. Adshade noted that the average age of a senior manager in the federal government is 53, so if women are starting to retire at 45, it’s not surprising they are underrepresented at the top.

Another rationale for the executive wage gap that has been suggested is that women’s networks are smaller. Ms. Richards said that she and her co-author Léa-Maude Longpré-Verret were interested in seeing whether this held true with their dataset – it didn’t.

“There is some previous research that suggests that being connected to more executives leads to higher pay,” Ms. Richards said, “but what we found is that women actually had more extensive networks of colleagues.”

The reason is that women were more likely to sit on large boards with more members. On average, women directors were found to be connected to 7.5 colleagues through their board positions, while men were connected to 6.7 colleagues. Women were also more likely to be connected to other women directors.

Ms. Richards said that in their report, the goal was to quantify the extent of the imbalances in as many ways as possible, but the root causes will be for someone else to explore.

“Hopefully this provides some valuable information for other researchers,” she said. “We wanted to leverage everything that we could from the analysis and share our findings, but it is preliminary and it is exploratory so we would recommend that the academic business community or other researchers continue to really provide more insights in this space.”

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-gender-and-diversity-gaps-persist-in-corporate-canada-new-statistics/

StatCan: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11f0019m/11f0019m2021005-eng.pdf

EU votes for action over Hungary’s anti-LGBT law

Good. Now if Ottawa could show more political courage with respect to Quebec’s breaches of the constitution and charter:

The European Parliament has voted in favour of urgent legal action over Hungary’s new law banning the depiction of homosexuality to under-18s.

The new legislation breached “EU values, principles and law”, MEPs said.

The parliament added that the law was “another intentional and premeditated example of the gradual dismantling of fundamental rights in Hungary”.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban insists school policy is a matter for Hungary, not “Brussels bureaucrats”.

In a resolution passed on Thursday with 459 in favour, 147 against and 58 abstentions, MEPs said the latest developments in Hungary followed a broader pattern of political censorship.

The parliament urged the European Commission to use a new tool that allows the EU to reduce budget allocations to member states in breach of the rule of law, to ensure that the Hungarian government reverse the decision.

It also urged legal action against Hungary’s right-wing nationalist government at the European Court of Justice.

Critics say Hungary’s new law, which came into force on Thursday, equates homosexuality with paedophilia.

“This legislation uses the protection of children as an excuse to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday, calling it “a disgrace”.

“Whatever they do, we will not allow [LGBT] activists into our children’s kindergartens and schools,” Prime Minister Orban responded.

What impact will the new law have?

The new rules introduced by Hungary focus on increasing punishment for convicted paedophiles, but an amendment was passed on 15 June banning the portrayal or promotion of homosexuality among under-18s.

While it could affect sex education and advertising, and even stop TV favourites such as Friends or Harry Potter being broadcast until late at night, there are also fears that vulnerable young people could be deprived of important support.

Teaching sex education in schools will be limited to people approved by the government.

It is not yet clear what the penalties for breaching the law will be.

What other rules has Hungary introduced?

Hungary has introduced a number of similar decisions since Prime Minister Orban took power in 2010.

In December 2020, parliament banned same-sex couples from adopting children.

Earlier the same year, the country passed a law preventing people from legally changing their gender.

Hungary also does not recognise gay marriage.

Mr Orban has been widely criticised in the EU, accused of curbing the rights of migrants and other minorities, politicising the courts and media, and tolerating anti-Semitism. He says he is defending Hungary’s Christian values in a Europe gripped by left-wing liberalism.

Source: EU votes for action over Hungary’s anti-LGBT law

Time for widespread gender-neutral language in federal policy, legislation, say advocates

Of note:

The very act of not being included in government policy is discriminatory, says Estefan Cortes-Vargas, former Alberta MLA, diversity consultant, and one of the first openly non-binary people elected in Canada, referring to the sparse use of gender-neutral language. It’s an issue the federal government says it’s trying to fix, piece by piece.

This area has recently been a focus for the B.C. government, with sweeping changes made to more than 70 laws and regulations in March, replacing 600 clauses with gender-neutral terms.

According to Ravi Kahlon, B.C.’s minister of jobs, economic recovery, and innovation, these changes were made in an effort to increase accessibility.

Sherwin Modeste, executive director of Pride Toronto, praised the changes as very progressive but said it’s something that still needs to be done federally, “because federal legislation carries weight through all the provinces and territories.”

However, the federal justice department told The Hill Times in an email statement that it has been implementing gender-neutral language, albeit in a “piecemeal” fashion.

“Over the years, the practice has evolved with the use of ‘they’ and its other grammatical forms and other drafting techniques in the English version of Acts. New acts are drafted using these techniques. When existing Acts are amended the drafters will, whenever possible, update the wording of the provisions that are being changed to reflect existing drafting conventions,” Justice Canada spokesperson Ian McLeod wrote.

In French, a gendered language, there are grammatical rules that could affect legislative language, he said. The department is studying this area, with the review being undertaken by departmental “jurilinguists.”

“The use of inclusive language acknowledges and values human diversity, and recognizes that individuals have differing experiences, values, beliefs, and lifestyles,” Women and Gender Equality Canada spokesperson Maja Stefanovska said in an email.

While she didn’t specify if they’re being followed, Ms. Stefanovska said the Translation Bureau has linguistic recommendations on inclusive correspondence in French.

While the English side of things generally has gender neutral replacements, like “spouse” for husband and wife, and “they” for he or she, French’s analogues are gendered, said Lee Airton, assistant professor of gender and sexuality studies in education at Queen’s University.

“It is an entirely different process to create gender neutral law and policy in French … it would be much more difficult, but no less necessary,” they said.

Practically speaking, Hélène Frohard-Dourlent, a bilingual senior strategist at gender consulting firm TransFocus, said one possible strategy is adding a dot before the final “e” in a word to indicate both masculine and feminine forms as well as the possibility of other grammatical genders. Another method is to rephrase sentences, they said, like switching “Alex is happy” to “Alex is a happy person” thus preventing happy from being tied to the person’s gender.

“And then, inevitably, if you are committed to neutral or inclusive French, you have to invent some new words and some new endings that are themselves going to be more inclusive,” they said.

The problem with this, Dr. Frohard-Dourlent noted, is that these words have to be socialized to the point where readers will actually understand them.

As for what these terms might look like, Joel Harnest, co-executive director of QMUNITY, an LGBTQ+ resource centre, said that cues should be taken from French-speaking trans folk, who can share the emerging language and phrases.

He also noted that not everything should be gender neutral. While it makes sense for certain words like husband or wife, he said that there is still a need for gender-based language when “you need to specifically call attention to or talk about a certain gender experience.” As an example, he pointed towards policy around gender-based violence.

“If we move too fast to this utopian ideal of a genderless future, we’re not really acknowledging the reality that those people have to live,” Mr. Harnest said.

Overall though, Liana Cusmano, who is interim president of the Green Party and uses they/them pronouns, says they’re receptive to the current approach for changing terminology.

“I think that’s definitely a good place to start, which is to slowly do revisions and then, when drafting new material, to apply the agenda … I don’t think that it would be a good idea to rush,” they said, adding that relying on people practiced in those legislative areas along with consultation with inclusive experts would be the best approach.

Their own party is in the process of implementing gender-neutral language in both English and French. The Liberal Party, according to spokesperson Braeden Caley, also uses gender-inclusive language, with regular policy and document review. The NDP and Conservative Party did not respond to requests for comment on their parties’ approach.

Jade Pichette, Pride at Work Canada’s manager of programs, said that there has been a lot of effort already made to move towards more inclusive language, such as changes to the style guides of the Public Service Alliance Canada—the federal government’s largest public-service union.

“Some of that work has already been done, it’s just being done on a subtle basis, where it isn’t a news story, where it isn’t necessarily picked up in the media, because we use they/them pronouns in our speech naturally,” they said. “We will just read through the document without even considering it.”

But even though some changes may happen without fanfare, they’re still critical according to inclusion experts.

Gender-neutral language has significant benefits, diversity experts say

“The very act of not being included in policy is discriminatory,” Mx. Cortes-Vargas said.

Mx. Pichette pointed towards the need to represent everybody who lives in Canada, including non-binary, agender, and two-spirit people “as a matter of respect but also as recognition of their lives.”

This broader representation, Mx. Airton said, not only has a symbolic impact, but also a practical one in terms of making policy and governance more accurate for the public and professionals. And, if there is no gendered language in a piece of policy, they said, then gender becomes less necessary to think about in a particular context.

“Gender, knowing if someone’s a man or woman, isn’t always relevant and can actually be a distraction because people use their common sense or folk knowledge about what men and women do or want to inform their decision making without realizing what they’re doing.’”

There may even be an impact on employers, Mx. Pichette said, with government stances influencing the polices and procedures of businesses.

According to Vandana Juneja, executive director of Catalyst, a women’s workplace advocacy group, this type of inclusion brings practical benefits to organizations, from enhanced financial performance to improved employee engagement and innovation.

On a more personal level, for Mx. Cortes-Vargas this sort of change would make it easier to navigate systems. For instance, when they go to the bank or fill out forms they have to pick gendered slots.

“They’ll say you have to pick one. And it’s like ‘no, I don’t—this is your problem, this isn’t my problem’ … I can’t go through and just fill out a form without having to negotiate existing in that space,” they said.

The benefit to changing these systems and writing things into policy would be a reduction of barriers, instead of continually having to ask if there’s room for them and having to get exceptions made, they said.

With gender-neutral language, Mx. Cusmano said they feel seen. While it’s difficult to put into words, the impact, they said, is huge and helps to build trust and effective collaboration.

“Gender identity is real to individuals and it has real impacts on their well-being,” they said.

Kai Scott, president of TransFocus, said the pervasive gendering of systems has significant impacts, with this “systemic exclusion” adversely affecting both mental and physical health and causing non-binary people to wonder if they’re important enough to be recognized in official documentation. “And the key thing is that if they have support and they’re affirmed, their social determinants go through the roof, they’re so positively impacted,” he said.

Mr. Modeste tied this to the economy. With more people comfortable and ready to get out there and work, the burden on society is reduced, he said. Respecting people’s gender identity is critical to alleviating these sorts of long-term impacts, he continued.

For him, gender-neutral language allows for authentic expression. In his case, having been married and lived part of the “straight life,” he said that if he had seen more gay men represented in the world when he was growing up his life would’ve been very different “in a positive way.”

Lawyer Raj Anand, a partner at WeirFoulds LLP with practice in constitutional law, pointed towards the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and its emphasis on gender equality, noting that implementing gender-neutral language would also put into action the promise the Charter was designed to have.

“When the federal government takes [gender-neutral language] on, it sends a huge signal to others, as well as internally,” Mr. Scott said. “It’s really important for employees that work for the federal government to see this change, and if it affects them personally, they benefit from it.”

“But then also for those who it doesn’t impact, they might go, ‘oh well, why is this happening?’ And then we can have conversations about the benefits of gender-neutral language just to bring everybody along on this journey that’s so important for a variety of people.”

Source: Time for widespread gender-neutral language in federal policy, legislation, say advocates

Osler: Diversity Disclosure Practices – Diversity and leadership at Canadian public companies

Useful comprehensive and detailed report, looking at representation at the board and executive levels, for Canada’s largest publicly trade companies, including sector breakdowns.

Previous reports have only looked at women’s representation, the current report includes all four employment equity groups. Summary below, along with tables for visible minorities, Indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities:

Women now hold over 21.5% of board seats among TSX-listed companies disclosing the number of women on their boards, an increase of almost 3% compared to 2019. The rate at which women are being appointed to fill newly created or vacated board seats declined slightly to 35%, compared to 36.4% in 2019. As in past years, Canada’s larger companies continue to lead the way as women hold 31.5% of board positions among the S&P/ TSX 60 companies and 28.3% of board positions among the 221 companies included in the S&P/TSX Composite Index. All-male boards continue to wither away, representing only 18.5% of the TSX-listed companies.

We anticipate that certain of our 2020 full-year results, including the percentage of board seats held by women, will be approximately 1% lower than our 2020 mid-year results as a significant number of issuers which historically have had below average diversity results took advantage of permitted extensions of normal deadlines to file their disclosure after our July 31, 2020 cut-off for our mid-year results.

The number of TSX-listed companies with written board diversity policies increased to 64.7% and approximately 97% of the time those policies included a specific focus on women on the board. This year we noticed a significant increase in companies disclosing that their board policy also considers other diversity characteristics – the most common of which was ethnicity/race, which was identified approximately 57.5% of the time.

However, we continue to see no progress being made at the executive officer level. The proportion of women executive officers has remained largely unchanged since 2015, and under 10% of TSX-listed companies have targets for women executive officers.

Our review of diversity disclosure by CBCA companies under the new CBCA requirements shows results on the representation of women that are comparable to those reported for TSX-listed issuers under the new CBCA requirements. However, there is a marked absence of directors from other diversity groups. Only 5.5% of the 217 disclosing CBCA company directors are visible minorities. And among the 2,023 board positions of the 270 CBCA companies that provided full or partial disclosure on their practices before July 31, 2020, there were only 7 positions held by Aboriginal peoples and only 6 positions held by persons with disabilities.

The key data tables:

Source: https://www.osler.com/osler/media/Osler/reports/corporate-governance/Diversity-and-Leadership-in-Corporate-Canada-2020.pdf

Laurentian Bank CEO says diversity targets part of financial package for bank leaders

Money talks:

Laurentian Bank of Canada chief executive Rania Llewellyn says that early in her career, she was told by a manager that he was looking for a man to fill a job she was vying for.

“I remember, there was a vacant job. I was ready to go for it. I was trained,” said Llewellyn at a webcast event on Monday at The Empire Club of Canada, in a celebration of International Women’s Day.

“And he said, ‘I’m looking for a man and I’m looking for someone who’s older.’ And this was going to be my new boss. Right? So, I would say there’s lots of those little stories across along the way.”

Llewellyn’s speech came on the heels of a report from DBRS Morningstar, which found that the six largest Canadian banks score better than the Australian and U.S. bank averages on attracting, retaining and developing women into senior leadership positions.

But DBRS Morningstar also says BMO, Scotiabank, CIBC, National Bank, RBC and TD are on average falling behind the three large Australian banks on the issue of gender pay equity.

Llewellyn, who in October became the first woman to lead a major Canadian bank, said diversity and inclusion targets should be written into the financial packages that go to the board, just as there are financial targets for leaders at the bank.

Llewellyn said companies setting such targets should focus not only on recruiting diverse talent, but also on retaining women as they move up the ranks.

“That’s one thing I introduced at Laurentian. All of my leaders have targets on their scorecards, in terms of diversity targets. But more importantly, I’ve actually included in our financial package that goes to the board,” Llewellyn said.

Linda Seymour, chief executive at HSBC Bank Canada, also said on Monday that International Women’s Day had her “reflecting on what it took to get here.”

“I was recently asked if I had to fight to break through the glass ceiling. It wasn’t that I had to fight harder than my male colleagues,” Seymour wrote in a LinkedIn post. “It was that I had to navigate harder – to make sure I was heard, to constantly network, to demonstrate when I was not only as qualified, but more qualified than my male colleagues.”

Seymour wrote that she sees having a gender-balanced board and executive committee at HSBC Bank Canada as a business advantage, but called on leaders to generally be more open to being challenged by employees on diversity and inclusion progress.

The report from DBRS Morningstar said that the gender wage gap has been consistent for about 20 years for workers between 25 to 54 in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing. But the report said that disruptions to the labour force caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may be behind a slight widening of the gap recently. Indeed, across industries, the female participation rate in Canada’s labour force fell during the pandemic, the report said.

Llewellyn said child-care infrastructure, flexible work arrangements in terms of time and hours, upskilling programs and early childhood financial literacy programs will be key to helping women recover from the effects of the pandemic.

“I think it’s systemic throughout our culture as well. I have a daughter and it starts very early on, in terms of some of these systemic biases in the system,” she said. “Words matter and how people behave and how we model is absolutely important.”

Source: Laurentian Bank CEO says diversity targets part of financial package for bank leaders

Gender Results Framework: Data table on gender representation in federal leadership roles

Text – Selected

Underwhelming. Overly general, no intersectionality data but will save some time for those like me who track this stuff. More interesting would be broader examination of federal leadership roles beyond MPs:

Statistics Canada’s Centre for Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics has released a new data table on gender representation in federal government leadership roles. This information will be used by the Gender Results Framework, a whole-of-government tool designed to track gender equality in Canada.

Using open data from the House of Commons of Canada, the Centre has produced a table that shows the gender distribution of members of Parliament and of ministers appointed to the federal Cabinet. This information could be used to track, over time, gender representation in elected office and appointments to ministerial positions in the federal government.

Open data refer to structured data that are machine-readable and freely shared, used and built on without restrictions. The data included in this table are sourced from the House of Commons of Canada and are licensed under the Open Government Licence – Canada.

These new data will soon be housed on the Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics Hub.

Personally, find employment equity public service, governor-in-council, judicial and senate appointments more interesting and relevant than this general dataset.

Hopefully StatsCan’s new hub will become more relevant over time and broaden its reach in cooperation with other agencies such as TBS, PSC and PCO.

Source: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/210308/dq210308f-eng.htm?CMP=mstatcan

Women at risk of long-term work disruption as pandemic alters jobs market, RBC warns [also visible minorities and immigrants]

More on the “she-cession” and “imm-cession:”

Women in Canada are at risk of prolonged unemployment as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates structural changes to the job market, RBC Economics warned Thursday.

The health crisis has dealt uneven blows to the labour market – and often, to the greater detriment of women. There’s been a substantial increase in the number of women who are jobless for six-plus months, while many have dropped out of the labour force entirely.

At the same time, the pandemic is forcing many companies to adopt new technologies sooner than planned, while some consumer spending habits may have shifted permanently, the RBC report said. That could spell trouble for jobs at risk of automation, and in particular, for the women who staff the service industries most affected by health restrictions.

“As we reopen, the economy is changing,” Dawn Desjardins, deputy chief economist at Royal Bank of Canada and one of the report’s authors, said in an interview. “We need all hands on deck … in trying to get people re-engaged” in the labour market.

Using data from Statistics Canada, RBC pointed to a handful of indicators where women are lagging, and where the recovery process could prove challenging.

For instance, employment for women earning less than $800 weekly was down nearly 30 per cent from February, 2020, while for men it fell 24 per cent. Women have also sustained roughly two-thirds of the job losses in the struggling hospitality sector.

As well, nearly 100,000 women aged 20-plus have dropped out of the labour force – meaning they aren’t working or searching for a job – while fewer than 10,000 men have done so. Young and racialized women, female immigrants and mothers are among those who have suffered outsized work disruptions.

“The longer these women are out of the labour force, the greater the risk of skills erosion, which could potentially hamper their ability to get rehired or to transition to different roles as the economy evolves,” the report said.

Ms. Desjardins and economist Carrie Freestone wrote that accessible and targeted training is needed to help displaced workers, and that digital skills are crucial.

Such efforts could be unveiled in the federal government’s spring budget. Ottawa has said it will spend up to $100-billion over three years in fiscal stimulus, to help with the recovery process. And in a mandate letter sent to Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough in January, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for “the largest investment in Canadian history in training for workers.”

Much like RBC, the Bank of Canada has flagged concerns over structural changes to the job market. In a recent speech, Governor Tiff Macklem said automation helps companies become more productive and creates new work opportunities. But the pandemic has sped up the transformation, and that comes with collateral damage.

“Some of the jobs that have been lost during the pandemic will not return,” Mr. Macklem said. “Many low-wage jobs have a high potential of being automated. And some jobs that are disproportionally held by women and youth, such as retail salesperson and cashier, are also the kinds of jobs where the pandemic has accelerated structural change.”

The RBC report also called for “more options” in affordable child care. “But it’s no solution if [low-earning mothers] don’t have jobs to return to.”

Ultimately, Ms. Desjardins said Canada should be working toward women participating in the labour force at the same rates as men. It’s a gap that predates the pandemic, but if closed would result in a much larger and dynamic economy.

“The idea of women participating at the same level as men in the labour market, and what that can add to our economy – it just makes that pie bigger,” she said.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-women-at-risk-of-prolonged-unemployment-rbc-warns/