Québec solidaire dévoile sa politique en matière d’inclusion

Quebec does not require Canadian citizenship as a pre-condition (Permanent Residents acceptable), nor make it a preference as does the federal government. Hence the overall number of visible minorities is a valid benchmark although I would still argue a more realistic one would the visible minority citizenship benchmark (9.9 percent):

Le Québec a un tel retard à corriger en matière d’inclusion qu’il faudrait que le secteur public se fixe un taux d’embauche de 25 % au sein des minorités visibles et ethniques jusqu’à ce que celles-ci représentent 18 % de la main-d’œuvre, affirme Québec solidaire (QS).

Convaincu d’un « coup de barre » à donner, le parti a dévoilé dimanche une politique qui, s’il était porté au pouvoir, prévoirait aussi la création de « Carrefours d’accueil en immigration ». Ceux-ci joueraient un rôle de « guichet unique » permettant d’orienter les nouveaux arrivants vers des services comme l’aide à l’emploi ou des cours de francisation.

« C’est là que le Parti libéral, qui est là depuis 15 ans, a le plus échoué : face aux nouveaux arrivants et arrivantes, face aux gens de la diversité culturelle, des minorités visibles », a dit la députée de Sainte-Marie–Saint-Jacques, Manon Massé, lors de la présentation de la politique dimanche en compagnie du député Amir Khadir, d’Andres Fontecilla, qui se présentera dans Laurier-Dorion, et de plusieurs autres candidats.

« Dans la fonction publique, il y a des règles. Elles sont à peine respectées. D’ailleurs, il manque énormément d’employés issus de la diversité culturelle au sein du secteur public », a ajouté Mme Massé. « Il faut un coup de barre. » Québec solidaire souhaite que le taux de représentation des communautés culturelles soit le même que dans la société, soit d’environ 18 %. D’ici 2024, la fonction publique devrait embaucher un « minimum » de 3750 personnes, a-t-elle dit. Le parti politique souhaite aussi travailler à la reconnaissance des compétences de l’étranger.

En mars 2017, les communautés culturelles comptaient pour 9,4 % des employés du secteur public, selon le Secrétariat du Conseil du trésor. Le gouvernement Couillard a déjà affirmé que le taux d’emploi des immigrants qui sont au Québec depuis plus de dix ans (81,9 %) est inférieur à celui des gens nés au Canada (86,2 %).

À quelques mois des élections, les annonces se succèdent. Le gouvernement Couillard a récemment annoncé une stratégie de la main-d’œuvre 2018-2023 qui promet une somme de 1,3 milliard sur cinq ans. Le plan insiste sur la francisation, mais aussi sur la réduction des délais dans la remise des certificats de sélection.

Le Parti québécois a proposé il y a deux semaines de travailler sur la sélection des immigrants en fonction notamment de leur connaissance du français. Il souhaite aussi qu’ils choisissent de s’installer pas seulement à Montréal, mais en région.

Du côté de la CAQ, des documents révélés récemment par L’actualité montrent que le parti veut mettre un accent particulier sur la francisation et souhaite réformer « en profondeur » le ministère de l’Immigration.

Outre les investissements supplémentaires en francisation, QS souhaite impliquer les entreprises. Par exemple, l’application de la loi 101, qui vise actuellement les entreprises de 50 employés et plus, couvrirait désormais les sociétés de 20 employés et plus.

Source: Québec solidaire dévoile sa politique en matière d’inclusion

Quebec: 3% de minorité visible dans la haute fonction publique

While I do not have breakdowns for senior management in all provinces (not all provide a breakdown like Quebec), this comparative chart on provincial and municipal diversity captures the overall picture (Census 2016 NAICS, visible minority numbers adjusted for citizenship):

Quelque 3% de personnes issues des minorités visibles ont été nommées à des postes de la haute fonction publique depuis 2014. Selon les données compilées par Québec solidaire (QS), parmi les 2330 personnes nommées à ces postes, seulement 72 proviennent des minorités visibles alors que celles-ci représentent 13 % de la population québécoise.

À Montréal, ce taux grimpe toutefois à 22,6 %. Bon an mal an, ce pourcentage est resté le même. De 2014 jusqu’à février 2017, le taux était de 3,7 % . En y ajoutant l’année 2018, en cours, ce taux s’établit à 3 %, selon les calculs de QS, chiffres qu’avait reconnus le Conseil exécutif.

Pour le député de QS Amir Khadir, c’est là un « constat d’échec lamentable » du gouvernement libéral au pouvoir. « Quand on parle de racisme systémique, c’est ça. La machine est structurée de telle sorte qu’elle discrimine, de manière systématique, tout ce qui n’est pas conforme. Ça vient par les accointances et les copinages au sommet », a-t-il déploré. « Si [Philippe Couillard] est sincère, il doit commencer à changer, au lieu de continuer avec des nominations partisanes et intéressées. »

En ce qui concerne plus largement la fonction publique, 9 % des effectifs sont des membres de communautés culturelles, ce qui comprend les minorités visibles et les minorités ethniques (dont la langue maternelle n’est ni le français ni l’anglais). Le gouvernement s’est engagé la semaine dernière à doubler ce pourcentage pour atteindre une cible de représentativité de 18 % des minorités.

via 3% de minorité visible dans la haute fonction publique | Le Devoir

Employment Equity in the Public Service of Canada for Fiscal Year 2016 to 2017: 2016-17 data delayed

Highly unusual for the EE data not to be included in the annual report (can’t recall this happening in recent years). The report’s explanation suggests that this is collateral damage of the Phoenix pay system.

That being said, better to take the necessary time for data verification than publish inaccurate data:

The 2016 to 2017 annual report features a 10-year trend analysis of the representation of the 4 designated groups and reports on results of initiatives that advance employment equity, diversity and inclusion. (Data for 2016 to 2017 will be provided at a later date and included with the report as an annex.) Over the past 4 years, the representation of each employment equity group in the core public administration has exceeded workforce availability. However, gaps persist in some departments and in certain occupational groups. We will continue our efforts to close these gaps.

…. Statistical tables for the 2016 to 2017 fiscal year in 7 areas will be published following:

  • retrieval of data from the Phoenix pay system
  • reconciliation of data with sources from the Public Service Commission of Canada and from departments and agencies
  • validation of the accuracy of the data to be published

via Employment Equity in the Public Service of Canada for Fiscal Year 2016 to 2017 – Canada.ca

No sign of bias against government job-seekers with ethnic-sounding names, pilot project finds

Given the overall employment equity numbers, and how representation at both the all employee and executive levels has continued to increase, not overly surprising but nevertheless helpful to have tested for bias:

Hiding ethnic-sounding names from resumes has no real bearing on who’s picked from the pile of applications for jobs in the federal public service, according to a pilot project on blind hiring.

A report released Tuesday by the Public Service Commission shows visible minorities were short-listed at roughly the same rate through a name-blind recruitment process (46 per cent) as through a traditional process (47 per cent).

“For visible minorities, results indicated no significant effect on the screening decisions of applications,” the report concludes.

The federal government launched the name-blind hiring pilot project last April to reduce bias in recruitment based on the names and ethnic origins of potential candidates.

In a blog post today, Treasury Board president Scott Brison said the pilot project aimed to see if unconscious bias was undermining hiring processes and the government’s efforts to build a more diverse public service.

He called the pilot “ground-breaking” and says it’s in line with the government’s focus on innovation and experimentation.

“The project did not uncover bias, but the findings do contribute to a growing body of knowledge,” he wrote.

“They provide us with insights to further explore in our steadfast support of diversity and inclusion in the public service; two critical characteristics of an energized, innovative and effective workforce, able to meet the demands of our ever-changing world.”

17 departments participated

The pilot project included 17 departments and 27 external hiring processes between April and October 2017. It had a sample of 2,226 applicants, including 685 members of visible minorities (just under 31 per cent.)

Jobs were in the scientific and professional, administrative and foreign service, technical and administrative support, and operational fields.

Applications in the blind process had the name, citizenship, country of origin, mailing address, spoken languages, references to religion, and names of educational institutions removed. The objective was to determine if applicants with ethnic-sounding names were disadvantaged in the screening process.

While the findings did not reveal any bias, the report notes that reviewers were aware they were participating in the blind recruitment project, and that “this awareness could have potentially affected their assessment.”

Because the number of candidates who self-declared as Indigenous (73, or three per cent), or disabled (102, or five per cent,) was small, the analysis was limited to visible minorities.

Among the participating departments were National Defence; Natural Resources; Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; Global Affairs, the RCMP and Statistics Canada.

Similar studies

The report notes other studies on blind hiring have had mixed results.

A 2011 study in the Australian Public Service found that de-identifying applications at the short-listing stage did not appear to help promote diversity.

“In fact, when all candidate’s information was made available, reviewers discriminated in favour of female and visible minority candidates,” the report reads.

Benefits of name-blind recruitment may be partly dependent on the context of the organization, including whether discrimination is present in the hiring process and whether the organization has policies aimed at improving diversity.

In October 2015, the U.K. Civil Service implemented name-blind recruitment to reduce unconscious bias and boost diversity, but no systematic review of the impact has been carried out yet.

via No sign of bias against government job-seekers with ethnic-sounding names, pilot project finds – Politics – CBC News

ICYMI – Immigration: Gérard Bouchard plaide pour des quotas d’embauche | Réjean Bourdeau | Actualités

Interesting. Personally, I favour the federal approach of transparency and annual reporting for the public service and federally-regulated sectors, which has worked reasonably well over the last 25 years or so but Quebec numbers, last time I checked, are particularly low:

Que faut-il faire pour voir grandir le sentiment d’appartenance des immigrants à l’égard du Québec?

Il faut réussir leur intégration économique et sociale. Quelqu’un d’exclu et victime de discrimination ne développera jamais de sentiment d’appartenance. Pour sensibiliser quelqu’un et pour le faire vibrer à nos valeurs, il faut d’abord lui donner un travail. Et là-dessus, on a vraiment mal joué nos cartes. Le sous-emploi chez les immigrants bouge peu parce qu’on ne fait pas ce qu’il faut. Le gouvernement pourrait mettre en oeuvre des programmes. Une espèce d’affirmative action, comme ils ont fait aux États-Unis pour créer une classe moyenne afro-américaine. Ça prendrait quelque chose de massif, de déterminé. Qui serait soutenu par la population. Qui serait enveloppé dans un discours. Mais nous, on ne le fait pas.

Pourquoi on ne le fait pas?

Il n’y a pas de volonté politique pour ça. Quand il y a eu la tuerie dans la mosquée de Québec en janvier dernier, le premier ministre Couillard a dit : «Il y a eu un avant et il y aura un après.» Ça laissait entendre que cet événement avait été d’une horreur telle que plus rien n’allait se passer de la même manière. Qu’on allait changer les choses en profondeur. Mais il n’y a rien eu. Ce n’est pas la loi 62 (respect de la neutralité religieuse de l’État) qui va régler les problèmes. Et la Consultation sur la discrimination systémique et le racisme n’a pas levé. Ça s’est transformé en Forum sur la valorisation de la diversité et la lutte contre la discrimination qui a lui-même commencé à branler.

Quel type de politique d’intégration faut-il mettre en oeuvre pour offrir des emplois aux immigrants?

Il faut créer des conditions favorables pour réparer le retard social qu’ils ont accusé. Alors, ça va prendre un discours politique qui a beaucoup d’autorité pour faire accepter ça à la population. Parce que plusieurs pourraient dire : «Non, non, l’égalité, ce sont les mêmes conditions pour tout le monde.» Mais il va falloir faire plus que ça, parce que là, c’est quelque chose de structurel.

Que proposez-vous?

Il faut instituer des quotas. Un peu comme on l’a fait pour l’égalité hommes-femmes. Ça, ce sont des choses très concrètes. On fixe la barre. Par exemple, il faut qu’il y ait la moitié des femmes dans les conseils d’administration. Et il y a des organismes de surveillance pour voir comment ça se passe. Pour les travailleurs immigrants, on pourrait soumettre les entreprises à certaines règles pour l’embauche. Bref, il y a plein de mesures qui pourraient être appliquées. Mais il faudrait que ce soit enveloppé dans un discours politique qui rend la chose acceptable à l’ensemble de la population. Autrement, ça va passer pour une injustice, pour des privilèges aux immigrants. Et ce discours-là est déjà présent.

Pourquoi les travailleurs immigrants sont-ils moins recherchés?

D’abord, il y a une forme de corporatisme quand vient le temps de reconnaître les diplômes obtenus à l’étranger. De plus, il y a, étrangement, certaines résistances syndicales à l’embauche d’immigrants dans la fonction publique. Ensuite, du côté des PME, on se tourne souvent vers des connaissances, des parents (appelons ça «le facteur cousin»), quand vient le temps d’engager. Ce facteur est beaucoup moins présent dans les multinationales.

Quels sont les impacts de ce type de discrimination?

Je me suis souvent fait dire par des immigrants, ou par des membres des minorités, qui étaient sans emploi : «M. Bouchard, votre modèle d’interculturalisme, ça a du bon sens, mais pourquoi ce serait très important pour nous… on n’a pas d’emplois. Nos enfants nous regardent et nous demandent pourquoi on ne travaille pas.» Si quelqu’un n’a pas d’emploi, il ne peut pas rêver. Le sensibiliser à nos symboles, à nos valeurs, à nos combats, ça ne marche pas. Il faut d’abord qu’il retrouve un sens de la dignité. Un grand nombre d’immigrants sont humiliés de ne pas avoir d’emploi et de vivre aux crochets de la société dans laquelle ils vivent.

via Immigration: Gérard Bouchard plaide pour des quotas d’embauche | Réjean Bourdeau | Actualités

Diversity in the public service’s executive ranks

My latest, looking at how women, visible minorities and Indigenous people are represented in the highest ranks of the federal public service (DMs and EXs).

The following two charts summarize the historical evolution of how transparency and regular reporting have resulted in a more diverse public service at the overall and executive levels:

Source: Diversity in the public service’s executive ranks

Canada is a leader in public sector gender equality, says new report

Stay tuned for my upcoming analysis of current and historical EX diversity (women, visible minorities and Indigenous peoples):

Canada is a global leader when it comes to gender equality in the public sector’s senior levels, according to a recent report by Global Government Forum, a research group focused on issues facing civil servants.

At 46.4 per cent, Canada has the highest proportion of female senior civil servants of any G20 country, according to the report. Australia and South Africa trail close behind at 43.3 and 41.1 per cent, respectively.

“This kind of progress produces big rewards in terms of better decision-making, bigger talent pools and, ultimately, stronger public service delivery for the public,” Kevin Sorkin, Global Government Forum’s managing director said in a written statement.

“But there is more work to do: we hope that publishing this data will help senior officials both to make the case for change, and to identify the best ways to make progress.”

The index records the proportion of women employed in the top five grades of the senior civil service in each of the G20 countries. This group comprises of roughly the top one per cent of public officials, defined as non-elected senior executives across federal or national governments, or the executive ranks of the core civil service in central government.

In the report, Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick describes Canada as an early adopter of equal rights and anti-discrimination policies, arguing that the country is now experiencing a third wave of gender equality.

“First there were the real pioneers – the first women in jobs or at various tables – then the second wave was probably in the ‘90s, when you saw more and more women in positions of responsibility and the numbers started to move up quite a bit.

“So now we’re in the third wave, which is more about workplace culture: how meetings are conducted; avoiding ‘mansplaining’ and ‘manterruption’; tackling unconscious bias – that more subtle and nuanced stuff.”

Alongside the data on senior civil servants, the report includes figures about the proportion of women among the G20 member nations’ cabinet ministers, national parliamentarians, and directors on the boards of publicly-quoted private companies. A separate section tracks the proportion of women among the most senior civil service leaders of EU countries.

The research was supported by international business services firm EY, formerly known as Ernst & Young.

The top five G20 countries in the 2016-17 Index are:

  • Canada (46.4 per cent)
  • Australia (43.3 per cent)
  • South Africa (41.1 per cent)
  • U.K. (40.1 per cent)
  • Brazil (37.8 per cent)

Wernick said in a statement to the Citizen that “there has been some real leadership on increasing representation of women in positions across the full spectrum of public service jobs, starting with getting more women to the table and then into positions of responsibility.

“We are now tackling some tough issues with respect to inclusive workplaces, and the dialogue has shifted beyond representation and binary definitions of gender, to diversity as an asset that helps us better serve Canadians and creating a workplace where all employees feel engaged and respected,” Wernick said.

Source: Canada is a leader in public sector gender equality, says new report | Ottawa Citizen

Report link: Canada tops gender equality ranking – but Australia gaining fast. More…

Your name may dictate your apartment, degree, and career: Kutty

Ironically, although singling out the federal public service and its pilot project, Kutty is silent on the overall numbers which are largely representative of the visible minority population who are also Canadian citizens – 15 percent (some visible minority groups do better than others).

Above chart shows the 25 year trend for women, visible minorities and Indigenous peoples:

Having found the perfect rental property near the law school, a student of mine could not get a call back from the landlord despite repeatedly leaving messages. When a friend of his called, the call was returned within minutes.

Why?

Well, my student’s name was Mohamed. His friend used the name “Joe.”

Many Canadians with non-Anglicized names can speak of similar experiences. A CBC Marketplace segment from last year, for example, explored the idea of implicit bias affecting shoppers, apartment-seekers and job-hunters across Canada, finding that those with “foreign-sounding” names tended to face challenges that the “Joes” of the country did not.

That phenomenon in mind, then-rookie MP Ahmed Hussen — who has since been named immigration minister — introduced the idea of bringing name-blind recruitment to the civil service in Parliament last year. At the time, he said the move would “assist in our fight to end discrimination and attain real equality in our country.”

Ottawa has now adopted as a pilot project involving six federal ministries: National Defence, Global Affairs, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Public Services and Procurement, Environment and Climate Change and the Treasury Board.

According to the Treasury Board, the initiative will “conceal an applicant’s name, email addresses, employment equity information (i.e., gender, visible minority, person with a disability, Indigenous peoples), names of educational institutions, and country of origin at the initial screening stage.” The results will then be compared to outcomes from traditional applicant shortlisting and will be made available in a report due in October.

There is not much available data yet other than figures showing there has been a slight decrease in the number of visible minority applicants from the year 2012-13 to 2013-14 and subsequent years. One can hope that this initiative would reverse that trend.

As with most government pilots, there are surely some critics wondering why the federal civil service is busying itself with such projects.

Well, first off, there shouldn’t be any dispute that this is indeed a problem. A joint study from the University of Toronto and Ryerson University found that job applicants with Asian-sounding names received 20.1 per cent fewer calls from large organizations than those with Anglo names, and 39.4 per cent and 37.1 per cent fewer calls, respectively, from medium-sized and small employers.

A similar study by the U of T in 2011 — one called “Why do some employers prefer to interview Matthew, but not Samir?” — found that employers in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver were about 40 per cent more likely to interview candidates with Anglo-sounding names, as opposed to those with Chinese or Indian-sounding names, even if the candidates were equally qualified. The government’s pilot project aims to remedy this.

The idea is not new, in fact. Countries such as the U.K. and Australia have led the way in this regard. The British Civil Service and some of the large corporations including HSBC, Deloitte, BBC, and the U.K.’s National Health Service, initiated such a program in 2015. Last year, the Victoria Police, Australia Post and Ernst & Young (Australia) joined a recruitment program that strips out gender, age and cultural details.

Here in Canada, many law schools have implemented a blind grading system whereby students’ names are replaced by numbers to avoid instructor bias. And the Toronto Symphony Orchestra has demonstrated the success of blind auditions for years — evolving from a white, male orchestra in the 1970s to one that is now half female and much more diverse.

A name-blind recruitment process for the federal government is hardly more cumbersome in procedure, and the makeup of the civil service only stands to gain. A more reflective service will have more credibility with the populace but will also better understand the public it is serving. Moreover, as a recent study demonstrated there is a positive correlation between diversity and increased productivity.

That said, as many critics point out: name-blind screening is not a panacea — unconscious biases can’t be eliminated with one little recruitment remedy, and candidates will eventually be evaluated face to face. But removing a barrier to diversity in the federal civil service is a positive step, even if it is a minor one.

Let’s hope that this is just one component of a more comprehensive strategy involving: management acknowledging and confronting their own biases; better training on how biases impact decision-making; more objective hiring processes; and a more diverse group involved in the actual hiring process.

Source: Your name may dictate your apartment, degree, and career: Kutty | Toronto Star

With wider search for soldiers, Canada’s military broadens horizons [in hiring]

The The numbers are abysmal as shown above in the dated chart but it does appear that the military is taking more serious steps to address the gaps.

It would also be nice if their annual employment equity report would be posted publicly rather than having to request it from the Library of Parliament:

First, though, comes a significant and persistent challenge: getting more Canadians to join.

The Forces have struggled for years to hit recruiting numbers, resulting in thousands of unfilled positions such as pilots and technicians.

That’s why fixing the recruiting system is a top priority, said Lt.-Gen. Charles Lamarre, the chief of military personnel, whose role is to oversee all aspects of human resources in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Central to that goal is making the military more inclusive, diverse and attractive to all Canadians, regardless of their backgrounds.

“Our population doesn’t look like all white guys,” Lamarre said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“If you want to get the very best people – the very smartest, most capable, most committed and most ingenious – then you need to look broadly and not exclude groups that would be very useful to you.”

There is more to the push towards increased diversity and inclusiveness than simply recruiting, though that part of the equation is vitally important.

Gen. Jonathan Vance, Canada’s chief of the defence staff, recently released a diversity strategy in which he noted that Canada was becoming more diverse – and the military needed to follow suit.

Doing so would be necessary to attract and retain people, Vance wrote, as well as to ensure the military continued to reflect the society it is sworn to protect, and to increase its effectiveness on missions abroad.

That’s why the Forces appear to be turning a page: leaders are recognizing the real importance of diversity, said Alan Okros, an expert on diversity in the military at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto.

“This idea that people with different views, different experiences, different skill sets are going to make the military stronger has been kind of coalescing and coming together for about a year and a half,” Okros said.

“This isn’t a luxury, this isn’t social engineering, this isn’t political manoeuvring or political correctness. This is now an operational requirement.”

Vance has since taken the unprecedented step of ordering the military to grow the percentage of female personnel to 25 per cent in the next decade, up from 15 per cent.

Recruiters are now launching targeted advertising campaigns and reaching out to women who previously expressed an interest in a military career but didn’t join.

Senior commanders, meanwhile, are reviewing everything from uniforms and ceremonies to food and religious accommodations to see whether they meet the requirements of a more diverse force.

Lamarre plans to speak Monday at a citizenship ceremony in Ottawa in hopes of explaining to new Canadians what he describes as “a tangible way in which they can serve their nation.”

And he hopes to sit down with Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde and other indigenous leaders to talk about ways to reach out and attract people from those communities.

Others within the military are getting in on the action too, with the head of the navy, Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd, issuing a directive last week encouraging his sailors to attend Pride parades in uniform.

Vance is expected to issue a similar directive to the rest of the military in the coming days.

Not everyone agrees with what the military is doing, Lloyd acknowledged, including some of those who are already in uniform. But changing the face of the Forces isn’t just some feel-good exercise, he said.

“In order to be successful in the future, we need to be able to recruit from the entire population.”

There are other challenges to overcome besides convincing some current personnel of the importance of diversity.

The military is still trying to overcome years of bad headlines about the treatment of women and members of the LGBT community by adopting a zero-tolerance approach to sexual misconduct.

There has also been a historic lack of interest in the Forces by many ethnic communities, particularly those that trace their origins to countries where the military has a bad reputation.

And then there are the problems identified by auditor general Michael Ferguson last year, namely that the recruiting system is struggling with red tape and the effects of Conservative budget cuts.

Source: With wider search for soldiers, Canada’s military broadens horizons – The Globe and Mail

Ottawa pilots ‘name-blind’ recruitment to reduce ‘unconscious bias’ in hiring

This pilot will provide some real world data to the existing blind cv studies that have been conducted by Oreopoulos and Reitz.

Wisely, the government has chosen to pilot this in a number of departments with different representation challenges, as shown in the table below:

As the government has largely met the goal of being representative of the population it serves, implicit bias may be less of a factor in the government sector. Representation is somewhat less at more senior levels, where implicit bias is likely less of an issue given that candidates are known.

It would be ironic indeed if the pilot, intended to test for bias against visible minorities, would show a bias for visible minorities, given some of the “over-representation” in some departments. In any case, a valuable exercise.

Ottawa has launched a pilot project to reduce biases in the hiring of federal civil services through what is billed “name-blind” recruitment, a practice long urged by employment equity advocates.

The Liberal government’s move came on the heels of a joint study by University of Toronto and Ryerson University earlier this year that found job candidates with Asian names and Canadian qualifications are less likely to be called for interviews than counterparts with Anglo-Canadian names even if they have a better education.

“It’s not just an issue of concern for me but for a lot of people. A number of people have conducted research in Canada, the U.K., Australia and the U.S. that showed there is a subliminal bias in people reading too much into names,” said Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, who first delivered the idea to Parliament last year as a rookie MP from Toronto.

“Name-blind recruitment could help ensure the public service reflects the people it serves by helping to reduce unconscious bias in the hiring process.”

Some companies in the private sector, including banks and accounting firms, have already adopted the practice, which removes names from application forms in order to stop “unconscious bias” against potential recruits from minority backgrounds.

In the United Kingdom, the government now requires name-blind applications for university admissions service and other applications for organizations such as the civil service, British Broadcasting Company and local government.

U of T sociology professor Jeffrey Reitz said the initiative is an important step forward but cautioned officials they must consult independent experts in developing the process and reviewing the results to make sure it is done correctly.

To conduct name-blind screening, he said, recruiters must remove any information on a resumé that would reveal the ethnicity of the person, such as name, birth place and membership in an association before coding the candidates in the talent pool.

“If the government is serious about it, they need to make the process transparent and allow researchers to look at the new procedures and the results,” said Reitz, a co-author of the Canadian study on name discrimination against Asians.

Debbie Douglas of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants said she hopes the pilot could benefit other minority groups, given studies have shown that white English- and French-speaking able-bodied women have been the primary beneficiaries of current employment equity programs.

“We hope as the government moves proactively to ensure diversity in hiring it will review the existing program and strengthen it to ensure the intentional inclusion of racialized and indigenous job seekers,” said Douglas.

Treasury Board President Scott Brison, who championed Hussen’s initial idea, said he welcomed the opportunity to explore new ways of recruiting talent for the public service.

“A person’s name should never be a barrier to employment. Diversity and inclusion in the workplace is critical to building an energized, innovative and effective public service that is better able to meet the demands of an ever-changing world,” said Brison at the launch of the pilot at Ryerson Thursday.

The six departments participating in the pilot include Department of National Defence; Global Affairs Canada; Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada; Public Services and Procurement Canada; Environment and Climate Change Canada; and the Treasury Board Secretariat. A report on the pilot is expected in October.

Using data from a recent large-scale Canadian employment study that examined interview callback rates for resumés with Asian and Anglo names, U of T and Ryerson researchers found Asian-named applicants consistently received fewer calls regardless of the size of the companies involved.

Although a master’s degree can improve Asian candidates’ chances of being called, it does not close the gap and their prospects don’t even measure up to those of Anglo applicants with undergraduate qualifications.

Compared to applicants with Anglos names, Asian-named applicants with all-Canadian qualifications had 20.1 per cent fewer calls from organizations with 500 or more employees, and 39.4 per cent and 37.1 per cent fewer calls, respectively, from medium-sized and small employers.

Source: Ottawa pilots ‘name-blind’ recruitment to reduce ‘unconscious bias’ in hiring | Toronto Star