Seeking diversity, feds add inclusive language to application process for judges

Appears the main change is with respect to pronouns and some additional diversity indicators. Screen capture below (kind of interesting that “woman” is now last on the list, likely reflecting the progress that has been made):

Overall, the Liberal government has dramatically increased the diversity of judicial appointments compared to the previous Conservative government:

The Canadian government is making changes to the questionnaire prospective judges must fill out before applying for a federal judicial appointment.

The change is intended make the questionnaire more respectful by adding inclusive language for people to “self-identify diversity characteristics.”

Critics have argued Canada’s judiciary lacks diversity.

The questionnaires are a primary tool used by judicial advisory committees across the country to review candidates for the bench and submit recommendations to the minister of Justice.

Former Justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould announced a process to increase transparency, accountability and diversity in the courts in 2016, with an emphasis on selecting women and visible minorities.

The changes were made in consultation with the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Judicial Council and the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs.

Source: Seeking diversity, feds add inclusive language to application process for judges

Questionnaire link:

Elghawaby: Racial diversity is good for business but CTV, Bell Media got it horribly wrong

Of note. One of the good aspects of the CAJ surveys is that we will start being able to track trends, just as government has been able to do with respect to the public service and the federally-regulated sectors.

Haven’t looked at j-school diversity trends but hopefully will be able to do so in the 2021 census:

Angry reactions to the sudden ousting of decorated broadcaster Lisa LaFlamme from her job as CTV’s chief news anchor and senior editor haven’t abated. 

In fact, a new Dove Canada campaign encouraging people to turn social filters grey in solidarity with women “being edged out of the workplace” has added renewed energy to online chatter. That’s due to speculation that LaFlamme’s decision to keep her silver locks was among the possible reasons for her sudden dismissal.

Whether it was her hair, her strength, or her salary, what most people agree is that LaFlamme’s firing reeks of discrimination rooted in sexism and ageism.

What has been largely lost amidst the justified uproar is a full embrace of the channel’s first-ever racialized male national news anchor. 

As Global News reporter Ahmar Khan tweeted: “Omar Sachedina is very much deserving of the role and is well-respected amongst journalists, but Bell Media’s treatment of Lisa LaFlamme overshadows it all. A Muslim man helming the biggest National news program — history. But, diversity doesn’t cover the gaps of mistreatment.”

Khan was reacting to the instant blowback Sachedina received to his poorly timed tweet announcing his new role. 

For racialized communities, who are too often missing from Canada’s newsrooms, particularly in leadership positions, it feels impossible to celebrate this historic moment. 

Yet, it’s critical to remember how far behind the nation’s newsrooms are when it comes to representation and inclusion. A lack of diversity hurts both their bottom lines and our democracy.

A 2021 paper from the World Economic Forum titled,“Tackling Diversity and Inclusion in the Newsroom,” explored how racial diversity is crucial to the success of the media industry.

“The Poynter Institute, a non-profit journalism education and research organization, reports that trust in the media is particularly low in communities that have long felt ignored or misrepresented by mainstream news outlets. News outlets cannot expect to hold or grow the attention of a diverse group of readers without accounting for their diversity in the newsgathering and news reporting process,” reads the paper. 

It goes on to point to a 2018 study from the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, which shows how diverse companies outperform those that aren’t as diverse, leading to a 36 per cent increase of profitability. This is often attributed to healthier work environments, which foster growth and innovation.

In Canada, we’re barely even catching up to the racial realities of our newsrooms, as the Canadian Association of Journalists pointed out last year in one of the most comprehensive analyses of newsroom diversity ever published (in which Bell Media’s CTV refused to participate).

That survey collected race-based data on 3,783 journalists in 209 newsrooms and the results were disheartening. It found that almost half of all Canadian newsrooms exclusively employed white journalists, and that about nine in 10 newsrooms have no Latin, Middle Eastern or mixed race journalists on staff. 

About eight in 10 newsrooms have no Black or Indigenous journalists; two-thirds have no Asian people on staff. Eighty per cent of newsrooms have no visible minority journalists in any of the top-three editorial positions: editor-in-chief, executive producer, or deputy editor.

This impacts the quality of political news we receive, with racialized candidates viewed as “outsiders.” This biased lens means they receive more negative coverage than white candidates, according to Erin Tolley, assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto, and author of the 2016 book, “Framed: Media and the Coverage of Race in Canadian Politics.”

So, for communities sometimes underserved or stereotyped by mainstream media, it’s a good day when a racialized journalist steps into a leadership role.

Except when it happens under circumstances like the one both Sachedina and LaFlamme found themselves in. That’s on Bell Media.

Source: Racial diversity is good for business but CTV, Bell Media got it horribly wrong

USA: Board Diversity Is Sacrificed When Companies Underperform, Study Finds

Of note but not particularly surprising:

Companies that are underperforming in comparison to their competitors or to their goals are more likely to experience a decrease in racial and gender diversity rates on their boards, a newly released study has found.

Researchers at Imperial College Business School in London tracked data from more than 700 U.S. firms from 1996 to 2013 to make the assessment.

Dr. HeeJung Jung, Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at Imperial College Business School, and lead researcher of the study, tells TIME that this phenomenon is not deliberate, but rather a result of the pressure firms face to better adapt and begin performing well. Leaders search for a quick solution, but boards can become less inclusive as executives minimize their boards, or unconsciously seek directors that have similar ascriptive backgrounds.
[time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”]

“The board deliberately seeks new expertise and new perspectives among a variety of industries and backgrounds in the belief that it might rescue the company. But while this expertise came from a range of sectors, that’s as far as the diversity goes, in terms of race and gender,” Jung says.

Despite ongoing conversations about racial equity becoming more prevalent across the U.S., particularly after the murder of George Floyd in 2020, when companies made public pledges to better address racial inequality, Jung says that there is still a lot of fluctuation when looking at racial and gender diversity rates across corporate America.

In 2021, women comprised just 27% of board seats among the 3,000 largest publicly traded companies incorporated in the U.S., and only 6% of those seats were held by women of color, according to a report by the Women Business Collaborative. Men of color held 9% of board seats in the same year. Black board membership increased by nearly a third in 2021, but accounted for only 6.4% of directors overall.

Jung notes that companies will always experience periods of growth and decline, making more consistent strides for diversity and inclusion among the workforce difficult. The problem is, diversity is not a priority for companies when profits decrease, Jung says. “In their view, diversity efforts or DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion] matters last, it becomes a second matter or a second goal.”

Some countries in Europe have safeguards in place that would prevent progress on board diversity being rolled back. Gender diversity quotas are common in nations like France, Norway, Spain and Iceland, where women must make up at least 40% of boards at publicly traded companies, according to the Harvard Business Review.

While research about the benefits of gender-based diversity in the U.S. has shown mixed results, Jung says this may be because, despite great strides in female leadership, American corporate culture has not yet normalized it. One of the roadblocks to progress that female CEOs often face is pushback from teams, including constant cross-checking of their decisions to verify that they are acting “correctly,” Jung says.

“That causes an efficiency problem, and in a time of crisis where speed is important for any corporation, having this is a delay in decisions [and] makes directors [from underrepresented backgrounds] doubt their leadership too,” Jung told TIME.

Diversity efforts in corporate America

Currently, the U.S. has no federal policy that mandates inclusivity, though that has not stopped local governments from attempting to implement changes. States like Washington, for instance, require at least a quarter of a public company’s board to be women. In California, a law, passed in 2020, requiring public companies to have greater racial and gender diversity on their boards, was struck down in April, according to the New York Times, but the state still has a 2018 law in effect that forces companies to have at least one woman on their board.

In some cases, business leaders have created their own solutions. Last year, Nasdaq secured regulatory approval for plans to require listed companies to share diversity data about their boards of directors. Companies without at least two diverse directors, including one who self-identifies as a woman and one who identifies as an underrepresented minority or LGBTQ+, are required to explain their lack of diversity.

Having executives from underrepresented backgrounds in positions of leadership helps too. Jung’s study found that when board member chairs come from underrepresented groups, they are less likely to sacrifice the gender and racial diversity of their board in response to a downturn.

But, as Jung states, retaining diverse talent requires companies to take the important first step of creating corporate norms that recognize the value of having diverse teams. “It’s not only about bringing [diverse candidates] in but also making them play an important role in the board and change the norms,” she says. “There’s a lot of positive benefits and corporations have to be very sensitive about and must pay attention to make a better strategy for their boardroom structures and who they are going to appoint.”

Source: Board Diversity Is Sacrificed When Companies Underperform, Study Finds

Britain’s Surprisingly Diverse Tories

Significant, with interesting contrast with the base:

Fed up with Boris Johnson, Britain needs a new prime minister. It’s so fed up, in fact, that the next prime minister may look nothing like Johnson—that is, white, male, privately educated. The last time the Conservatives held a leadership contest, in 2019, the field of 10 contenders contained just one person of an ethnic-minority background and only two women. This time is remarkably different. Of those originally in contention, half were of ethnic-minority backgrounds and half were women. Until today’s initial selection, Britain could have had in Rishi Sunak or Suella Braverman its first Asian prime minister, in Kemi Badenoch its first Black prime minister, or in Nadhim Zahawi its first Kurdish and Muslim prime minister. (Zahawi has been eliminated, but Sunak, Braverman, and Badenoch remain in a field of six hoping to advance to the final stage of voting, slated for September 5.)

That such milestones could be achieved by a distinctly right-of-center party may seem odd—ironic, even—given the international left’s perceived patent on diversity and multiculturalism. But in Britain, the Conservatives have the best track record of political firsts, including the first Jewish prime minister in Benjamin Disraeli and the first female prime minister in Margaret Thatcher. Sajid Javid, whose recent resignation as health secretary led to the flood of Tory ministerial departures that toppled Johnson, was not only the first British Asian to put himself forward for the position of prime minister in 2019 but also the first ethnic-minority chancellor and home secretary. The Conservatives have produced the first female home secretary of an ethnic-minority background, the first Black chairman of one of Britain’s major political parties, and the first Muslim to attend the cabinet.

Conservatives haven’t always championed diversity in this way. Although the party elected its first lawmaker of Asian descent, Mancherjee Bhownaggree, in 1895, it would take nearly a century to do so again, this time with the election of Nirj Deva in 1992. Britain didn’t get its first British Asian woman in the House of Commons until in 2010 (when two were elected at once). Only five years ago did a British Asian ascend to one of the great offices of state for the first time (with Javid’s appointment as home secretary in 2018).

I reached out to Sunder Katwala, the director of British Future, a think tank that specializes in ethnicity and identity, to understand why the Conservative Party in particular has led Britain to this historic moment and what it reveals about the country’s sense of self.

“The pace of change of this development is absolutely extraordinary,” he said. In his view, this Conservative field represents “probably the most ethnically diverse contest for party leadership that has been seen in any major party in any democracy. For a party of the right of center, it’s off the scale.”

Diversity, after all, is generally regarded as a progressive shibboleth, not a Tory one. But as Katwala told me, this shift in representation among Conservatives did not happen organically but was the result of a years-long effort spurred by the former Conservative leader and prime minister David Cameron. When Cameron took over in 2005, the party claimed just two ethnic-minority members of Parliament, and he set out to ensure that his party more closely resembled the modern Britain it hoped to lead.

The next year, Cameron introduced a priority list of female and ethnic-minority candidates to be selected, many for safe Conservative seats. By the next election, the number of Conservative female MPs had risen from 17 to 49, and ethnic-minority MPs had increased from two to 11. Today, those figures stand at 87 and 22, respectively. By diversifying his party “at the top and from the top,” Katwala said, Cameron succeeded in transforming its image as a seemingly more inclusive and representative party, even if, in reality, it continued to lag behind the Labour Party in the diversity of its parliamentary caucus. In the House of Commons, more than half of Labour’s nearly 200 MPs are women and 41 are of ethnic-minority backgrounds—although Labour has so far failed to elect a woman or minority leader.

But Cameron’s diversity from above has not trickled down, and the Tory grass roots remain overwhelmingly male and white. Nor has the change of image necessarily resulted in more minority votes. During the last general election, the Conservatives stayed stuck at roughly 20 percent of the ethnic-minority vote compared with Labour’s 64 percent.

According to the party’s critics on the left, the Tories’ embrace of diversity among their senior ranks has hardly made Conservative politics more progressive either. Many of the party’s ethnic-minority leadership hopefuls are, in fact, among its most hard-line politicians on policy issues such as immigration, Brexit, and the rights of transgender people. The multicultural composition of the current leadership field seems only to have consolidated support for the Johnson government’s harsh plan of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda in a bid to deter illegal migration—a policy all of the candidates back.

Faiza Shaheen, an economist specializing in inequality and social mobility and a former Labour Party parliamentary candidate, told me that the prevailing belief in progressive circles is that increased diversity naturally leads to policies that benefit the most disadvantaged communities. She regards this belief as misguided because the benefits have not materialized—rather, the reverse. “You have this weird conundrum when you have more Black and brown people in senior, powerful positions, but policies that disproportionately hurt people of color,” she told me. Shaheen also pointed out that although the Conservative Party has made progress in achieving more ethnic diversity, social class and economic status remain significant dividing lines between those with access to power and those without.

Another part of the paradox of the Tory leadership contest is that although the contenders themselves are representative of a more diverse Britain, the voters will be that far less diverse electorate of roughly 200,000 Conservative Party members. Still, notes Katwala, many of the leadership contenders’ personal stories offer an optimistic, patriotic view of Britain that goes down well with the party faithful.

“There is no doubt at all that the Conservative Party membership can vote for an Asian or Black candidate,” he said. “The only people who doubt that are liberal progressives who are projecting assumptions and stereotypes onto the Tory Party membership, and maybe onto the voters that switch to the Conservatives at the general election, to say, ‘They won’t do that.’”

The latest leadership polling of party members, which puts Badenoch and Sunak among the top contenders to the front-runner Penny Mordaunt, shows that they’d have very little hesitation about doing so.

Source: Britain’s Surprisingly Diverse Tories

Ontario 2022 Election MPP Diversity

Had some time to do a quick review on the diversity of Ontario MPPs elected in 2022. Citizen percentages are from the 2016 census with the percentage of visible minorities likely to increase by a few percentage points in the 2021 census.

  • Percentage of women MPPs has declined from 39.5 percent
  • Percentage of visible minority MPPs has increased from 21 percent.
  • Percentage of Indigenous MPPs has from 7.5 percent.

The declines in the percentage of women and Indigenous peoples reflect the PCs picking up a number of NDP seats.

Australia: Multicultural groups welcome federal government’s move to collect ethnicity data

Another long overdue step:

The federal government has announced it will begin collecting ethnicity data as part of measuring diversity in Australia, a move long called for by experts and multicultural community groups.

Key points:

  • Comparable countries like the US, Canada and New Zealand collect data about ethnicity to measure diversity
  • Experts say failure to understand the make up of multicultural Australia hindered COVID-19 responses
  • The federal government aims to collect ethnicity data at the next census

Country of birth and language spoken at home have historically been the main diversity indicators used by Australian government agencies.

But experts say this does not adequately capture the diversity of the community — not least because many Australians from diverse backgrounds are born in Australia and speak English.

“Australia does not effectively measure our diversity,” Andrew Giles, the new Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, told a conference in Melbourne.

He said Australia’s failure to collect data on ethnicity or race — unlike the US, Canada and New Zealand — was a “fundamental barrier to understanding the issues that face multicultural Australians”.

“I looked at the sort of countries that we often compare ourselves to … and we weren’t compiling data that enables us to understand the representation of different population groups,” Mr Giles told the ABC at the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (FECCA) conference.

“This became a much bigger issue, of course, during the pandemic, where we saw really uneven health impacts, particularly in the vaccination rollout.”

Last year, the ABC reported that while the federal government had committed to sourcing ethnicity data during COVID-19 testing and vaccination, Victoria was the only state collecting data on ethnicity.

This was despite indications that culturally and linguistically diverse communities were being harder-hit by coronavirus outbreaks, such as those in Western Sydney and public housing towers in Melbourne.

“The pandemic showed us some pretty hard truths about our society,” Mr Giles said.

“The truth someone born in the Middle East was 10 times as likely to have died during the pandemic, than someone born in Australia, is unacceptable.”

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data to January 2021 showed that Australian residents born in the Middle East and North Africa were over 10  times more likely to die of coronavirus than people born in Australia.

Those born in South-East Asia and southern and central Asia, meanwhile, were around twice as likely to die of COVID.

“That is the most extreme example of many about our failures to ensure that everyone was counted, and everyone was supported, through a difficult time. I don’t want that to happen again,” Mr Giles said.

A culturally and linguistically diverse data collection working group with representatives from peak multicultural bodies, along with data collection and demography experts, would be established to develop national standards for diversity data collection, Mr Giles said.

The pandemic showed there was a “gaping hole” in the data collected about the Australian population, according to FECCA chief executive Mohammad al-Khafaji.

“COVID has provided that opportunity for us to actually look seriously at the systemic barriers for us to address this issue,” he said.

Mr al-Khafaji welcomed Mr Giles’s announcement, saying he was pleased the new government recognised it as a priority.

“We’ve been calling for this for the past few years, and we’re glad that that call has been answered,” he said.

“If you’re not counted, you don’t know that you exist, and the programs and the policies won’t reflect the diversity of Australia today.”

Ahead of the 2021 census, people from Asian and Pacific Islands ethnic minority backgrounds told the ABC the Australian Bureau of Statistics was not accurately capturing their ancestry.

Mr Giles said he wanted the changes to inform the next census in 2026.

“The data set we have about this is imprecise, because place of birth doesn’t really tell us the full story about who someone is, how they identify, and that’s why we do need to get better data,” he said.

Race Commissioner wants more data on racism

Australia’s Racial Discrimination Commissioner, Chin Tan, also welcomed Mr Giles’s announcement of the shift towards collecting more detailed data on diversity, calling it a “positive move”.

“We are now looking at focusing on an area that we should have taken care of a long time ago,” Mr Tan said.

“For me it’s a positive move to get more information that will support multicultural communities and support Australia in advancing multiculturalism.”

He told the ABC the Australian Human Rights Commission wanted to see greater data collection on race issues and racism.

“While we applaud and will support initiatives toward multicultural data collection, we are also looking at data collection that will capture race and race issues in this country as well,” Mr Tan said.

He said Australia was still “lagging far behind” other countries in terms of multicultural policies and programs.

“Our multicultural future needs to be enhanced, and needs to be strengthened, and reinforced,” Mr Tan said.

“We need to have policies and programs, and funding obviously, to support that.”

Source: Multicultural groups welcome federal government’s move to collect ethnicity data

Scofield: Canada’s worker shortage has one big upside for employers

And employees:

The supertight job market that is bedevilling employers and the Bank of Canada alike has an upside: it has managed to do quickly what employment equity practices and public policy have struggled with for years.

It has drawn in racialized workers, new immigrants, young people, older workers and women in astounding numbers, making history along the way.

Whether that kind of inclusion can last, however, is an open question that will depend on employers and public-policy makers alike.

For one, the current pace of hiring is not likely to last.

In May, the unemployment rate hit a record low of 5.1 per cent, Statistics Canada reported on Friday. Employers created just 39,800 new positions over the course of a month — solid although nothing to write home about.

Still, from the start of the pandemic, the job market is now 497,000 positions larger than it was back then. In other words, after all of the ups and downs, closures and reopenings, illness and fear, that’s half a million more jobs than what we used to have, and it speaks to the resilience of the Canadian labour market.

That resilience has benefited a wide array of people who used to have a hard time getting a fair shake.

Let’s look at workers between the ages of 25 and 54 years old, to start. First Nations women in that age bracket have seen their unemployment rate plunge 9.3 percentage points over the past year to 7.3 per cent. Southeast Asian women have a 4.1 per cent unemployment rate, which is 6.3 percentage points lower than a year ago. Filipino men have a 3.4 per cent unemployment rate, down 4.7 points on the year.

Participation rates — how many people are actively working or looking for work — are also proof of significant progress for some key demographics. The participation rate is at a record high for women aged 25 to 54, at 85 per cent. That’s still lower than men of the same age (91.9 per cent), but after all of the troubles women had at the beginning of the pandemic, it’s remarkable.

The experience of newcomers to Canada is also eye-opening, says Brendon Bernard, senior economist at jobs website He points out that immigrants who have been in Canada for five years or less are jumping into the job market in leaps and bounds, and they’re landing pretty good jobs.

Before the pandemic, their participation rate was 76.5 per cent. Now, it’s 84.3 per cent. And wage data shows they’re being hired into higher-income areas.

“One of Canada’s longest-standing labour market challenges has been the underemployment of newcomers. And there really has been a noticeable shift,” Bernard said in an interview.

Can it all last? Or will the pending slowdown in the Canadian economy make for “last hired, first fired” and erase the gains for demographics that have been struggling to catch up?

Jean-François Perrault, chief economist at Scotiabank, suggests it can actually last. For sure, hiring is set to slow down as the economy overheats and the central bank moves to cool it off by dramatically raising interest rates. But at the same time, Perrault points out there are about one million vacancies in the job market right now, and they’re not just going to evaporate with a slowing economy.

“There’s this huge backlog of jobs to fill,” he said. For companies hoping to just get by day to day, “these vacancies are massive, and they’re critical.”

He suspects even if the pace of hiring slows down over the next few months, vacancies will remain high. So employers are deeply concerned about long-standing labour shortages and they’ll hang on to their workers for as long as they can. It’s just too hard to ramp back up.

For politicians, this means they can’t really afford to let up on their policy attempts to draw more people into the workforce, even if the job numbers soften.

Even if there’s a downturn, the long-standing trend toward an aging population means Canada will need to encourage older workers and women to join the workforce in greater numbers over the next few years.

Ottawa’s $30-billion child care strategy was supposed to dramatically increase women’s participation in the workforce, but it has been slow to fully gear up. The returns, in terms of labour participation, are likely still years away.

And the federal Liberals are unlikely to reverse their dedication to retiring at 65 to encourage older workers to stay in the workforce longer.

But if employers and policy-makers are wise, they’ll take a look at what the tight job market has accomplished for them, appreciate what the gains to inclusivity have done for their workforce, and then lock them in.

The next slowdown doesn’t have to set us back.

Source: Canada’s worker shortage has one big upside for employers

Australia election: Why is Australia’s parliament so white?

More on the lack of diversity among Australian politiciants:

Australia is one of the most multicultural nations in the world, but it’s a different story in the country’s politics, where 96% of federal lawmakers are white.

With this year’s election, political parties did have a window to slightly improve this. But they chose not to in most cases, critics say.

Tu Le grew up the child of Vietnamese refugees in Fowler, a south-west Sydney electorate far from the city’s beaches, and one of the poorest urban areas in the country.

The 30-year-old works as a community lawyer for refugees and migrants newly arrived to the area.

Last year, she was pre-selected by the Labor Party to run in the nation’s most multicultural seat. But then party bosses side-lined her for a white woman.

It would take Kristina Kenneally four hours on public transport – ferry, train, bus, and another bus – to get to Fowler from her home in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, where she lived on an island.

Furious locals questioned what ties she had to the area, but as one of Labor’s most prominent politicians, she was granted the traditionally Labor-voting seat.

Ms Le only learned she’d been replaced on the night newspapers went to print with the story.

“I was conveniently left off the invitation to the party meeting the next day,” she told the BBC.

Despite backlash – including a Facebook group where locals campaigned to stop Ms Kenneally’s appointment – Labor pushed through the deal.

“If this scenario had played out in Britain or the United States, it would not be acceptable,” says Dr Tim Soutphomassane, director of the Sydney Policy Lab and Australia’s former Race Discrimination Commissioner.

“But in Australia, there is a sense that you can still maintain the status quo with very limited social and political consequences.”

An insiders’ game

At least one in five Australians have a non-European background and speak a language at home other than English, according to the last census in 2016.

Some 49% of the population was born or has a parent who was born overseas. In the past 20 years, migrants from Australia’s Asian neighbours have eclipsed those from the UK.

But the parliament looks almost as white as it did in the days of the “White Australia” policy – when from 1901 to the 1970s, the nation banned non-white immigrants.

“We simply do not see our multicultural character represented in anything remotely close to proportionate form in our political institutions,” says Dr Soutphomassane.

Compared to other Western multicultural democracies, Australia also lags far behind.

The numbers below include Indigenous Australians, who did not gain suffrage until the 1960s, and only saw their first lower house MP elected in 2010. Non-white candidates often acknowledge that any progress was first made by Aboriginal Australians.

Racial representation: parliament v population. .  .

Two decades ago, Australia and the UK had comparably low representation. But UK political parties – responding to campaigns from diverse members – pledged to act on the problem.

“The British Conservative Party is currently light years ahead of either of the major Australian political parties when it comes to race and representation,” says Dr Soutphomassane.

Progress in diverse political representation. .  .

So why hasn’t Australia changed?

Observers say Australia’s political system is more closed-door than other democracies. Nearly all candidates chosen by the major parties tend to be members who’ve risen through the ranks. Often they’ve worked as staffers to existing MPs.

Ms Le said she’d have no way into the political class if she hadn’t been sponsored by Fowler’s retiring MP – a white, older male.

Labor has taken small structural steps recently – passing commitments in a state caucus last year, and selecting two Chinese-Australian candidates for winnable seats in Sydney.

But it was “one step forward and two steps back”, says party member and activist Osmond Chiu, when just weeks after the backlash to Ms Le’s case, Labor “parachuted in” another white candidate to a multicultural heartland.

Andrew Charlton, a former adviser to ex-PM Kevin Rudd, lived in a harbour mansion in Sydney’s east where he ran a consultancy.

His selection scuppered the anticipated races of at least three diverse candidates from the area which has large Indian and Chinese diasporas.

Source: Australia election: Why is Australia’s parliament so white?

[Canadian] Military failing to remove barriers to diversifying ranks: ombudsman

Long-standing challenge:

Canada’s military ombudsman is joining the chorus of those accusing the Canadian Armed Forces and Defence Department of failing to address long-standing barriers to recruit and retain more women, visible minorities and Indigenous people.

Gregory Lick says in a new report that the military and department have adopted numerous initiatives over the last 20 years to increase the share of Armed Forces members who come from those underrepresented groups.

The moves followed several human-rights decisions and the passage of employment equity laws, amid a growing disconnect between the makeup of the military, predominantly composed of white males, and the rest of the country’s population.

Yet the ombudsman found those initiatives resulted in little progress on increasing representation from underrepresented groups, with the military consistently falling far short of its own targets.

“I am adamant that in order to not repeat the same mistakes, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces need to do things differently,” Lick said in a statement Monday.

“Fresh and creative thinking is required. Rehashing former initiatives simply will not cut it. Period. We will continue to monitor developments within the defence community in order to inform our own next steps on this matter.”

The ombudsman’s report comes weeks after a panel of retired Armed Forces members released the results of its own review, which took the military to task for not acting on dozens of previous studies and reviews of racism in the organization.

The scathing anti-racism report, which followed a yearlong review ordered by then-defence minister Harjit Sajjan, also accused the military of not doing enough to detect and prevent white supremacists and other extremists from infiltrating its ranks.

Lick’s review, also requested by Sajjan, looked at efforts to increase the share of women, visible minorities and Indigenous people in the Defence Department and military since becoming subject to employment equity laws in 1997 and 2002, respectively.

It specifically noted the military’s failure to make any real progress toward its various targets, which include having 25.1 per cent of all Armed Forces members be women, 11.8 per cent be visible minorities and 3.5 per cent Indigenous people.

“Despite the CAF’s efforts over the past 19 years, the percentage of women members stagnated until 2019, when a one-per-cent increase brought that representation level to 16 per cent of all CAF members,” the report reads.

“The limited increase in Aboriginal peoples (2.8 per cent) and visible minority members (9.6 per cent) has not been sufficient to keep up with Canadian demographics,” it adds.

The report goes on to note that not only has the Armed Forces failed to achieve its targets, but that those targets have been repeatedly criticized by the Canadian Human Rights Commission and others as far too low given the country’s changing composition.

The Defence Department reported more success in terms of diversifying its civilian workforce, but nonetheless faced many of the same challenges.

The ombudsman reported that his office had received 931 complaints relating to recruitment and 879 complaints involving promotions or career advancement since 2010. Another 189 workplace discrimination complaints were received.

“While designated employment equity groups did not submit all these complaints and not all would have been deemed to be unfair, these numbers show that the DND and CAF face challenges to the provision of fair and equitable employment,” he wrote.

The ombudsman noted numerous barriers to the recruitment of Armed Forces members from the designated groups had been reported over the years, including language requirements, security-clearance delays and a lack of representation among recruiters.

The review also noted that because military personnel have to start at the bottom and work their way up, fixing the recruitment process is a critical first step. Concerns were nonetheless also identified around retention and promotions.

Lick emphasized the importance of addressing the problem given what he described as a growing need for a diverse force that reflects Canadian society and is able to operate in new and innovative ways.

“With the CAF currently operating at a deficit of approximately 10,000 to 12,000 regular and reserve force members and thousands of positions unfilled in the civilian ranks, a crisis is slowly emerging,” he said.

“Critical to the ongoing success of the DND and the CAF is ensuring that people of diverse backgrounds consider a career in these organizations and see themselves reflected in their mandates.”

While past reports and reviews have proposed a number of measures to address the problems, Lick echoed the anti-racism panel’s findings about a lack of action, saying: “It is unclear whether the CAF has implemented all these initiatives.”

Although Defence Minister Anita Anand was given four weeks to respond to the ombudsman’s report before its public release, Lick said he had yet to receive a response. The Defence Department did not immediately comment Monday.

Source: Military failing to remove barriers to diversifying ranks: ombudsman

Helping Hollywood Avoid Claims of Bias Is Now a Growing Business

Business will find a way…

In the summer of 2020, not long after the murder of George Floyd spurred a racial reckoning in America, Carri Twigg’s phone kept ringing.

Ms. Twigg, a founding partner of a production company named Culture House, was asked over and over again if she could take a look at a television or movie script and raise any red flags, particularly on race.

Culture House, which employs mostly women of color, had traditionally specialized in documentaries. But after a few months of fielding the requests about scripts, they decided to make a business of it: They opened a new division dedicated solely to consulting work.

“The frequency of the check-ins was not slowing down,” Ms. Twigg said. “It was like, oh, we need to make this a real thing that we offer consistently — and get paid for.”

Though the company has been consulting for a little more than a year — for clients like Paramount Pictures, MTV and Disney — that work now accounts for 30 percent of Culture House’s revenue.

Culture House is hardly alone. In recent years, entertainment executives have vowed to make a genuine commitment to diversity, but are still routinely criticized for falling short. To signal that they are taking steps to address the issue, Hollywood studios have signed contracts with numerous companies and nonprofits to help them avoid the reputational damage that comes with having a movie or an episode of a TV show face accusations of bias.

“When a great idea is there and then it’s only talked about because of the social implications, that must be heartbreaking for creators who spend years on something,” Ms. Twigg said. “To get it into the world and the only thing anyone wants to talk about are the ways it came up short. So we’re trying to help make that not happen.”

The consulting work runs the gamut of a production. The consulting companies sometimes are asked about casting decisions as well as marketing plans. And they may also read scripts to search for examples of bias and to scrutinize how characters are positioned in a story.

“It’s not only about what characters say, it’s also about when they don’t speak,” Ms. Twigg said. “It’s like, ‘Hey, there’s not enough agency for this character, you’re using this character as an ornament, you’re going to get dinged for that.’”

When a consulting firm is on retainer, it can also come with a guaranteed check every month from a studio. And it’s a revenue stream developed only recently.

“It really exploded in the last two years or so,” said Michelle K. Sugihara, the executive director of Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, a nonprofit. The group, called CAPE, is on retainer to some of the biggest Hollywood studios, including Netflix, Paramount, Warner Bros., Amazon, Sony and A24.

Of the 100 projects that CAPE has consulted on, Ms. Sugihara said, roughly 80 percent have come since 2020, and they “really increased” after the Atlanta spa shootings in March 2021. “That really ramped up attention on our community,” she said.

Ms. Sugihara said her group could be actively involved throughout the production process. In one example, she said she told a studio that all of the actors playing the heroes in an upcoming scripted project appeared to be light-skinned East Asian people whereas the villains were portrayed by darker-skinned East Asian actors.

“That’s a red flag,” she said. “And we should talk about how those images may be harmful. Sometimes it’s just things that people aren’t even conscious about until you point it out.”

Ms. Sugihara would not mention the name of the project or the studio behind it. In interviews, many cited nondisclosure agreements with the studios and a reluctance to embarrass a filmmaker as reasons they could not divulge specifics.

Sarah Kate Ellis, the president of GLAAD, the L.G.B.T.Q. advocacy organization, said her group had been doing consulting work informally for years with the networks and studios. Finally, she decided to start charging the studios for their labor — work that she compared to “billable hours.”

“Here we were consulting with all these content creators across Hollywood and not being compensated,” said Ms. Ellis, the organization’s president since 2013. “When I started at GLAAD we couldn’t pay our bills. And meanwhile here we are with the biggest studios and networks in the world, helping them tell stories that were hits. And I said this doesn’t make sense.”

In 2018, she created the GLAAD Media Institute — if the networks or studios wanted any help in the future, they’d have to become a paying member of the institute.

Initially, there was some pushback but the networks and studios would eventually come around. In 2018, there were zero members of the GLAAD Media Institute. By the end of 2021, that number had swelled to 58, with nearly every major studio and network in Hollywood now a paying member.

Scott Turner Schofield, who has spent some time working as a consultant for GLAAD, has also been advising networks and studios on how to accurately depict transgender people for years. But he said the work had increased so significantly in recent years that he was brought on board as an executive producer for a forthcoming horror movie produced by Blumhouse.

“I’ve gone from someone who was a part-time consultant — barely eking by — to being an executive producer,” he said.

Those interviewed said that it was a win-win arrangement between the consultancies and the studios.

“The studios at the end of the day, they want to produce content but they want to make money,” said Rashad Robinson, the president of the advocacy organization Color of Change. “Making money can be impeded because of poor decisions and not having the right people at the table. So the studios are going to want to seek that.”

He did caution, however, that simply bringing on consultants was not an adequate substitute for the structural change that many advocates want to see in Hollywood.

“This doesn’t change the rules with who gets to produce content and who gets to make the final decisions of what gets on the air,” he said. “It’s fine to bring folks in from the outside but that in the end is insufficient to the fact that across the entertainment industry there is still a problem in terms of not enough Black and brown people with power in the executive ranks.”

Still, the burgeoning field of cultural consultancy work may be here to stay. Ms. Twigg, who helped found Culture House with Raeshem Nijhon and Nicole Galovski, said that the volume of requests she was getting was “illustrative of how seriously it’s being taken, and how comprehensively it’s being brought into the fabric of doing business.”

“From a business standpoint, it’s a way for us to capitalize on the expertise that we have gathered as people of color who have been alive in America for 30 or 40 years,” she said.

Source: Helping Hollywood Avoid Claims of Bias Is Now a Growing Business