‘We Saw There Is Disparity.’ Italian Fashion World Adopts Diversity Agenda

Better late than never:

The Italian National Fashion Chamber is promoting a diversity agenda among Milan’s major fashion houses, a year after several top Italian brands faced criticism for designs and remarks seen as culturally and racially insensitive.

Its manifesto backed by major Italian fashion brands aims to increase racial and gender diversity in key roles in Milan’s fashion houses, which fashion chamber president Carlo Capasa acknowledged was lagging in a recent interview with The Associated Press ahead of Milan Fashion Week.

‘’We have been speaking for many years against discrimination based on gender, religion, skin color and physical ability. But we must acknowledge that this has not been truly implemented,’’ Capasa said. ‘’We looked at our industry and we saw there is disparity. We saw that a disparity of gender persists, that there are conditions not favorable to women in the workplace and in some cases there is discrimination.’’

While Capasa resisted framing the manifesto as a direct reaction to the scandals involving blackface designs by Gucci and Prada, and a Chinese backlash that forced fashion house Dolce&Gabbana to cancel a major Shanghai show, the incidents show the cultural blind spots that can arise when a fashion house is too homogeneous.

Capasa said the Milan fashion world must work harder to attract people of color. “If global companies want to represent the world they are targeting, they must welcome diversity and look beyond their own borders,’’ he said, citing the relative homogeneity of Italian society.

Milan has lagged the other main fashion cities of Paris, New York and London in racial diversity on the runway, according to season diversity reporting by the Fashion Spot. Capasa said the stories that fashion houses want to tell are often linked to their Italian roots, and that runway choices are linked to model agencies’ offerings since not all models come to Milan.

While many Milan fashion houses take their creative direction from women — including Miuccia Prada, Donatella Versace, Silvia Venturini Fendi and Angela Missoni — and more women than men work in the fashion industry, Capasa said efforts are needed to get more women into decision-making roles.

‘’If we look at the boards, at the CEOs, at other key roles, there might be an advantage for men,’’ Capasa said. ‘’But we don’t want to introduce quotas obligating companies to promote women. We want to create the conditions so that women can have the same chances.’’

The chamber’s manifesto does not include hard commitments. Instead, it presents concepts that ‘’will serve as a model for a radical reform in terms of diversity and inclusion.’’

They were adopted by the chamber’s more than 100 members, which include most major Milan fashion houses with the notable exception of Dolce&Gabbana, and will be monitored every year for progress.

They call for changing representations of the standards of beauty on runways and in magazine campaigns, acknowledging that ‘’canons of physical beauty and harmful psychological models have spread throughout the industry.’’ They also present inclusion as a business opportunity that can boost financial results while improving trust with clients.

Gucci and Prada have independently made efforts to address the scandals. Gucci’s efforts include launching a scholarship program to reach students who have been underrepresented in the fashion industry, while Prada announced a diversity council headed by two Americans, artist Theaster Gates and film director Ava DuVernay.

Capasa put the fashion chamber’s initiatives in the context of an ever more globalized industry where 2.5 billion people follow the fashion world on social media accounts and can, with a single post, shift a fashion company’s fortunes.

Meanwhile the center of fashion’s commercial gravity has shifted to Asia, with Chinese consumers accounting for 90% of luxury sales growth last year, according to a study by the consultancy Bain & Co.

“The push to speak about diversity of inclusion comes directly from the fact that globalization made us understand that you cannot speak in the same way that you spoke before,” Capasa said. “The audience has become much bigger.’’

Source: ‘We Saw There Is Disparity.’ Italian Fashion World Adopts Diversity Agenda

How Nestlé’s radically stepped up its diversity game in last two years

Yet another example of a company’s recognition of the diversity of its customer base and thus the need for greater employee diversity, with what appears to be a coherent and meaningful strategy:

This might be one of the most important brand diversity case studies out there right now.

In the space of two years, Nestlé has radically improved its inclusion story and now boasts stats including: 50 percent female senior marketing leadership and 70 percent in marketing roles at manager level and above; 41 percent of summer associates from ethnically diverse backgrounds; 87 percent of diverse employees participating in culture programs feeling more engaged as a result and; a 1:1 gender pay equity for salaried employees at Nestlé USA.

“Diversity and inclusion are right for our talent, right for our culture, and right for our business, and help us build for the future,” states Nestlé USA CEO Steve Presley.

With products found in 97 percent of American kitchens, Nestlé has no choice but to hold diversity at the center of its marketing ecosystem.

Nestlé USA Chief Marketing Officer Alicia Enciso has leaned on her own experience growing up and working in Mexico to bring insights into multicultural consumers, contribute to industry-wide improvements in representation, and create a new perspective on building brands steeped in diversity.

“Marketing is the beating heart of our business and drives our closeness and connection to all our diverse consumers,” she said. “It’s critical that our teams leverage and empower underrepresented talent across gender, race and ethnicity, and LGBTQ status.”

Nestlé outlined its steps for greater inclusion in a case study as part of the ANA’s recent Diversity Report.


Recruit

Leveraging partners
With diversity-focused talent partners like The Consortium and Prospanica, we’re able to engage diverse talent early in their educational and professional journey. Through these partnerships, 45 percent of undergraduate and MBA campus candidates came from diverse backgrounds. By combining that attraction with diverse interview panels of current employees, we’re ensuring leaders of tomorrow reflect our consumers and our community.

Equipping candidates
Our Diversity Leadership Symposium brings together college students from diverse backgrounds for an intensive on-site program. Participants join career development sessions, network with business leaders, take part in a hands-on culinary experience, and interview for internships, co-ops, and trainee opportunities with a chance to return to school with a job offer in hand.

Exposure and skill-building help close the gap for diverse students and make corporate opportunities accessible, while interview opportunities create a direct line from development to hiring.

Ensuring pay equity
Nationwide, American women are still paid a lower average salary than their male counterparts, a problem that is exacerbated for women of color. A 2018 analysis found that salaries for female and male employees have reached a 1:1 gender pay equity at Nestlé USA. We have shared this information publicly with two purposes in mind: to attract strong female marketing talent to our company, and to encourage other businesses to follow our lead on equal pay. In 2018, we increased the portion of women hired for management roles by more than 50 percent.


Retain

Promoting workplace flexibility
While workplace flexibility adds value across our employee base, groups with diverse and valuable perspectives have been constrained from growth in marketing careers due to inflexible working environments, whether that’s new parents, military spouses, or those with elder care responsibilities.

Our Parental Support Program offers up to six months of leave for primary caregivers regardless of gender, including 14 weeks of paid leave and options for phased/ part-time return. Leave does not impede advancement or growth, and breastfeeding mothers returning to work have guaranteed access to dedicated breastfeeding rooms.

Broader flexibility programs support employees who need to adapt when, where, and how they do their work, from flexible hours to job-sharing. Flexibility, support, and empowerment have helped us retain strong diverse marketing talent throughout their careers.

Fighting unconscious bias, building community, and advocating for employees
Alongside providing unconscious bias training for Nestlé managers, we advocate for diverse groups within our company and in the national dialogue. Internally, we support Employee Engagement Groups as they develop programs and events to help employees thrive, from organizing involvement in LGBTQ Pride events to hosting panels on marketing to diverse consumers.

Externally, we have voiced strong support for national employee protections, such as the Equality Act, letting our employees know that we support them beyond our bottom line.


Promote

Building diversity in talent pipelines
To develop internal talent, Nestlé invests in a strong pipeline approach for leadership with a focus on diversity. When identifying strong pipeline talent, we create paths to leadership through specific development assignments, helping take ambiguity and bias out of the professional development process and equipping a diverse generation of high-potential talent with the practical experience required to progress in their careers.

In conjunction with these assignments, we employ a hemisphere-wide leadership monitoring program with a strong emphasis on women in leadership, where cross-country mentorship also helps develop greater multicultural opportunities.

Developing people leaders
We are developing leaders from all backgrounds to drive our company forward. Our SPARK training sessions focus on employees’ individual skills and experiences to help them understand how they can tap into their leadership potential. All marketing employees across the organization have taken this training, promoting courage in seeking new opportunities and creating a level playing field for leadership development.

Source: How Nestlé’s radically stepped up its diversity game in last two years

Diversity, inclusion minister should act as ‘catalyst’ with cross-ministerial power, say advocates

Some good commentary but more speculation until we actually see the ministerial mandate letters:

Renaming the multiculturalism ministry to diversity and inclusion has drawn mixed reactions from affected communities, as advocates await the release of the ministerial mandate letter to signal whether action is likely to come with the new title, or if it’s just “window dressing,” as some fear.

Within Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s (Papineau, Que.) expanded 37-member cabinet, announced on Nov. 20, multiculturalism has been hived off from the heritage minister’s responsibility, with a separate portfolio for diversity, inclusion, and youth created, to be overseen by Bardish Chagger (Waterloo, Ont.) as minister.

Shireen Salti, interim executive director at the Canadian Arab Institute, said she’ll be watching to see if Ms. Chagger will be empowered to “act as a catalyst ensuring that diversity and inclusion is evenly applied across governments,” and that it doesn’t work as “a stand-alone ministry.”

The role should involve looking at the various functions of government and ensuring that underrepresented communities see some outreach and affirmative action, and that equal opportunities apply across sectors, something Ms. Salti said needs to be addressed for Arab Canadians, who represent the largest demographic of newcomers right now.

Former Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes said she was critical of the position in the beginning, but it presents an opportunity to “shift the conversation,” which in the past has mostly focused on gender-balance, to one that addresses equity for all. It should envelope intersecting identities, including race, class, ability, sexual orientation, and religious minorities, she said, and the gender-based analysis that was applied to government work in the 42nd Parliament should be broadened.

The position should act as an “accountability” check on the Liberals promises, and she said she hopes Ms. Chagger is tasked to work across all ministries to ensure that policy is looked at from an equity perspective. That’s the key, said Ms. Caesar-Chavannes, who is critical of the term “diversity,” calling it a frame that may draw in more people, but doesn’t always lead to systemic change.

Diversity just means numbers, echoed Black Vote Canada’s Velma Morgan, while inclusion means actual participation, she said, and she hopes the minister’s mandate letter is “starting at home,” namely, addressing the dearth of diversity in government offices. It should include outcomes that lead to more people of colour among the political staff surrounding ministers, and those reporting to them in the bureaucracy, said Ms. Morgan.

“We need to have people at the decision-making table so it reflects our community, but also brings the voice of our community to those tables,” she said. “A policy may seem very neutral on the surface but it might have an adverse effect on our community, and if you don’t know the nuances in our community, then you wouldn’t be able to catch them.”

Without specific measures in mandate, it’s ‘window dressing’

To former Conservative staffer Angela Wright, Ms. Chagger’s new title is “very typical of the way” Liberals have done things, and doesn’t necessarily signal a change in direction or adoption of new policies.

“When it comes to diversity and inclusion, they’ve already done all the studies and the reports, and at this point we need to see action and we need to see money from government to signal this is actually a commitment and something they’re going to work toward,” she said.

Anything less than actual money, changes in law, and policy implementation “is just window dressing,” she said.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh (Burnaby South, B.C.) has dismissed the new ministry as “pretty words,” rather than “real actions,” to address inclusion.

Political scientist Anita Singh was equally critical, noting cabinet positions like this one—and the newly formed ministry echoing the Liberal Party’s tagline of middle-class prosperity—are “a catch-22”.

“On one hand, the prime minister is trying to signal that these are issues that are important to his party, but on the other hand, by isolating these ministries, it fails to show how diversity, inclusion, and youth issues are interrelated to other key portfolios,” she said.

The biggest issues for youth, for example, are job creation, housing supply, and education, and so a ministry separate from that core work “makes little sense,” said Ms. Singh, while immigrant groups and people of colour face issues around immigration, credential recognition, and economic growth and housing.

“It is a weird irony that integration is being isolated this way,” she said. “There seems to be a lack of understanding about how these are all interrelated challenges.”

Though the Heritage office, Ms. Chagger declined an interview with The Hill Times until her mandate letter was issued. The office did not respond to follow-up questions about the renamed ministry, its budget and departmental resources, and whether it marks a change in approach.

These files are coming together because “there are synergies between these different roles,” Ms. Chagger told reporters on Nov. 21, the day after she was sworn in. She’ll also take on the LGBTQ2 Secretariat, created last Parliament, which has been transferred, along with the Youth Secretariat, from the Privy Council Office to the department of Canadian Heritage. The government also previously announced an Anti-Racism Secretariat, under the purview of the heritage minister, and $4.6-million to bring in a “whole-of-government approach” to address racism.

“These are areas that we take very seriously and the fact that it is a responsibility at the cabinet table tells you that we are going to ensure that when we are making decisions, we are making good decisions not only for today, but for future generations,” said Ms. Chagger.

Ruby Latif, a former Dalton McGuinty adviser who has worked at various levels of government and in Liberal circles, said she was pleased the government has taken this “step forward,” calling it a helpful position.

“When you have someone whose specialty [is] looking at inclusion and diversity, it ensures there is a lens being applied to all aspects,” said Ms. Latif, adding she thinks Ms. Chagger is the right person for the job.

Ms. Latif knew Ms. Chagger through Liberal politics, and said the minister’s experience through her work at the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre, before the second-term MP became a candidate, means Ms. Chagger “actually brings that lens of understanding of diversity.”

File typically considered a junior minister

This will be Ms. Chagger’s third portfolio since being elected in 2015. First, she was named small business minister in Mr. Trudeau’s first cabinet, and less than a year later moved to the high-profile House leader post. Now, she’s paired with the Heritage department in a post that’s traditionally been seen as a junior minister, noted University of Toronto professor Erin Tolley.

Asked by reporters if she felt demoted, Ms. Chagger said with cabinet positions, it’s the prime minister’s prerogative. She said she faced the same questions when she was small business minister, and as House leader, and that it’s “important” to sit at the cabinet table.

Ms. Chagger is one of seven people who are visible minorities who were named to the 37-member, gender-balanced cabinet. She’s the fifth racialized minister to take on multiculturalism—the now-renamed portfolio has been the most common assignment among the 20 or so visible minority people who have occupied cabinet posts since Pierre De Bané was named to former prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s cabinet in 1978, soon after the post was first created.

Where racialized ministers are named is noteworthy, Prof. Tolley said, and while it may make sense to have people of colour to serve in positions that deal with anti-racism and multiculturalism, governments should see those objectives as everybody’s responsibility.

“You can’t meet these equity objectives unless white Canadians are doing some of the work,” she said. “If you want to stack up the comparison between symbols and actual outcomes from this particular minister’s perspective, she went from a prominent role to one of less visibility and less importance.”

Multiculturalism has historically been one of the “hot potato posts” that’s been “all over the map,” with governments dealing with it in different ways, added Prof. Tolley.

It was first housed within the old department of the secretary of state, which later morphed into Canadian Heritage, and it’s also lived with the department of Citizenship and Immigration. Some prime ministers had a separate minister of state for multiculturalism, while others didn’t have a minister whose post specifically included multiculturalism in the title, as was the case in Mr. Trudeau’s first cabinet.

Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly (Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Que.) was responsible for multiculturalism in 2015, but it wasn’t brought into the title until now-House Leader Pablo Rodriguez (Honoré-Mercier, Que.) replaced her in the post in July 2018.

Semantics are important to politics, said Prof. Tolley, because it’s an explicit choice.

“The portfolios are not named accidentally,” she said, invoking the middle-class prosperity file as an example of a “symbolic and semantic” choice

“I’ll be curious to read the mandate the letter so see how, in practical terms, that symbolic choice materializes,” said Prof. Tolley, adding she also found it curious that the government isolated “youth” as a particular category.

It suggests something about government priorities, she said, whereas the words “diversity and inclusion” are “doing a lot of work” and are capturing a lot of different interests and identities and categories the government might be interested in. Last Parliament, Mr. Trudeau himself held the youth portfolio.

“From my perspective the name change, it doesn’t really go that much further, unless the mandate letter includes something about equity and outcomes,” she said, and it may be a case of simply renaming what was already there, and “in some ways almost diluting it, because now you’re dumping more and more elements into this bucket of diversity.”

Source: Diversity, inclusion minister should act as ‘catalyst’ with cross-ministerial power, say advocates

Hiring rule hampers diversity among teachers, says Ontario Education Minister

Classic challenge between competing objectives, experiences and diversity. Experience should not be used as a proxy for merit or suitability :

A regulation that forces boards to hire the most experienced supply teacher for full-time jobs — rather than the best fit — hinders efforts to bring in educators from more diverse backgrounds in schools, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said after hearing from parents in Peel who are concerned about racism in the board.

“What is really the challenge that impedes the ability of boards to make decisions based on merit or equity is Regulation 274, which creates some impediments to hiring talented educators based on their qualifications,” Lecce told the Star in an interview Monday.

He said the rule “eliminates the ability of boards to find, to choose, merited candidates that happen to be (diverse) or of specific backgrounds to better reflect the communities they represent. Their advice to me was to very seriously look at removing those impediments and I committed to them to doing so.”

Lecce has sent in two troubleshooters to probe complaints of anti-Black racism at the Peel District School Board, and last week personally met with families.

The issue, however, is one provincial negotiators will raise during the current round of talks with teacher unions, who support Regulation 274. It was originally implemented to curb nepotism, a huge concern for the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, OECTA.

OECTA declined to comment on the regulation, saying it is a matter for the bargaining table.

The hiring rule was brought in by the former Liberal government during contract negotiations in 2012 with OECTA, requiring principals to hire from among the five most qualified senior candidates in the supply pool for long-term and permanent jobs.

The regulation was later extended to cover all other school boards in Ontario over the objections of the boards themselves, as well as directors of education and deans of Ontario’s faculties of education.

Teachers have also complained that they lose seniority if they move to another board.

By 2013, even then-premier Kathleen Wynne admitted the regulation was an “overcorrection” and said her government would work to “get it right” during the next round of contract talks, though no changes were made.

Then, last April, Lecce’s predecessor Lisa Thompson called the regulation was “outdated” and that the government would address it because it “rewarded teachers based on seniority and did not recognize teachers who were excelling at their jobs.”

Lecce said changing the regulation “will have implications at the bargaining table, but I made commitments to understand the problem and work in good faith with all the parties, given this is about student success,” he said.

“ … The point really is taken that if you are not able to have a mechanism to draw upon talented people from various visible minority communities and racialized communities then we don’t do justice to our kids from those communities,” Lecce also said.

Earlier this year, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario said a 2014 provincial report allayed concerns about the regulation and found that boards were not hiring unqualified candidates, nor was it preventing more diverse candidates from getting jobs, though boards and principals disagree.

Unions have, however, said they are willing to look at the lack of mobility to switch boards that Regulation 274 has created.

Source: Hiring rule hampers diversity among teachers, says Ontario Education Minister

Newsrooms not keeping up with changing demographics, study suggests

Likely not but not sure that focussing on columnists is the best measure of whether or not diversity is improving or not.

The analysis would also benefit from examining diversity in J-schools to see how that has changed over time:

Over the past two decades, as Canada’s demographics have shifted, news organizations have failed to reflect the country’s increasing diversity in both content and staffing.

Research on media coverage of race-related stories on politics from scholars like University of Toronto professor Erin Tolleyhas highlighted how far newsrooms have still to go.

But in Canada, most print and digital news organizations have resisted processes to examine their staffing. The conversation on the impact of industry job losses on newsroom diversity cannot advance until fundamental questions about staffing numbers are answered.

Our new study aims to fill in important information about newsroom staffing by showing how the demographics of national newspaper columnists compare to the increasing diversity of the Canadian population.

When it comes to news, who makes the decisions behind the scenes is just as important as whose byline is on the front page.

While Canadian broadcasters are federally mandated to report on their workforce demographics, newspapers and digital publications have no such requirement. In the United States, several national news organizations, including the New York Timesand BuzzFeed, have begun self-reporting the race and gender make-up of their newsrooms.

The American Society of News Editors (ASNE) has been conducting annual diversity studies of major newsrooms since 1978, allowing for the mapping of meaningful trends in how newsrooms hire, retain and promote journalists from diverse backgrounds.

“Counting gives us a starting point,” said Linda Shockley of the Dow Jones News Fund, which uses such demographic data to design training for U.S. journalists, in a recent interview with Poynter.

Racialized journalists drive diversity conversations

Recent conversations around diversity in media have been largely driven by racialized journalists, including the Toronto Star’s Shree Paradkar. Former Globe and Mail reporter Sunny Dhillon wrote about his decision to leave the paper after 10 years, frustrated by a continued editorial pattern of approaching complex stories through a “colour-blind lens.”

Columnist Desmond Cole stopped writing his twice-monthly freelance column for the Toronto Star after the paper’s editorial board editor barred him from his civic activism.

“If I must choose between a newspaper column and the actions I must take to liberate myself and my community, I choose activism in the service of Black liberation,” Cole wrote in a blog post.

There is little data on the breakdown of Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) journalists in Canadian newsrooms. In 2004, Ryerson School of Journalism professor emeritus and former Toronto Star editor John Miller relied on voluntary participation for a survey on the demographic makeup of Canadian news organizations.

Some editors returned the survey empty; one scribbled across the page, “I find these questions insulting.” A few years later, Miller and Wendy Cukier, a professor at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management, examined visible minority leadership at Toronto media organizations by using publicly available information and having it reviewed by researchers trained in employment equity.

Publications such as Canadaland (in 2016) and J-Source (in 2014and 2017) have also sought voluntary co-operation from news organizations and individual journalists with limited results.

‘Self-reporting’ offers window into staffing

To address the failure to engage in self-reporting by many Canadian news organizations, our study looks at the section of the newspaper where journalists often self-identify: the op-ed pages. In the process of expressing their perspectives on the issues of our time, columnists often disclose their identities.

We focused on news, city, opinion page and political columnists as they are most likely to shape social and political discussions.

For our 21-year study, we looked at Canada’s three largest publications, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the National Post, narrowing the scope of our research to include only those who wrote weekly columns or a minimum of 40 columns a year. In the end, we analyzed the work of 89 columnists, beginning in 1998 with the birth of the Post and ending in 2018.

Using terms of self-identification found in the columnists’ own words, in their published work and on their social media posts, we categorized their race and gender by census category.

Examples of self-identification that we found include phrases from columns such as “I, for one (old WASP),” “I, middle-class white lady” and “(as an) affluent white woman.” We then compared the numbers with corresponding census blocks over the 21-year period to chart how closely, along the lines of race and gender, columnists at Canadian newsrooms reflect Canada’s demographics.

In the 1996-2000 census period, white people comprised 88.8per cent of all Canadians, with two per cent Black, 2.8 per centIndigenous, 2.4 per cent South Asian and 3.5 per cent East Asian. By 2016, the numbers changed significantly: white, 77.7 per cent; Black 3.5 per cent; Indigenous 4.9 per cent; South Asian 5.6 per cent; and East Asian 5.4 per cent.

Our preliminary research shows that this demographic shift was not reflected in the makeup of Canadian columnists. Over the 21 years, as the proportion of white people in Canada’s population declined, the representation of white columnists increased.

Between 1998 and 2000, 92.8 per cent of columnists at the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the National Post were white, over-representing corresponding census statistics by four per cent. And during the 2016-18 comparative period, while overall representation of white columnists dropped to 88.7 per cent of the columns pool, those numbers over-represented against the census numbers by 11 per cent.

Over the period of our study, not one of the publications had an Indigenous columnist who appeared regularly. Only three Black men and no Black women met our criteria for columnists.

Upholding trust and accountability

Our preliminary findings are concerning. For more than two decades, the voices that these publications chose to give prominence to did not reflect the perspectives and interests of a large segment of Canada’s population.

Self-reporting on newsroom diversity would encourage a culture of trust and accountability, one that the journalism profession upholds in its role as a watchdog of public institutions.

We are working on the development of a self-reporting tool for Canadian newsrooms, with the hope that such a strategy will be seen by media outlets as an invitation for redress.

After all, it’s impossible for Canada’s newsrooms to address a problem they can’t see. We are concerned that for the many who refuse to co-operate, that just may be the point.

Source: Newsrooms not keeping up with changing demographics, study suggests

Federal judiciary edges closer to gender parity, but numbers of minorities drop


Hmm. Effect of change in Minister?:

The federal judiciary is edging closer to gender parity after the second consecutive year in which more women than men were appointed judges, new data show. Women now make up 43 per cent of the 905 full-time judges.

But the numbers of minorities dropped, also for the second year in a row. There were just four members of visible-minority groups chosen, and two Indigenous persons, out of 86 new judges.

In the wake of the new statistics, some members of the legal community are urging the government to do more to appoint minorities to the bench.

“I think it is time now to redefine what we mean by merit,” said Daphne Dumont, a former president of the Canadian Bar Association who practises law in Charlottetown.

“I think you can be highly meritorious for all sorts of reasons that aren’t necessarily the reasons given in the application form that you have to fill in.” For instance, Indigenous lawyers who have returned to their home communities to bring them access to justice have shown merit. The process, she and others said, typically rewards those who are perceived as leaders through volunteering, teaching and participating on boards of legal associations.

The Liberal government revised the appointment process in 2016, with a stated emphasis on diversity. For the first time, the government asked judicial applicants whether they are disabled, a member of a visible minority or an ethnic/cultural minority, LGBTQ2 or Indigenous.

Each year, the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs reports on the numbers of applicants and appointments from each of the groups. The numbers cover federally appointed courts such as the superior courts of provinces, the Federal Court of Canada and the Tax Court.

From October, 2016, to October, 2017, an equal number of men and women – 37 – were appointed to these courts, although men far outnumbered women among applicants. The following year, female applicants for the first time outnumbered males, and the numbers appointed also exceeded those of males – 46 to 33. This year, appointments were 47 women, 39 men.

By contrast, the numbers went down among the minority groups. This year (from October, 2018, to October, 2019), there were 20 appointees – 14 from ethnic/cultural groups; four visible minorities; two Indigenous; and zero categorized as LGBTQ2 or disabled. (There were 19 LGBTQ2 applicants and six disabled ones. Applicants can stay in the pool for two years.) The previous year, there were seven visible minorities, three Indigenous and 29 overall. The first year of the reports, in 2017, there were 32 – including nine visible minorities.

Rachel Rappaport, a spokeswoman for Justice Minister David Lametti, said the minister has met with legal organizations since his appointment early this year to encourage applicants from visible-minority, Indigenous, linguistic-minority and LGBTQ2 communities. The meetings were also a chance to identify barriers and work together on solutions to further expand the pool of candidates, she said.

Lori Anne Thomas, president of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, said the appointments of black and Indigenous judges have been “woefully lacking.” She said she was singling out those two groups because they are overrepresented in the criminal-justice system, and among families in the child-protection system.

“The women who are appointed are white women. It shows there have been a lot of efforts in the legal community to create fairness and equality when it comes to gender, but it’s still not there in terms of race, or Indigenous persons,” she said in an interview.

Ms. Thomas said she would like to see “more consideration” given to members of overrepresented communities – for instance, for overcoming obstacles.

“Those who are racialized won’t be given the same kind of opportunities to speak on panels, to lead cases in the same way that especially their white male counterparts would be given.”

On that point, Scott Maidment, president of the Advocates’ Society, a lawyers’ group, said change needs to come from within the legal profession, too. To become a judge, “You need opportunities for leadership within the profession.” The Advocates’ Society has revised its leadership principles to stress inclusivity, he said.

Source: 43 per cent of federal judges

The diversity racket

While over-blown, including her claims about misleading data, the call for more meaningful and open conversations around what diversity means, and confronting one’s internal biases, whether right or left, is valid:

People of all stripes are undergoing an identity crisis. Although identity crises have long existed as part of the human condition, today’s crisis has emerged in tandem with, and in part as a reaction to, the diversity movement — or as proponents call it, diversity and inclusion (D&I).

Industry experts and D&I leaders comprise primarily of educated and ideologically homogeneous Westerners who dictate social norms, policies and the correct usage of language. Everyone else is forced to agree, or else be labelled an oppressor. Ironically, these experts are able to agree on a consistent ideology, precisely because diversity of thought is so lacking. Real diversity would mean inviting everyone to the conversation, not reaching a moral conclusion in an invite-only group and then forcing everyone else to adopt it because ‘that’s just the way it is now’.

D&I has created an immense pressure to use only socially approved language. A fear of offence runs so deep that censorship of speech is an inevitable outcome, both within and outside these circles. Language is changing so quickly – what was acceptable yesterday is racist today. For instance, in the consultation process to develop Canada’s latest anti-racism strategy, some of the participants said that once neutral words like ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘visible minority’ could be contributing to racism. For everyday people who don’t keep a pulse on these trends, this high turnover of acceptable language can be overwhelming and alienating. Unsurprisingly, this can also lead to further resistance and can tempt people towards the right, where there is less concern about being politically correct.

Big business and academia have jumped on the diversity train. ‘Inclusion strategists’ and ‘equity experts’ are highly sought after by multinational companies who want to inject diversity into their workplaces. Irshad Manji describes the emptiness of this phenomenon in her book, Don’t Label Me:

‘In America’s transactional culture, diversity amounts to slapping labels on individuals. People wind up packaged like products – crammed into prefabricated molds, presumed indistinguishable from others in the same category, handy for a momentary purpose and destined to be disposed of afterward.’

Governments follow closely behind industry, pouring millions of dollars into the diversity cause.

While the outpouring of support for marginalised groups is an important step towards equality and fair representation, these programmes continue to mask the structural cracks growing in society. These fault lines ready to slip at a moment’s notice. Government creates programmes to combat racism, but doesn’t make any attempts to understand the root causes of racism and discrimination in late capitalism in the first place.

Not only are social norms, language, and policy dictated by a few people at the table, but the structure and implementation of these D&I programmes is largely based on subjective individual accounts and self-reported questionnaires. These non-quantifiable assessments have been used to fund entire D&I departments in academia, business and government, where D&I experts are paid generously by unwitting taxpayers and students.

At one diversity and inclusion workshop I attended, the white female facilitator spoke at length about her white privilege and her internalised guilt as a white person. Through her own guilt, the certified D&I practitioner made the other white participants in the room feel ashamed and guilty on the basis of their whiteness alone. By the end of the training, I also felt culturally insignificant and ashamed of my own ‘whiteness’ – despite being an immigrant.

When the woke wonder why diversity rubs so many people up the wrong way, I want to point them to the above incident. I have heard variations of this time and again. Some people may feel guilty, while others may react defensively when they are told that their very existence is oppressive. ‘These days’, Irshad Manji writes, ‘to be labelled “white” is to learn that you’re a cultural non-entity’. What’s more, D&I advocates are eager to admonish white privilege while conveniently ignoring an entire group of underprivileged white people: the working class.

If we want to move beyond labels and have deeper conversations about diversity, we have to be willing to make mistakes and forgive each other when we do. To risk giving offence is the most concrete way we can bridge gaps together.

In 2017, the German newspaper Die Zeit organised a day of mass conversation. Hundreds of strangers were paired with people who held completely opposing political views. A total of 1,200 people showed up to have a simple conversation. The experiment was an overwhelming success. It has since inspired a global initiative called ‘My Country Talks’. The programme has provided a critical opportunity for people to re-learn how to talk to each other. Participants overwhelmingly reported having a better understanding of the ‘Other.’ They said that having a simple face-to-face conversation was enough for them to reconsider their own beliefs and be more understanding of those with opposing views. The experiment proved that an open conversation can pave the way towards greater understanding and empathy with each other.

Perhaps this is the most effective way diversity can be implemented – by the active participation of everyday people in real life circumstances. It’s a simple, but powerful starting point, and offers an opportunity for real exchange and insight.

At present, we funnel so much money into diversity while continuing to fail at it, despite good intentions. In my circles, where terms like ‘diversity,’ ‘oppression’ and ‘privilege’ are uttered on a daily basis, it is our responsibility to reflect on how our own biases and actions may be harmful to others – like preaching our dogmatic ideologies and expecting others to follow, or silencing others who disagree by using dangerous labels (no, not everyone to the right of you is racist).

As someone who genuinely believes in diversity, I’m often disappointed with both its advocates and critics for refusing to work together to bridge divides. For diversity to have any meaning at all, it needs to include people of all ideological stripes. Yet, here we are, excluding many of the people that need to be included in this global conversation. The diversity cause has turned into another excuse to engage with others who already fit into our own tightly sealed ideological bubbles and do away with everyone else.

Diversity and inclusion advocates are right to say that diversity is critical to a healthy democracy. But if we are going to continue selectively handpicking which types of diversity matter the most, and ignore the most significant inequalities and differences, then we really won’t progress much at all.

Source: The diversity racket

Parties must work between elections to improve diversity, say MPs, candidates

Some of the results of our recent analysis:
The 43rd Parliament will include 51 visible minority MPs, up from 47 after the 2015 election, while the number of Indigenous MPs will remain the same, at 10 out of 338, despite a record number running.

Parties have moved in the right direction when it comes to recruiting and selecting diverse political candidates, but more has to be done between elections to make federal politics accessible, say recent candidates and newly elected MPs.

“It’s not going to cut it,” if parties only focus on bringing in politicians that better reflect Canada’s makeup during pre-election candidate searches, said Liberal MP-elect Han Dong for Don Valley North, Ont.

“Between elections, all parties have to make a deliberate effort to reach out to communities to get them involved in policy discussions,” as a starting point, said Mr. Dong, a former Ontario MPP. “It is so important to generate that interest, to give a sense of involvement in decision-making. That’s how you’re going to get more people step forward and going for public office.”

For Andrea Clarke, who ran unsuccessfully as the NDP’s candidate in Outremont, Que., this year, the question of class and income disparity also makes running for Parliament less accessible to some, often racialized, Canadians.

How to make sure electoral politics are accessible and representative of the population isn’t something that should be discussed for just a few months each campaign season, she said.

“It’s something we need to intentionally build into how we hold our elections, and unfortunately folks who are the farthest have to fight the hardest to make the case that this is what we should be doing,” she said, adding that a lack of representative politics means losing out on having “different voices at the table, advocating for their communities, and their lived experience.”

Source: Andrew Griffith, from dataset created by The Hill Times, The Samara Centre for Democracy, and research partners.

The next Parliament will see a slight increase in visible minority representation in the House, with 51 MPs compared to 47 in 2017. The 43rd Parliament has 26 South Asian MPs, eight Chinese, five Black, six Arab, three West Asian, two Latin American, and one Korean, according to data pulled by researcher Andrew Griffith, based on a candidate database he created with The Hill Times, The Samara Centre for Democracy, and researcher Jerome Black, drawing from candidate biographies, media articles, social media, and photo analysis. The data may be missing some MPs, as it’s gleaned from publicly available information, and largely based on self-reported details.

Improving representation means striking a balance between “having candidates that run that reflect the composition nationally and yet making sure nominations are grassroots,” said Conservative MP-elect Marc Dalton, who is Métis and among the 10 MPs who identify as Indigenous in this Parliament.

Though a record number of 65 Indigenous candidates ran this election, the number who made it into the House didn’t budge from the 10 elected in 2015.

That amounts to three per cent of MPs, while 4.9 per cent of Canada’s population identified as Indigenous in the 2016 census. The party make-up has slightly changed, with six MPs in the Liberal caucus, two new MPs for the NDP, one Conservative, and Liberal turned Independent Jody Wilson-Raybould (Vancouver Granville, B.C.) remaining in the House.

The number of visible minority MPs is out also of line with the Canadian population, according to the 2016 census, which puts the visible minority population at 22.9 per cent—compared to 15 per cent of MPs in the 43rd Parliament. The Liberals lead with 38 MPs, followed by 10 in the Conservative Party, and three with the NDP. None of the Green Party’s three MPs or the Bloc Québécois’ 32 MPs are visible minorities.

If that’s the benchmark, Canada has “a serious underrepresentation problem,” said Mr. Griffith, a researcher at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, who uses a narrower comparison, looking instead at the level of Canadian citizens, rather than residents, who are visible minorities—17.2 per cent.

In that respect, he said parties are doing “reasonably well” especially compared to other political systems.

There were also small gains in the number of visible minority candidates who ran overall this election, from 12.9 per cent of candidates running for the main parties in 2015, to 15.7 per cent, including the new People’s Party of Canada, which had more visible minority candidates than the Green Party.

As with women, Samara researcher Paul Thomas said there’s a similar problem with visible minorities being less likely to run in seats where parties have a strong chance of winning. Gains in diversity are more likely made through seats that open up each election when incumbents leave, said Mr. Thomas, but his analysis found that the most competitive seats weren’t as open to diverse candidates.

This was especially true for the Conservative Party, which ran three visible minority candidates out of 42 competitive ridings—those with no incumbent running for re-election, or which were lost by a margin of five per cent or less in 2015.

Mr. Thomas also noted the Bloc’s “very poor performance” on this front. Despite its caucus tripling in size, only four of its 78 candidates were visible minorities, none of whom were ultimately elected.

When breaking down the results by ethnic background, a better picture emerges, noted Mr. Griffith, one that shows clear gaps in federal representation by community. For example, Filipino-Canadians are the fourth-largest visible minority group, but parties fielded only four candidates with that background overall, and none were elected. At 1.5 per cent of the House, Black representation is also low, he said, with five elected of the 49 candidates nominated across the major parties, despite making up 3.5 per cent of Canada’s population.

Mr. Dong is one among a record eight Chinese-Canadians elected to Parliament this year, but he noted it’s still half what it should be to reflect the Chinese-Canadian population, which makes up 4.6 per cent of the country.

“I think all parties, when it comes to candidate searches, are stepping towards the right direction,” said Mr. Dong. “In the beginning, it’s always hard, but when you start generating interest” and bringing candidate numbers into the double digits, as was the case with his community this election, he said it means there’s less of a mystery to political candidacy, and that more will come. Based on Mr. Griffith’s assessment, there were 38 Chinese-Canadian candidates in the running this past election.

Nearly 100 new MPs offer new face of Parliament, including 60 in flipped seats

More on MP diversity:
In many ways the incoming Parliament looks quite similar to its predecessor, with 240 returning MPs, the same number of MPs who are Indigenous or a visible minority, and 10 more women.
A third of the 60 MPs representing ridings that flipped were won with less than five per cent of the vote.

Eight former MPs, seven lawyers, five farmers, two Olympic athletes, a financial adviser, a musician, and an actor are all among the 98 new MPs headed to the Hill this fall.

Two-thirds of that group helped change the face of the new Parliament, flipping the ridings in their party’s favour during the Oct. 21 election that propelled Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) back to Ottawa with a minority government made up of 133 incumbents, like him, holding the Liberals’ 157 seats.

Many of the ridings that flipped were hard-fought battles, with a third won by margins of five percentage points or less of the vote, and Quebec and the Bloc Québécois figuring prominently in that group. Among those who lost their seats are a cabinet minister, the Conservatives’ deputy leader, and the NDP’s Orange Wave legacy in Quebec.

Conservative candidates switched the most seats across the country, at 27, stealing mainly from the Liberals in the Western provinces and often winning by the widest margins. Former MPs John Williamson (New Brunswick Southwest, N.B.) and Rob Moore (Fundy Royal, N.B.) were among those who took their ridings back in decisive victories, more than 20 points ahead of their closest competitors.

Some Bloc Québécois candidates also scored convincing wins to not only return their party to official status in the House, but also rocket past the NDP to a third-place finish. The traditionally sovereigntist party brought the next biggest bloc of flipped seats at 22, mostly to the NDP’s detriment, taking 10 of the 14 seats the NDP lost in the province.

One-third of the Bloc’s caucus of 32 are women—a proportion the House is close to achieving this year.

Election after election, women are eking out greater representation at the federal level. The 43rd Parliament will include 98 women MPs, up from the 88 in 2015, but three shy of the 30 per cent mark championed by Equal Voice and others as a threshold for adequate representation. That bumped Canada’s international standing by four from 61 to 57 for women’s representation in political office.

Sixty-six women are returning MPs, 10 are new but helped their parties hold existing ridings, while 22 are among the 60 ridings that flipped.

The number of Indigenous and visible minority MPs elected Oct. 21 did not change the totals elected in 2015.

Four new Indigenous MPs were elected—three in ridings that switched parties, including Conservative MP-elect Marc Dalton (Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge, B.C.), and NDP MPs-elect Leah Gazan (Winnipeg Centre, Man.) and Mumilaaq Qaqqaq (Nunavut)—but their number remains static in the House. As in 2015, 10 Indigenous MPs were elected to the House, though this year representing different parties, including six Liberals, one Conservative, two NDP, and one Independent.

The number of MPs who are visible minorities also remained static at 47, according to a preliminary analysis. The Liberals have four fewer MPs who have been identified as visible minorities, with 35, followed by nine Conservatives, and three NDP MPs.[Note: Expect that the large number of Bloc MPs impeded an increase as other parties are more diverse than the Bloc, which all appear to be “pure Laine”]

All numbers are pulled from candidate demographic profiles built by The Samara Centre for Democracy and The Hill Times, in partnership with researchers Jerome Black and Andrew Griffith, based on biographies and other online sources.

Tories lead flipped seats

The Conservatives led in flipped seats and also among former MPs trying to make it back to Parliament.

Political experience was a common thread among the successful new candidates—nearly half of the 98 new MPs cited past work as political staffers or representatives, with at least 10 sitting in provincial or territorial legislatures, and at least 14 on city council.

Of the 30 former MPs who appeared on ballots in the general election, five of the successful eight were Tories, including Mr. Williamson and Mr. Moore, Kerry-Lynne Findlay (South Surrey–White Rock, B.C.), Kyle Seeback (Dufferin-Caledon, Ont.), and Tim Uppal, who took back Edmonton Mill Woods, Alta., from Liberal cabinet minister Amarjeet Sohi.

Eight of the party’s 27 new seats came from B.C., followed by four apiece for Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario.

Bloc victorious over NDP, Grits

Several of the new Bloc MPs come to Parliament with backgrounds in education.

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet led his party’s reversal of fortunes, helping stamp out the last seats that remained from the NDP’s Orange Wave in 2011. Over two elections, the New Democrat’s 59 seats has dwindled to one, held by the popular Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, Que.).

Mr. Blanchet beat two-term NDP MP Matthew Dubé in Beloeil-Chambly as one of 10 NDP seats it flipped.

Also among the Bloc’s new cohort is Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe, the son of former Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe, who took Lac-Saint-Jean, Que., from Liberal MP Richard Hébert. It was among the nine seats the party took from the Grits.

The Liberals, meanwhile, carved a further three of its four seats from the NDP in Quebec, where many of the ridings that flipped were close races.

The NDP took three ridings back from the Liberals, including St. John’s East, N.L., after a successful bid from two-term former MP Jack Harris, who was defeated in 2015.

Human rights activist and educator Ms. Gazan beat one-term MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette by eight per cent to take Winnipeg Centre, Man., while 25-year-old Ms. Qaqqaq is representing Nunavut as one of this Parliament’s youngest MPs, and the first NDP MP to represent the region since it became a territory.

Of the seven seats the Liberals managed to flip (while losing four times that amount), Olympic medallist Adam van Koeverden’s victory in Milton, Ont., over deputy party leader Lisa Raitt was by far the biggest of the night.

And Fredericton’s new Green Party MP Jenica Atwin made history at the Liberals’ expense, when she took the seat from one-term MP Matt DeCourcey and gave the Greens its first federal seat outside of B.C.

Source: Nearly 100 new MPs offer new face of Parliament, including 60 in flipped seats

Electoral candidates shouldn’t need white-collar backgrounds

Good piece by Mike Morden of Samara:

After the votes are counted tonight, 338 candidates will be headed to Ottawa to claim their seats as members of Parliament. The other 1500-plus candidates will be headed home. For some of them, that will mean coming to terms with a rough financial picture.

Running for office in a competitive campaign is very expensive. Serious candidates have to leave or quit their jobs, forgoing income for weeks or months. Some won’t have jobs to return to, if they weren’t fortunate in having flexible employers. The self-employed will have to make up for lost time and lost clients.

Drumming up sympathy for politicians is a difficult business. But it’s important to see the costs of standing for election, because those costs mean that few of us will ever be in a financial position to run — or to do so seriously. Our political class is drawn from those who have the means. The result is a form of underrepresentation in our national politics that often goes unnoticed or unchallenged. We need to find ways to make running for office more accessible.

The Samara Centre has been working with research partners and a team of volunteers to compile demographic profiles of all 2019 federal candidates in the major parties, based on information made public in candidates’ biographies. This data, which is not yet published, reveals the predicted underrepresentations — of women, Indigenous people and people of colour. But it also reflects class- and occupation-based underrepresentations. We can’t identify the income levels of candidates, of course, but we can make some inferences based on the information available to us.

For example, on the basis of publicly available information alone, it becomes clear that most candidates hold one or more university degrees; by comparison,  fewer than 30 percent of working-age Canadians have those credentials. Lawyers, entrepreneurs and private sector executives are well represented among candidates. So are office holders from other levels of government, and some middle-class professionals like teachers. But what about service workers in retail or hospitality? What about child care workers, or tradespeople? They’re largely absent from Canada’s political class.

None of this is remotely surprising. But it should bother us more than it does.

Education and income are strong predictors of Canadians’ attitudes toward political issues and of their general views of Canadian democracy. They are stronger predictors, in many cases, than the other identities we carry. There’s evidence that working-class politicians behave differently in office, that their life experiences inform different priorities. Our white-collar parties and Parliament make substantively different decisions than they would with a more economically diverse membership. And working-class Canadians don’t see themselves reflected in their leaders, strengthening the existing tendency toward greater political dissatisfaction and distrust.

These demographic absences are reflected in how politics is done, and for whom. Indeed, the lack of a lived experience of the working class is apparent in the political discourse today, which has become peculiarly conscious of just a single class: the middle class (whoever that is). It’s also reflected in the woolly notions held by political elites about what a working-class Canadian is in 2019 (it almost always involves a hard hat).

Much of the responsibility for recruiting a more diverse candidate slate falls to the parties. But fixing economic underrepresentation, deliberately and through policy, is not easy. It involves wrestling with social and economic structures that are pervasive and deeply entrenched — beyond the reach of most available political reforms.

Nevertheless, we can think creatively about policy avenues to make political candidacy more affordable and more accessible. We can start by replacing some of the income that is lost when someone seeks office. Employment insurance provides income support for people who are unexpectedly unemployed. But it is also a tool to replace income for people who have to step away from work temporarily, to do something that is personally costly but beneficial to society — like raising a baby or caring for a sick family member. This logic can be applied to political candidacy.

The federal government should consider a new carve-out in the Employment Insurance Act, to allow registered (non-incumbent) candidates for federal, provincial and municipal elections, if they are otherwise eligible for EI, to collect it for a limited period (say, for a maximum of 50 days, which is also the maximum length of a federal campaign). Right now, candidates aren’t formally disqualified from collecting EI. But they have to be available for work and job-searching in the usual ways while collecting the benefit. Anyone who is truly campaigning full-time, with the goal of actually winning and holding office, is essentially ruled out.

This should be changed. There would be some potential for abuse, but that’s no different from the conventional uses of EI. In fact, when it becomes necessary, distinguishing between real and fake candidates would be, relatively speaking, easier to adjudicate.

It’s really important that good people put their hands up to run in our elections. It’s really important that those people aren’t only the relatively wealthy. Replacing candidates’ income is a small change. Obviously, it wouldn’t be enough to overcome the huge structural obstacles facing working-class Canadians: precarious employment, lack of time and a want of political resources like personal access and fundraising networks, to name a few. The take-up would likely be small. And it may prove that more targeted measures are needed to move the needle on working-class representation.

But it’s a simple policy step to help relieve the immediate financial costs of candidacy. It would also send a message to some of the people who most need to hear it: that whatever the political class looks like today, it’s supposed to be of you, and for you — and, in fact, it needs you.

Source: Electoral candidates shouldn’t need white-collar backgrounds