Canada must formally apologize for its historic role in the enslavement of Africans in this country and acknowledge the contributions of Black Canadians

From one of the more prominent plaintiffs in the proposed class action lawsuit against the Canadian government for past and current discrimination.

Question the need for a separate category under the Employment Equity Act for Black Canadians, given that the disaggregated data already includes Black Canadians, and government employment equity reports are now including that data.

And, as I have written elsewhere, disaggregated government employment and public service survey data highlights the similarities and differences between the different visible minority groups (https://multiculturalmeanderings.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=48735&action=edit), with some groups being comparable to Black Canadians, others doing better.

Hopefully, the federally regulated sectors will start to collect comparable disaggregated data, as agree this would be helpful. But it should be collected for all visible minority groups, not just Black Canadians:

American civil rights activist James Baldwin once asked, “how much time do you want for your ‘progress.’ ” Canadian Black politicians, leaders, professors, civil rights activists, and associations have for years called upon Canada to formally apologize for its role in the enslavement of Africans in this country. This long-awaited apology would bring about acknowledgment, recognition, and much-needed healing of the effects of slavery still reflected in the treatment and the experiences of Black Canadians. Canada’s long overdue apology for the treatment of the No. 2 Construction Battalion and recognition of Emancipation Day are not enough.

For too long, Black Canadians have been fighting anti-Black racism symptoms by calling for changes in the criminal justice system, employment, housing, and education sectors. We have also been calling for changes in the same organizations that are meant to bring about equality, specifically amendments to the Employment Equity Act (EEA) to establish a category for Black Canadians, as well as to the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC), which is more often than not dismissive of anti-Black racism. As of March 2021, more than 600 former and current Black public service employees are suing the federal government over the unjust practice of Black employee exclusion due to systemic discrimination dating back from the 1970s. More than 12,000 Canadians have signed a petition calling on Justin Trudeau and the Government of Canada to end systemic discrimination and Black employee exclusion within the federal public service.

Black Canadians lack capital power and political representation; thus, our calls for change are dismissed and our demands shoved for another day, promises of change are never realized. The Canadian government itself practices discrimination against Black Canadians and is thus unwilling to force change. In addition to the above mentioned lawsuit by Black government of Canada employees, Canada has officially apologized to several indigenous peoples, apologized over the Chinese head tax, and for sending Japanese-Canadians to internment camps during the Second World War. The government has also rightly apologized for its discrimination, criminalization, and the injustices endured by the Canadian LGBTQ community members. Yet, Black Canadians are still awaiting such turning points and are disheartened to repeatedly ask a prime minister who himself repeatedly wore a Black face and contributed to our dehumanization. So, long as the Canadian government discriminates, it cannot in good faith and with the same breath implement equal rights and progress.

In a 2019 survey, the Canada Race Relations Foundation found that Black Canadians and Indigenous peoples are the most likely groups to report racial discrimination experiences, and they are also the groups widely understood by others to experience such treatment.

The government is aware of the pervasive nature of anti-Black racism in Canada. In 2017, the federal government invited the United Nations Human Rights Council working group of experts on people of African descent to examine the legal, institutional and policy framework and measures taken to prevent racial discrimination and related intolerance faced by Black Canadians. While acknowledging Canada’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, the UN expressed deep concern about Black Canadians’ human rights situation.

It noted that Black Canadians faced disproportionately high unemployment rates and forced to take low-paying jobs with little security and poor prospects when working. The UN cited the multiple and intersectional forms of racism at play against Black Canadian women who make 37 per cent less than white men, and 15 per cent are less than white women, with over one in four living below the Canadian poverty line. The UN working group recommendations included that Canada recognizes Black Canadians as a distinct group who continue to make profound economic, political, cultural and spiritual contributions to Canada. Additionally, it proposed a mandatory nationwide policy on collecting data disaggregated by race and other identities to determine if and when racial disparities exist for Black Canadians. Furthermore, it remarked that the category of “visible minority” obscures the degrees of disparities in Black Canadians’ treatment and specific human rights concerns.

In January 2018, Canada officially recognized the UN International Decade for People of African Descent, stipulating that the international community acknowledges that people of African descent represent a distinct group whose human rights must be promoted and protected. It also calls for adoption or strengthening of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation and ensuring its effective implementation.

Amid COVID-19, Statistics Canada indicated that the pandemic had hard-hit Canada’s Black population (approximately one million people aged 15 to 69). Data revealed that in the three months ending in January 2021, the unemployment rate among Black Canadians (13.1 per cent) was about 70 per cent higher than that among non-visible minority Canadians (7.7 per cent). Additionally, almost one-third of employed Black women (31.7 per cent) worked in health care and social assistance in January 2021, bearing the brunt of response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Groundbreaking research by the Edmonton-based African Canadian Civic Engagement Council and Innovative Research Group unveiled how COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting the health and finances of Black Canadians. It showed that Black communities are experiencing layoffs, reduced work hours, and reduced household incomes at higher rates. Fifty-six percent of Black respondents said their job, or the job of someone they knew, had been affected, compared with the national average of 46 per cent.

The government’s ongoing initiatives and resources to address systemic racism and anti-Black racism in Canadian institutions and the privately regulated sectors are welcomed. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Bardish Chagger, minister of diversity and inclusion and youth, acknowledge that racism is one of the root causes of social and economic gaps for Indigenous peoples. The more recent 2021 Privy Council call to action to deputy ministers, heads of separate agencies, and heads of federal agencies to reflect deeply on the unjust treatment of Black people and other racialized groups and Indigenous peoples is helpful. It is encouraging that the Privy Council statements distinctly recognized and named Black Canadians in its call to eradicate systemic racism and appropriately used the words racialized communities rather than visible minorities and Indigenous Canadians, rather than aboriginal peoples. This is in stark contrast to the outdated federal legalization meant to eradicate systemic racism and take positive measures towards employment equity in the federal government and federally regulated private sectors, namely the EEA. The Federal Black Employee Caucus (FBEC), established in 2018 to support efforts to address issues faced by Black federal public servants, is also a positive development in the governments’ efforts towards engaging Black employees and learning about their first-hand experiences with systemic racism as it relates to barriers to career to advancements.

The Employment Equity Act requires that federal jurisdiction employers take proactive measures to measure progress on the programs it puts in place. The Public Service Commission (PSC) collects and analyzes hiring, promotion, selection process, survey response and other data for these designated groups. In its January of 2021 audit report on employment equity representation in recruitment, the Commission found that the representation rate of visible minority groups declined at the organizational screening and assessment stages. Of the visible minority sub-groups examined in the audit, Black candidates experienced a more significant drop in representation than other visible minority groups, both at the organizational screening stage and at the assessment stage. Additionally, according to the Federal Black Employee Caucus (FBEC), Black people encounter more significant challenges and obstacles than their mainstream counterparts in their efforts to be recruited and promoted in the federal public service.  The FBEC further state that Black federal employees report above-average levels of harassment and discrimination and are over-represented in the lower ranks. They note ongoing marginalization and underemployment affect the health of some Black employees and force others to leave the public service and that current and former diversity initiatives aren’t solving the problem. The FBEC called on the government to collect disaggregated data on the experiences of the Black public servant and noted that the currently visible minority category masks the representation, recruitment and advancement challenges of Black people. The collection and analysis of disaggregated data have also been made by Liberal MP Greg Fergus, the Canadian caucus of Black Parliamentarians’ chair.

Where is the political will for real change?

In a missed opportunity, in November of 2020, the government passed amendments to the Employment Equity Regulations under the EEA and introduced new pay transparency requirements that came into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. Had there been a prioritization of anti-Black systemic racism and its painful impact on the Canadian Black populations, indeed, the government could have enacted the above recommendations.

As former senator Donald Oliver outlined, the legislation can be amended in two weeks, should the government so wills. As such, the minister of labour is encouraged to consider the Canadian Black population as a separate and distinct group within the EEA and take immediate steps to collect disaggregated data along racial and intersectional identities to understand African Canadians’ experiences in the labour market and associated human rights concerns. Future amendments to the Act should also include a robust accountability model akin to the Canadian Official Languages Act. Under OLA the duty of each federal institution to take positive measures is enforceable. This means that the public and the commissioner of official languages may seek court remedies if they feel that the duty under Part VII of the act has not been met.

Profound demands for justice have been enlisted following the tragic murder of George Floyd, which sparks international demands for justice, and equality including in Canada. This will continue until measurable progress is achieved and history shall keep recording. With COVID-19’s devastating impact on Black Canadians, their families, children, and communities, the time to act and take measurable action is now.

Huda Mukbil is a national security expert and a former senior intelligence officer with Canadian Intelligence Service (CSIS).

Source: https://hilltimes.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=a90bfb63c26a30f02131a677b&id=64bcc7c44b&e=685e94e554

Public Service Disaggregated Data for Visible Minorities and Indigenous peoples, Citizenship status

Over the past few months, I have been analyzing the various datasets breaking down public service employment and employee survey data by the individual visible minority and Indigenous groups.

The three articles, What new disaggregated data tells us about federal public service diversity (Policy Options, October 2020), What the Public Service Employee Survey breakdowns of visible minority and other groups tell us about diversity and inclusion (The Hill Times, November 2020) and Diversity and Inclusion: Public Service Hirings, Promotions and Separations (The Hill Times, March 2021) allow for a more comprehensive view of visible minority and Indigenous groups in the federal public service. Moreover, recent Public Service Commission studies analyzing recruitment of employment equity groups add an important element to discussions on public service staffing and recruitment practices.

Much of the debate and discussions have understandably focussed on Blacks in the public service. Yet public service data indicates that their situation is not unique in terms of representation, hirings and promotions and the employee satisfaction, with many commonalities with the other groups. A more granular analysis within each occupational group (i.e., comparing representation at each level by occupational group, as some departments are conducting, may very well provide such evidence).

Key findings are:

  • Overall EE analysis shows considerable variation among the different visible minority and Indigenous groups
  • Visible minorities
    • Correlation between lower educational attainment and representation for most groups save Chinese
    • Overall under-representation common to most groups
    • Blacks, West Asian/Arab small over-representation
    • EX: All groups under-represented save Japanese with Filipino, Latin American and Blacks having the largest gaps
    • Hirings: Hirings of visible minorities have increased for all groups in most occupational groups save for technical and administrative support. Hirings at the EX level have increase for Black, Chinese, South Asian/East Indian and West Asian/Arab, with other groups showing no increase.
    • Promotions: While promotions have increased marginally for virtually all groups at the agregate level, promotions by occupational category provide a mixed picture, with most groups and most occupational categories experiencing a marginal decline in promotions.
  • Indigenous peoples
    • First Nations under-represented, Métis and Inuit over-represented
    • Hirings: While hirings at the EX level have increased slightly, this is less the case for the other occupational categories. Hirings of Métis have increased the most in the operational category, hirings of First Nations the most in the technical category, while hirings of Inuit the most at the EX level.
    • Promotions: A marginal decline across all Indigenous groups and occupational
  • Harassment/Discrimination experiences vary
    • Harassment: Japanese report the most as do First Nations and Métis, Chinese and Filipino least satisfied with resolution as is the case with Métis
    • Discrimination; Blacks report the most, but all groups encounter discrimination on the basis of race, ethnic origin or colour. Black, Japanese and Latin American least satisfied with resolution. All Indigenous groups report having been discriminated against, mainly based on race or ethnic origin, with Métis also least satisfied with resolution

The recent PSC Audit of Employment Equity Representation in Recruitment provides some interesting data and analysis of the staffing process and how the different employment equity groups, and visible minority largest sub-groups, fare at each of the five stages in the staffing process: job application, automated screening, organizational screening, assessment and appointment (FY 2016-17 data).

The most significant stages were organizational screening and assessment where most filtering took place as shown in the table below:

The next table breaks down visible minorities by the largest groups:

As noted in the audit, Blacks have the largest decrease in representation at all stages save for appointment, with a non-negligible being screened out by automatic screening. Chinese are screened out more by organizational screening whereas West Asian and South Asian are more likely to be screened in as the assessment stage.

The audit provides the following explanation for visible minority groups. Overall, visible minority women have higher success rates than visible minority men at the organizational screening and assessment stages. Visible minorities screened out at the organizational screening stage due to citizenship status (Canadian citizens are given preference over non-citizens) and experience qualifications. Those with public service work experience were more likely to be screened in at this stage but overall “experienced less success than their counterparts regardless of whether or not they had federal public service experience.”

At the assessment stage, visible minorities were less successful when written tests were used, particularly the case for Black candidates.

A separate PSC report addresses the Citizenship of applicants and external appointments. While Canadian citizens have a hiring preference, the share of non-citizen applicants has risen from 9.4 percent in 2015-16 to 14.5 percent in 2018-19, with the share of hires has increased to 2.5 percent from 1.5 percent over the same period

Non-citizen visible minority applicants account for 22.9 percent of all visible minority applicants, for non-visible minorities, the share is only 12.1 percent.

The table below contrasts applicants and appointments by citizenship status for the past four years. For Canadian citizens, the percentage of applicants and appointments are comparable, for Permanent Residents and others, appointments are significantly greater than applicants suggesting that citizenship may be less of a barrier than commonly believed.

Visible minority Canadian citizens represented 17.2 percent of all applicants and 19.5 percent of all hires (2018-19).

Audit of Employment Equity Representation in Recruitment

PDF Version

Significant and useful, in that it breaks down the various steps in staffing and how different groups are affected at the organizational screening and assessment stages.

Like all research, this begs further work to assess the particular factors that resulted in visible minority and Indigenous candidates being rejected at those stages.

Notable that Black candidate respresentation declined more than other visible minority groups, again suggesting the need for some qualitative analysis of the reasons and rationales for them being selected out:

This audit was undertaken as part of the Public Service Commission (PSC)’s oversight mandate to assess the integrity of the public service staffing system. It is part of a series of initiatives that looks at the performance of the staffing system with respect to the representation of employment equity groups.

Achieving priorities related to diversity and inclusion in the federal public service will ensure that Canadians benefit from a public service workforce that is representative of Canada’s diversity. To date, progress towards a representative federal public service is being made. Of the 4 employment equity groups, 3 are represented at or above workforce availability; persons with disabilities are currently underrepresented in the federal government. These results show that more work and a sustained focus on diversity are required.

This audit focused on advertised recruitment processes as one of the key drivers to improving the representation of employment equity groups in the federal public service. The audit had 2 objectives:

  1. to determine whether the 4 employment equity groups remain proportionately represented throughout recruitment processes
  2. to identify factors that may influence employment equity group representation

This audit looked at 15 285 applications to 181 externally advertised appointment processes from 30 departments and agencies.

We examined employment equity group representation at 5 key stages of the external advertised appointment process (Figure 2 in this report provides more detail on each of these stages):

5 key stages of the external advertised appointment process: job application, automated screening, Organizational screening, Assessment, Appointment

Our focus was to explore whether employment equity groups experienced changes in representation at each stage of the appointment process, and to examine these stages for factors that may have influenced their representation.

Main findings

We found that employment equity groups did not remain proportionately represented throughout the recruitment process.

Our audit results showed that:

  • women were the only group to experience an overall increase in representation from job application to the appointment stage
  • Indigenous candidates experienced a reduction in representation at the assessment stage
  • persons with disabilities experienced the largest drop in representation of any of the employment equity groups, with decreases in representation at the assessment and appointment stages
  • visible minority groups experienced reductions in representation at the organizational screening and assessment stages
  • of the visible minority sub-groups examined in our audit, Black candidates experienced a larger drop in representation than other members of visible minorities, both at the organizational screening and assessment stages

Our ability to identify factors that may influence employment equity representation in recruitment was limited to the information available in the staffing files. Some factors were identified to partially explain the drop in representation of members of visible minorities at the organizational screening stage. However, limited information in staffing files did not provide conclusive evidence of other factors that may be associated with lower success rates of employment equity groups at later stages of the recruitment process. More research will be required to determine potential barriers in externally advertised appointment processes and to develop concrete solutions.

This audit report makes 3 recommendations intended to address the lower success experienced by some employment equity groups in external advertised recruitment processes. The development and implementation of concrete corrective measures will require collaboration between multiple stakeholders including deputy heads, the PSC, other central agencies and employment equity groups.

The audit makes clear that despite efforts across departments and agencies to advance diversity, work remains to achieve inclusive hiring processes in the public service. The PSC will need to further support organizations by providing systems, tools and guidance for implementing a barrier-free appointment process. Most importantly, deputy heads are responsible for reviewing their staffing framework and practices to ensure barrier-free appointment processes for all employment equity groups, including visible minority sub-groups.

Source: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-service-commission/services/publications/audit-of-employment-equity-representation-in-recruitment.html#2_0

Black public servants’ lawsuit will force public service ‘to look deeply inside its structure,’ says former senator who’s fought for diversity in the PS for decades


While the concerns are legitimate, this focus on Black public servants as being unique and thus needing unique measures downplays the fact that other visible minority groups also are under-represented and some more so than Black public servants (yet again, see my What new disaggregated data tells us about federal public service …). Without situating these concerns in relation to other visible minority (and Indigenous) groups, and with minimal data to support these claims, an opportunity is missed for a more evidence-based and fulsome discussion:
 
 
Plaintiff Kathy Ann Samuel, who has worked within the department of public prosecutions as a legal assistant for the last 19 years, said she’s ‘tired of being tired’ and that ‘change has to start from the top, it has to start with the government.’

Former Senator Don Oliver, who has argued for decades that the government needs to appoint more Black judges, deputy and associate deputy ministers, and chiefs of staff in government offices, says he was not surprised to read about a planned class action lawsuit on behalf of current and former Black employees within the public service, and that he had “predicted and warned about one for 20 years.”

Twelve plaintiffs are involved in the proposed class-action lawsuit by former and current Black federal public servants, which alleges that Black employees have been systematically excluded from advancement and subjected to discrimination within the government for decades. They are seeking $900-million in damages.

“It’s happening now,” said Mr. Oliver. “I am not part of the lawsuit. But having fought hard for 22 years while a Senator to teach diversity in the public service to ‘simply accept difference,’ I was often a lone voice in the wilderness. But given what facts in the planned suit we know to be true, because they are backed by data, I accept and support that.”

“I have deep respect for the public service of Canada,” said Mr. Oliver. “Over two decades I have worked very closely with several eminent deputy ministers and clerks of the Privy Council trying to find ways to change the culture of some 300,000 employees and root out systemic black racism.”

Mr. Oliver said that the class action lawsuit immediately reminded him of a class action lawsuit filed by current and former African American employees against Coca Cola in the United States, something which Mr. Oliver addressed in 2000 in a major speech to the Senate.

“As in the Canadian suit, they alleged racial discrimination that produced lower pay, less promotions, and poor performance evaluations,” wrote Mr. Oliver in an emailed statement to The Hill Times. “The Black employees won the largest settlement ever in a corporate racial discrimination case, $192-million.”

Mr. Oliver also said he’s warned that given the systemic racism that exists in our largest corporations and institutions in Canada, the same thing could happen here. The former Senator now chairs the Black North Initiative committee on public relations and the public sector.

“I can state that the clerk [of the Privy Council], Ian Shugart, has been extremely open and forthcoming in helping us meet our 3.5 per cent targets looking to the future,” said Mr. Oliver. “That is most encouraging. The planned lawsuit looks to actions in the past.”

In regards to the highly publicized death of George Floyd, a Minnesota man who was killed by a police officer who pinned him down with a knee to his neck in June 2020, Mr. Oliver called it a “pivotal moment” that “brought to light the insidious but painful truth in Canada about white privilege.”

“The ‘perk’ that white people get by virtue of their colour,” said Mr. Oliver. “The lawsuit is a logical and natural next step after the necessary data has been secured.”

“The lawsuit will force the Public Service to look deeply inside its structure and systems to find ways to eradicate white privilege in performance evaluations and all other known forms of systemic Black racism,” wrote Mr. Oliver. “It must start with some profound personal soul searching that will require all white managers to learn to accept some uncomfortable truths.”

“The machinery of government, i.e., getting a new government department, is something directed from PMO and when that directive comes to PCO one way or another, the Clerk of the Privy Council and all the deputy ministers must fall in line. The ongoing work we are doing in the Black North Initiative to find ways to break down systemic Black racism is going well,” wrote Mr. Oliver. “We have been working with a number of senior bureaucrats of good will. This will continue.”

Nicholas Marcus Thompson, who works for the Canada Revenue Agency as a collections contact officer and a plaintiff in the suit, told The Hill Times that the lawsuit started with the Canada Revenue Agency, calling it a “focal point” of this issue last week.

As a union president in Toronto, representing 800 workers in two offices, Mr. Thompson said he’s been advocating around this issue for years.

“In one of my buildings I have 1,100 workers, and there’s 20 Black people,” said Mr. Thompson. “I asked them to address this issue, to provide developmental opportunities to Black people so when staffing processes come out, they have the experience to apply.”

“They are giving the experience to other visible minorities and Caucasian employees, who are getting that opportunity,” said Mr. Thompson. “So that’s why we say ‘Black employee exclusion,’ and that’s why it’s not about visible minorities, because by far, they are allowing other visible minorities to move ahead and get into the management program and into the executive program.”

Duane Guy Guerra, a full-time employee at the Department of National Defence as a heavy equipment technician for more than 20 years, told The Hill Times that the class action lawsuit “is the next step in doing what I can do, and what seems to be happening now is that people are actually listening.”

Mr. Guerra said that when he first began working for the department in 1999, he was very excited and happy to be there and considered it the next step in his automotive career.

“I worked at General Motors for 13 years, I was proud of that, and I was really good at my job, and I figured, why not take my skills to the next level and try to do something better to serve my country?” said Mr. Guerra. “So I moved to [DND], and I was well received there until I started to try and advance, even though I had the support of my military supervisors.”

Kathy Ann Samuel, who works within the Department of Public Prosecutions as a legal assistant for the last 19 years, said she’s “tired of being tired.”

“Throughout the years, we have marched, we have come together, we have asked, we’ve begged, we’ve done different actions, and no change has been done,” said Ms. Samuel. “The change has to start from the top, it has to start with the government and the law has to be changed.”

“It’s just time, it’s the right thing to do,” said Ms. Samuel.

When asked about the brutal death of George Floyd in the summer, an event caught on video that galvanized thousands of people in Canada and in the United States, Ms. Samuel said the spirit of that moment is still alive.

“For what other people think, it may have passed for them,” said Ms. Samuel. “For us, for the Black community it has not passed. I have children—I have a Black son and I have a Black daughter, and anything can happen—they can be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and it’s very troubling.”

“When it happened with George Floyd, every single video made me cry, because I put my son in that situation, I put my nephews in that situation, and it could be anybody, and it’s disheartening that in 2020, the Black community is still going through these types of incidents that have happened in the past,” said Ms. Samuel.

Courtney Betty, a Toronto-based lawyer involved in the proposed class action suit, told The Hill Times that “immediately, we would like to see the government prepared to enter into a dialogue with the parties to come up with a resolution.”

“It would avoid litigation and what I would say, is also some incredibly embarrassing stories of the pain and suffering that so many individuals [have experienced], and I think it would be a public embarrassment for Canada internationally when these stories become public,” said Mr. Betty. “It is just really beyond description in terms of the pain and suffering that these plaintiffs have faced.”

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment for this story.

Source: Black public servants’ lawsuit will force public service ‘to look deeply inside its structure,’ says former senator who’s fought for diversity in the PS for decades

Erica Ifill also misses this opportunity for a more informed discussion:

If the makeup of an organization is such that Black employees are ghettoized at the lower ranks with a mostly white managerial class, that’s not equity; that’s segregation, intentional or not. And yet, for months, we’ve seen many such institutions perform the equivalent of just taking a knee – proclaiming their commitment to resolving anti-Black racism generally without admitting its existence within their structure or committing to concrete action.

But for some institutions, chickens are coming home to roost. That includes Canada’s federal government, which is quick to crow about diversity but apparently needs to clean up its own coop first.

Last week, 12 Black public servants launched a class-action lawsuit against the federal government, claiming it “failed to uphold the Charter rights of Black employees in the federal public service, shirking its responsibility to create discrimination- and harassment-free workplaces, and actively excluding Black bureaucrats”.

Systemic racism has become the new buzzword, one that many leaders are happy to throw around, but few actually know how to define. That includes RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, who said earlier this year that she was “struggling” with the term and had denied its existence in her organization. It should be no surprise that the RCMP is named among the departments accused in the lawsuit.

To fill folks in, systemic racism is discrimination perpetuated by a system that produces disparate outcomes based on race, despite the racial composition of those within the system, or whether the participants themselves are racist or not. Diversity does not resolve racism. Rather, without equity, it’s just an act of glorified window-dressing. Claiming diversity as your strength – as the organizations named in the lawsuit are wont to do – is not a get-out-of-jail-free card against the possibility of perpetuating systemic racism, just like having a Black friend does not permanently absolve someone of any act of racism.

A spokesperson from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat insists the federal government has taken steps to address anti-Black systemic racism across the country, citing that “the fall economic statement committed $12-million over three years toward a dedicated centre on diversity and inclusion in the federal public service. This will accelerate the government’s commitment to achieving a representative and inclusive public service.” However, recruiting more Black people will not solve the systemic problem of anti-Black racism in the public service. Effectively, the government has offered a solution to the wrong problem.

The government’s response makes clear only that no attempt has been made to review the existing structures and systems of accountability that prevent the promotion of Black people to the senior ranks, where other racialized groups are more represented. Treasury Board Secretariat’s own data show that Black employees’ salary ranges coalesce at the lower ends of the spectrum compared to those of other racialized groups and white employees, with miniscule representation at the higher ends, which would indicate management levels. The problem is the distribution of Black employees, who tend to occupy more administrative roles than analytical ones, which would enable them to move into management positions. Black executives make up only 1.6 per cent of the executive class (96 out of 5,887) yet comprise nearly 5 per cent of the administrative support staff (971 out of 19,900). This indicates that Black people are either not recruited at higher levels or they are not promoted into higher levels.

Dismantling systemic racism necessitates a genuine and effortful cultural shift in organizations that are stubbornly reticent to change. Expecting change from those who have benefitted from the existing structure is a near-impossible feat, which is why much of the work is usually left to a racialized third party.

The way forward includes anti-racism training that features critical race theory and leadership development, instead of the kind of vanilla anti-bias and diversity training that is mostly focussed on reducing legal liability. According to Harvard Business Review, that kind of training has been offered for decades with little effect: “laboratory studies show that this kind of force-feeding can activate bias rather than stamp it out.” Policies, procedures, processes and accountability systems need to be audited for equity and remedies executed. As well, internal communications must be overhauled – not to hedge against liability, but to speak to employees with the intention of transparency and accountability.

Without a systemic and systematic makeover, businesses and organizations all over the country will face a reckoning that could have them spending more time and money in a courtroom, instead of the boardroom. If the federal government can be sued, anyone can, making inaction on dismantling systemic racism a potentially expensive liability.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-ottawa-claims-diversity-is-our-strength-so-why-is-it-being-sued-by/

Black civil servants’ $900-million proposed class action lawsuit against feds a ‘logical, natural’ next step, says NDP MP Green

Again, the lack of reference to employment equity disaggregated data to provide context or justify their arguments is disappointing. The data now exists for the distinct visible minority and Indigenous groups and thus it is negligence not to refer to it, suggesting that many have not done so (see What new disaggregated data tells us about federal public service …):

A proposed class-action lawsuit by 12 former and current Black federal public servants alleging that Black employees have been systematically excluded from advancement and subjected to discrimination within the government for decades is a “logical, natural next step, given that it’s clear that many people feel like their issues haven’t been resolved or dealt with in a meaningful way,” says NDP MP Matthew Green.

The representative plaintiffs are seeking $900-million in damages as well as a mandatory order to implement a Diversity and Promotional Plan for Black Public Service Employees related to the hiring and promotion of Black employees within the public service.

“Racism is expensive, is the lesson to be learned. Racism costs people who face it, and, in a just world, it ought to cost the people who perpetrate it,” said Mr. Green (Hamilton Centre, Ont.) in an interview with The Hill Times. “Within a justice framework, compensation for harm done is something that is considered in every aspect of the law, and so if people have worked their entire careers subjugated to systemic anti-Black racism, then they have retired with lower pensions presumably, with lost opportunity cost of having equal and equitable compensation, and that’s a considerable thing in labour practice.”

“That is a fundamental claim within labour law, so I’m not surprised by the number,” said Mr. Green.

 The proposed class proceeding, which has not yet been certified, includes plaintiffs from a wide range of government agencies, including the Canada Revenue Agency, Employment and Social Development Canada, Corrections Canada, the Department of National Defence, and the RCMP.

Many of the experiences of class members delineated in the court document centre on their lack of promotions within the public service after many years on the job—promotions which have been made available to other members of visible minority groups.

The proposed suit alleges that the Employment Equity Act has “failed in its goals and mandate to Black employees,” as it “fails to break down the category of visible minorities and thus ignores the unique, invisible and systemic racism faced by Black employees relative to other disadvantaged groups that are covered by the categories established by the Act.”

“I think what we’re seeing in this statement of claim is a very clear, step-by-step definition and expression of the ways in which systemic anti-Black racism impacts workers in Canada,” Mr. Green said.

“And [there’s] the disconnect that we have between [those] experiencing this, and those in power, for instance, the government, which will talk about systemic racism [and] use expressions of individual experiences to individualize stories that they can then pretend to remedy in a way that never seeks to address the systemic barriers to begin with,” said Mr. Green. “For a government that seeks to benefit from identity politics without the class analysis, this is a wake-up call and a reckoning that people will no longer be managed by the shallow words of things like reconciliation and things like Black Lives Matter if there is not a meaningful movement towards actual justice.”

The NDP MP said he’s 100 per cent in solidarity with the lawsuit, and that it’s “a beautiful act of solidarity that 12 individuals have begun this claim, which takes a tremendous amount of courage in an environment where going along to get along is perhaps a much better tool for survival within systems of anti-Black racism.”

“These folks have certainly shown courage, and this is also not about 12 individuals,” said Mr. Green. “My hope is, people reading this story, people reading this news, will find the courage to file their own claims.”

Proposed suit raised in Question Period

Mr. Green highlighted the class-action claim during Question Period on Dec. 4, asking “if the majority of the Liberal cabinet agrees that anti-Black racism exists within the federal government, what specific measures within the federal workplace, if any, has the government taken to actually address it?”

Liberal MP Greg Fergus (Hull-Aylmer, Que.), the parliamentary secretary to Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos (Québec, Que.) and Minister of Digital Government Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, B.C.), replied by saying “we cannot ignore that racism is a lived reality for Black Canadians, Indigenous peoples, and people of colour” and that “we have to make sure that our public service is not only representative of the population it serves but that it offers an opportunity for all employees to express their full potential.”

Mr. Fergus also noted the $12-million over three years that was recently committed by the federal government in the fall economic statement to a dedicated centre on diversity and inclusion.

“This will accelerate the government’s commitment to achieving a representative and inclusive public service,” said Mr. Fergus.

The Liberal MP declined to comment further following an interview request from The Hill Times, as the matter is before the courts.

In an earlier emailed response to The Hill Times, a spokesperson from the Treasury Board Secretariat said “systemic racism and discrimination is a painful lived reality for Black Canadians, racialized people and Indigenous people,” and that the most recent Speech from the Throne announced an action plan to increase representation and leadership development within the public service.

“As the matter is currently before the courts, the Treasury Board Secretariat cannot comment on this suit at this time,” according to the spokesperson.

Federal Black Employee Caucus stands in solidarity, PSAC to serve as intervener

Atong Ater, member of the Federal Black Employee Caucus’ (FBEC) core team, told The Hill Times that although her organization is not part of the class-action suit, FBEC stands in solidarity with anyone who’s working to give voice and address issues of anti-Black systemic racism within the federal public service.

Atong Ater, member of the Federal Black Employee Caucus’ (FBEC) core team, says her organization will ‘continue to work in collaboration with senior public officials and different employment, equity and diversity groups to advocate for measures.’ 

“We continue to work in collaboration with senior public officials and different employment, equity, and diversity groups to advocate for measures,” said Ms. Ater. “We stand in solidarity, and we’re going to continue to work with the federal public service to address the same issues that were brought about and highlighted within this class action.”

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), Canada’s largest federal public service union, supports the legal action taken on behalf of nearly 30,000 past and present federal public service workers who identify as Black, Caribbean or of African descent, according to a Dec. 4 press release.

PSAC intends to serve as an intervener in the proposed lawsuit.

“Canada’s public service presents itself as a ‘merit-based, representative and non-partisan organization that serves all Canadians,’” said Chris Aylward, PSAC’s national president in an emailed statement to The Hill Times. “While laudable as a principle, many Canadians, particularly Black Canadians, have experienced a different reality. The government must do what is necessary to right these wrongs and ensure that these injustices do not continue.”

Former MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes, who represented the riding of Whitby, Ont.,  as a Liberal from 2015 before sitting as an Independent after resigning from the Liberal caucus in March 2019, told The Hill Times that after “years and years of saying the same thing and getting promise after promise of action in some kind of way, shape, or form—that doesn’t materialize—to seeing either changes to the federal public service or appointments or anything, I think it’s brilliant that they’re finally saying ‘enough is enough.’”

Former Liberal and Independent MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes says ‘one would hope that the government takes it serious enough that it doesn’t need to be drawn out for years and years of legal proceedings.’

Ms. Caesar-Chavannes, whose book Can You Hear Me Now? is scheduled to hit bookshelves in early February 2021, also said “one would hope that the government takes it serious enough that it doesn’t need to be drawn out for years and years of legal proceedings.”

She introduced a private member’s bill in the dying days of the last Parliament to change the Employment Equity Act. The bill called for a requirement of the Canada Human Rights Commission to provide an annual report to the minister “on the progress made by the Government of Canada in dismantling systemic barriers that prevent members of visible minorities from being promoted within the federal public service and in remedying the disadvantages caused by those barriers.”

“One would hope that the prime minister, in all his take-a-knee glory, would actually sit down with the plaintiffs or sit down before it even gets that far and say ‘let’s deal with this,’ like he’s done with other issues with the RCMP and with Indigenous people,” said Ms. Caesar-Chavannes.

“If the prime minister does not take it upon himself to lead from the top and say that we’re going to sit down in trust, like we’ve done with other communities with the plaintiffs or the lawyers of the case, and deal with it before it has to go through the legal system, if he doesn’t do that, then it will absolutely show his true colours on this one.”

Mr. Green also said he was reminded about “all the theatrics that this prime minister has undertaken from taking a knee, to the language of reconciliation with Indigenous people. And yet, time and time again, has failed to actually address the systems which oppress these peoples.”

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment, as this is before the courts.

Source: Black civil servants’ $900-million proposed class action lawsuit against feds a ‘logical, natural’ next step, says NDP MP Green

Black civil servants allege discrimination in proposed class-action lawsuit against Ottawa

EE - Disaggregated Data, Representation and PSES.010

EE - Disaggregated Data, Representation and PSES.013

There is a real disconnect in the proposed class action lawsuit in its broad assertions regarding widespread assertions regarding systemic racism and the reliance on the disturbing personal experiences of 12 Black public servants to justify such broad assertions.

The statement of claim uses no data beyond these personal experiences to justify their claims, surprising given the availability of data from the Census and more recently, TBS employment equity reports and Public Service Employee Surveys as seen in my analyses What new disaggregated data tells us about federal public service … and What the Public Service Employee Survey breakdowns of visible minority and other groups tell us about diversity and inclusion, selected data tables above.

The former shows that overall Blacks are over-represented in the public service but that a number of other minority groups have comparable under-representation to Blacks among executives, i.e., the issues are not unique to Black employees.

On the other hand, Black public servants are more likely to experience discrimination than other groups but even these differences are relatively small.

There are, of course, likely wider variations at the departmental level.

None of this is to discount the experiences of the 12 public servants but underline that calls for systemic change should be evidence-based, not just examples and anecdotes, no matter how strong:

A group of current and former Black civil servants has issued a proposed class-action lawsuit against the federal government alleging it discriminated against Black employees for decades.

They claim the government has excluded Black federal employees from being promoted.

“Our exclusion at the top levels of the public service, in my view, has really disenfranchised Canada from that talent and that ability and the culture that Black workers bring to the table and that different perspective,” said Nicholas Marcus Thompson.

Source: Black civil servants allege discrimination in proposed class-action lawsuit against Ottawa

Text of proposed class action suit: 486848991-NICHOLAS-MARCUS-THOMPSON-ET-AL-v-HER-MAJESTY-THE-QUEEN

A longer more in-depth account of the experiences of the 12 employees can be found here:

The Canadian government has failed to uphold the Charter rights of Black employees in the federal public service, shirking its responsibility to create discrimination- and harassment-free workplaces, and actively excluding Black bureaucrats, allege plaintiffs in a proposed class-action lawsuit.

“There has been a de facto practice of Black employee exclusion throughout the public service because of the permeation of systemic discrimination through Canada’s institutional structures,” said the statement of claim filed with the Federal Court in Toronto on Dec. 2.

The class action, which has not been certified, is being led by 12 former and current Black public servants, who have been employed in a variety of federal departments and agencies, including the RCMP, Canadian Revenue Agency, Canadian Human Rights Commission, Canadian Armed Forces, Statistics Canada, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, and Employment and Social Development Canada.

The representative plaintiffs, seeking $900-million in damages on behalf of public servants since 1970 and their families, claim Black employees have been systemically excluded from advancement within the public service and that the court should impose on the government a mandatory order to implement a “Diversity and Promotional Plan for Black Public Service Employees, related to the hiring and promotion” of Black bureaucrats.

“Canada owes Black employees a duty of care,” the 45-page statement of claim said. “This duty entails an obligation to promote Black employees based on merit, talent, and ability, as is the case for any other employee.”

The suit alleges that Canada’s application of the Employment Equity Act violates the Charter equality rights of Black employees. The act designates women, Indigenous people, persons with disabilities, and visible minorities as requiring special measures and accommodation in the public service.

“In particular, the act fails to break down the category of visible minorities and thus ignores the unique, invisible, and systemic racism faced by Black employees relative to other disadvantaged groups that are covered by the categories established by the act,” the statement of claim said, adding that decisions on hiring and promotions are governed by enabling legislation for the public service, and not subject to union grievance.

By not hiring and promoting Black employees in a manner proportional to their numbers in the public service or the overall population or to a degree consistent with the treatment of other visible minority or white public servants, “Canada has treated Black employees in an adverse differential manner and has drawn distinctions” between Black bureaucrats and those of other races.

Requests for comment from the federal Attorney General’s Office were referred to the Treasury Board Secretariat.

“As this matter is currently before the courts, the Treasury Board Secretariat cannot comment on this suit at this time,” said an email from a department spokesperson.

“The government has taken steps to address anti-Black racism, systemic discrimination, and injustice across the country. Most recently, the fall economic statement committed $12-million over three years towards a dedicated Centre on Diversity and Inclusion in the Federal Public Service. This will accelerate the government’s commitment to achieving a representative and inclusive public service,” the email said, also highlighting the September Throne Speech where the government “announced an action plan to increase representation and leadership development within the public service.”

“Early in its mandate, the government also reflected its commitment in mandate letters, in the establishment of an Anti-Racism Strategy and Secretariat, in the appointment of a minister of diversity and inclusion and youth, and in the creation of the Office for Public Service Accessibility,” said the Treasury Board Secretariat statement.

In February, Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos (Québec, Que.) told The Hill Times that “the fact that Black employees tell us they are unable to be at their full potential is something of great concern to us. I will certainly address those concerns and make sure that every federal employee, including Black employees, has the ability to make the fullest impact on our society.”

NICHOLAS MARCUS THOMPSON ET AL. v. HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN by Charelle Evelyn on Scribd

Plaintiffs outline alleged mistreatment, exclusion

One of the representative plaintiffs, Nicholas Marcus Thompson, a union leader who was named activist of the year in January by the Public Service Alliance of Canada in Toronto, works for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Mr. Thompson has “repeatedly been denied promotions as a consequence of his race and due to his advocacy on behalf of other Black employees,” the statement of claim alleges.

One of the representative plaintiffs, Nicholas Marcus Thompson, says in the statement of claim that ‘merit was not a guiding principle for project assignment or advancement’ of Black public servants.

Mr. Thompson, who ran as an NDP candidate in Don Valley East, Ont., in 2019, said in the statement of claim that Black employees “were ghettoized in the lower ranks” of the public service and that “merit was not a guiding principle for project assignment or advancement.” Prejudice and indifference that “made the world polite, cool, and lonely to the point of permanent exclusion” are “Canadian-style systemic racism,” the claim said.Jennifer Philips has worked for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for more than 30 years, during which she has only been promoted once, according to the claim. “She watched as fellow non-Black colleagues, some of whom she had trained, climbed the ranks and enjoyed the benefits of a system designed to lift them up while holding her down.” The claim said she and other Black colleagues were also subject to “explicit and demeaning comments” made about their race, national or ethnic origin, as well as “attitudes and comments dismissing their ability to carry out their duties because of their race and ethnicity.”

Shalane Rooney was one of two Black employees in a roughly 300-person Statistics Canada office. Ms. Rooney began working for the agency in 2010, and in addition to being denied promotions and raises, said, according to the statement of claim, she was subject to comments “regarding [her] hair, [her] skin being too fair to have two Black parents, [colleagues] confirming with [her] if it is okay to say the ‘N’ word,” and more.

Other plaintiffs, such as Yonita Parkes, said that after complaining about race-related treatment by co-workers, the perpetrators were shuffled out laterally instead of being held accountable, while she was ostracized.

Daniel Malcolm highlighted in the statement of claim that Black employees like himself can be overlooked for permanent roles, despite acting in them for some time, because management can set their own criteria to make their preferred appointments from candidate pools, despite qualification or competition score.

Alain Babineau—a 28-year RCMP veteran who served on the protection detail for prime ministers Jean Chrétien, Stephen Harper, and Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) before leaving the force in September 2016—alleges in the statement that his first attempts to join the force in the early 1980s included being asked “What are you going to do if you get called a ‘nigger?’” during his recruiting interview, and later being racially profiled and falsely characterized as a drug dealer. Once he made it into the force, he was referred to as “Black man” instead of his name by the head of the drug section in which he worked. “This is the type of microaggression we endured as Black officers, but we shut our mouths and endure, on the belief that we can help to bring about change,” he said in the statement.

Bernadeth Betchi, who at one point was employed by the Prime Minister’s Office as a communications assistant to Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, alleges in the statement that her employment at both the CRA and the Canadian Human Rights Commission ultimately caused her stress, anxiety, and trauma. “As a consequence of the experiences of mistreatment and Black employee exclusion, [Ms.] Betchi lost faith in the commission’s ability to execute its mandate, seeing as it could not even promote equity within its own teams.”

Liberal MP Greg Fergus chairs the Parliamentary Black Caucus, which highlighted ‘systemic discrimination and unconscious bias’ in the federal public service in its June 16 statement and recommendations.

Repeated calls for change

The hiring, promotion, and overall treatment of people of colour within the public service, specifically Black people, has been a long-standing issue.

A 2000 report by the Treasury Board-created Task Force on the Participation of Visible Minorities in the Public Service noted that the federal public service, “which can be inhospitable to outsiders, can be particularly so to visible minorities,” and recommended, among other things, that the government set a benchmark for one-in-five “for visible minority participation government-wide” within the next five years.

The most recent report on employment equity in the core public service, covering the 2018-19 fiscal year, said that of the 203,286 employees tallied in March 2019, 54.48 per cent were women (compared to an estimated workforce availability of 52.7 per cent), 5.1 per cent were Indigenous persons (against an estimated workforce availability of four per cent), 5.2 per cent were people with disabilities (compared to nine per cent workforce availability), and 16.7 per cent were visible minorities (compared to 15.3 per cent). According to the report, 19 per cent of those who identify as a visible minority in the public service are Black.

Since its establishment in late 2017, the Federal Black Employee Caucus has been pushing to get disaggregated employment equity data collected so that employees, employers, and policy-makers can all understand the landscape for Black federal bureaucrats, and to provide an element of support and unity for Black employees who are facing harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

Former senator Donald Oliver has long championed the idea of a new federal government Department of Diversity headed by a Black deputy minister, and former Liberal-turned-Independent MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes introduced a private member’s bill in the dying days of the last Parliament to change the Employment Equity Act. The bill called for a requirement of the Canada Human Rights Commission to provide an annual report to the minister “on the progress made by the Government of Canada in dismantling systemic barriers that prevent members of visible minorities from being promoted within the federal public service and in remedying the disadvantages caused by those barriers.”

There are so few people of colour at the deputy and associate deputy minister level that the government won’t release numbers, for privacy reasons. Caroline Xavier, became the first Black woman to work at that level of the public service when she was appointed associate deputy minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada in February.

In October, the government awarded a contract worth $164,415 to executive recruitment firm Odgers Berndtson to “establish and maintain on an ongoing basis an inventory of qualified and interested Black people and other racialized groups, Indigenous people, as well as persons with disabilities, from outside the federal public service for the Government of Canada to consider for the deputy minister and assistant deputy minister cadre.”

In its June 16 statement, the Parliamentary Black Caucus also highlighted “systemic discrimination and unconscious bias” in the federal public service. Signatories called for measures that included improving Black representation in the senior ranks of the public service, implementing anti-bias training and evaluation programs, and establishing an “independent champion for Black federal employees through the creation of a national public service institute.”

Source: ‘Canadian-style systemic racism’: Black public servants file suit against federal government

What new disaggregated data tells us about federal public service diversity

My latest in Policy Options, taking advantage of disaggregated employment equity data:

Just how diverse is the federal public service? This question recently has attracted more scrutiny, particularly when it comes to the inclusion of Black Canadians in the bureaucracy. Before February, no Black person had made it to the deputy minister rank of the public service – Caroline Xavier is now associate deputy minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship. The speech from the throne included a commitment to “Implementing an action plan to increase representation in hiring and appointments, and leadership development within the public service.”

Now, for the first time, the federal government is providing disaggregated data related to the diversity of the public service as part of its Employment Equity Report. The Treasury Board Secretariat’s (TBS) report looks at the three fiscal years from 2016-19 by occupational group. Previously, disaggregated data for visible minority and Indigenous individuals employed in federal public administration (excluding the military) was only available through census data every five years. We now have the tools to do a more granular analysis of visible minority representation in each occupational group and see where work remains to be done. Table 1 looks at the overall visible minority representation in Canada, the visible minority population that are citizens, and the numbers shared in the government’s equity report. The citizenship number is taken here as a benchmark, since citizens are given preference in government staffing processes. This gives us a picture of the degree to which there is under-representation of certain groups compared to the citizenship-based benchmark. A note about the terminology: I have used the term visible minority, as do Statistics Canada and the Treasury Board Secretariat. Indigenous Peoples are their own category for data purposes, and do not fall under visible minority. While the visible minority group definitions are similar to those used by Statistics Canada, TBS groups Arab and West Asians together under “non-white West Asian, North African or Arab.” “Mixed Origin” refers to those with one visible minority parent. The representation of most groups is relatively close to their share of the citizenship population, with South Asian, Chinese and Filipino public servants less represented.Table 2 takes the same approach with respect to Indigenous representation with the exception that total and citizenship-based populations are identical, showing relative under-representation of First Nations and Inuit people.Table 3 compares the representation of each visible minority by occupational group, expressed as the percentage difference with non-visible minority, non-Indigenous employees for the three-year period 2017-19. For most groups, relative representation has not shifted dramatically from 2017 to 2019, with general under-representation in the executive, technical and operational categories.Among executives, no group has improved its representation by one percent or more from 2017 to 2019, with only individuals of mixed origins showing an increase of 0.6 percent, and Black, Filipino and Southeast Asian people showing marginal increases (0.1, 0.3 and 0.1 percent respectively). Table 4 similarly compares the representation of each Indigenous group by occupational groups, expressed as the percentage difference with non-visible minority, non-Indigenous employees for the three-year period 2017-19 (for the executive and technical occupational groups, there are fewer than five Inuit public servants, and thus the federal government does not provide numbers out of concern for privacy).While this analysis highlights the differences in visible minority and Indigenous representation among the different occupational categories, it does not break it down by seniority level. TBS declined to provide a disaggregated breakdown for assistant deputy ministers (level EX4-5) and directors and directors general (level EX1-3) given that breaking down the numbers to those subgroups would present a privacy risk. But TBS did say that of the 335 ADMs, 30 are visible minority (9.0 percent) and nine Indigenous (2.7 percent). Black Canadians are the visible minority group with the strongest numbers in the public service compared to their share of the citizen population, but their representation is overwhelmingly in the two administrative categories. This is not unique – there is significant under-representation among Latin American, Chinese, Filipino and South East Asian groups in the executive ranks of the public service. A similar general pattern can be found with Indigenous public service representation. With this type of disaggregated data in hand, policy discussions and responses can be based more solidly on evidence rather than relying on examples and anecdotes about who works in the public service. With better data, the government can hopefully build a more representative and inclusive public service at all levels.

Source: What new disaggregated data tells us about federal public service diversity

For those interested, the TBS dataset used can be found here: Employment Equity Sub-Group Population in the Public Service of Canada

Feds creating ‘inventory’ of racial minorities to fill senior public service posts

Reasonable approach. I recall when I worked for Global Affairs in the 90s, that a similar practice existed, run by HR, to identify promising women foreign service officers for development assignments and advancement. Some 20-30 years later, most of the names became senior officials:

The Liberal government wants to create an “inventory” of Black, Indigenous and other racialized people who could play high-ranking roles in the federal public service.

It is looking for an executive search firm to create and maintain the list of candidates from minority groups, as well as people with disabilities, who could be considered for deputy minister and assistant deputy minister positions.

Details of the planned database are contained in a request for proposals posted on the federal government’s procurement and public tenders website.

They were first reported by the True North Centre for Public Policy on its news site.

The call for the staffing consultant to do this work was put out by the Privy Council Office, a bureaucratic operation that supports the prime minister and cabinet.

The request for proposals does not disclose how much the contract will cost.

“The federal public service is stronger and most effective when it reflects the diversity of the Canadians it serves,” says the request for proposals.

“While progress has been made in recent years to achieve gender parity in the senior leadership community, there is more progress to be made in increasing representation of Black people and other racialized groups, Indigenous people, as well as persons with disabilities.”

Ordinarily, public servants rise through the ranks before attaining the most senior executive posts of deputy minister and assistant deputy minister.

However, the Employment Equity Act, which applies to federally regulated industries, Crown corporations and some portions of the federal public service, designates women, Indigenous Peoples, other visible minorities and people with disabilities as groups requiring special measures to overcome barriers to employment.

According to an analysis by Andrew Griffith, a former director general at the Immigration Department, in the October 2017 issue of Policy Options, less than four per cent of executive positions in the federal public service were Indigenous and less than 10 per cent were other visible minorities.

Caroline Xavier is the only Black assistant deputy minister, appointed in February at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

“We are in 2020. How come it took so long? It shouldn’t have,” she told the CBC in June.

The winning bidder will be required to update the list every two months.

Source: Feds creating ‘inventory’ of racial minorities to fill senior public service posts

Canada’s federal security and intelligence establishment encouraging employees to self-identify

Further to the earlier Hill Times story. Having gone through some of the recent reports (still awaiting a few), my general observation is the lower the representation numbers, the longer the reports and the more words describing the various initiatives underway). That being said, their cultures are different from elsewhere in the public service and thus the challenges greater:

A number of organizations in Canada’s security and intelligence establishment, including the Communications Security Establishment, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Community, the Department of National Defence, and the Canada Border Services Agency have been conducting campaigns to encourage employees who belong to one of the four designated groups listed in the Employment Equity Act—women, Indigenous people, members of a visible minority, and people with a disability—to self-identify, as part of their efforts to improve data collection and hiring practices.

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, composed of 11 MPs and Senators and chaired by Liberal MP David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Ont.), focused on diversity and inclusion issues in the security and intelligence community in its most recent annual report.

The report notes that one of the challenges in the security and intelligence committee surrounds voluntary self-identification.

But the report also notes that “self-identification campaigns and internal communications are [a] way organizations try to increase awareness on these issues,” and that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), and the Department of National Defence (DND) have conducted campaigns to “demystify the self-identification process and encourage employees to self identify.”

The Hill Times reached out to the four organizations noted in the report for more information on how they have done that.

Communications Security Establishment

Diversity and inclusion is an important element in ensuring that the Canadian security and intelligence community can effectively protect Canada, said Ryan Foreman, a media relations representative with the Communications Security Establishment (CSE).

Mr. Foreman outlined a number of initiatives undertaken by the CSE to encourage self-identification, including a 2017 push to increase organizational awareness of the requirements of the Employment Equity Act, and to explain how a diverse workforce strengthens CSE’s ability to deliver on its mandate.

“This included providing data to managers, and developing strategies to attract job applicants from underrepresented groups,” said Mr. Foreman, who also noted that CSE launched a self-identification campaign called “Show us what CSE is made of,” which was designed to encourage employees to self-identify.

“The messaging for this campaign communicated the importance of employment equity data and its impact on other organizational initiatives, such as recruitment and training,” said Mr. Foreman. “Both the 2017 initiative and the self-identification campaign started in 2018 are on-going.”

Canadian Security and Intelligence Community

“As Canada’s security and intelligence service, it is critical that CSIS reflects the communities it protects, wrote CSIS spokesperson John Townsend in an email to The Hill Times. “To this end, CSIS has implemented an ongoing internal communications campaign to encourage employees who belong to one of the four designated groups listed in the Employment Equity Act to self-identify.”

“The campaign includes an annual Employment Equity questionnaire among other tools to advise employees on the importance of self-identification.”

Ninety per cent of CSIS employees have engaged with these tools, according to Mr. Townsend.

“The work of making CSIS more representative of Canada is never finished but our commitment is steadfast and our efforts continue,” wrote Mr. Townsend.

Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces

Staff at the Department of National Defence and members of Canadian Armed Forces have returned self-identification forms at a greater rate this year than in the past, thanks to organizational efforts to spread the word about the importance of self-identification, according to Major Smyth, spokesperson for DND.

The Employment Equity Act requires that every member be provided the opportunity to self-identify as a member of a designated group, but it remains voluntary to do so.

As such, employment equity representation rates are based on a voluntary process and may not represent the actual employment equity representation in CAF, according to Mr. Smyth.

“Overall, the CAF continues to improve upon its self-identification return rates,” said Mr. Smyth. “The first part of the self-identification form is a personal identification portion. For this portion, the regular force achieved its highest return rate yet with 97.5 per cent of [members] having had the opportunity to self-identify as a member of a designated employment equity group.”

“While the return rates are lower in the primary reserve units, the CAF saw an overall increase in self-identification as designated group members from both regular force and primary reserve members compared to 2017/18.”

“Current representation rates, as of July 2020, for the regular force and the primary reserves combined, were as follows: women, 16 per cent; visible minorities, 9.3 per cent; and Indigenous Peoples, 2.8 per cent.”

DND/CAF did not identify the representation of persons with disabilities as of July 2020 in their response to The Hill Times.

The CAF works closely with Statistics Canada to ensure that “labour market data they provide, and upon which the CAF sets its employment equity representation rate goals, is reflective of the unique occupations and employment criteria of the CAF.”

“DND/CAF is committed to reflecting the Canadian ideals of diversity, respect and inclusion. Both long and short term goals have been created, based on the labour market analysis provided by Statistics Canada. We review our progress regularly to ensure that we are always working towards increasing representation rates,” said Mr. Smyth.”

Canadian Border Services Agency

The Canada Border Services Agency’s campaign encouraging self-identification began in 2017 and was repeated in 2018, according to Jacqueline Callin, spokesperson with the agency.

“They stressed the importance of understanding our workforce composition and reinforced that employee information would be protected. Recognizing that the Agency’s manual process might be contributing to response rates of 61 per cent, an online form was piloted with success in 2019 and was set to be launched in March 2020 as part of our ‘Your Voice Matters’ campaign. It has been postponed due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and current efforts are focused on how best to virtually promote self-identification,” she said.

Employment Equity Act ‘has served Canada and the public service well,’ says expert

Andrew Griffith, who is the former director general for Citizenship and Multiculturalism and has worked for a variety of government departments in Canada and abroad, told The Hill Times that the Employment Equity Act has served Canada and the public service well, and that the diversity of virtually every group has increased since the act was introduced.

“So the basic structure of the act, I think, has worked in the reporting structure and the data collection, and the publicity that comes with the results,” said Mr. Griffith, who is a fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and Environics Institute.

“But if you re-open the act, I’m just not sure that it’s worth all that much effort, time, and invariable divisiveness and controversies that it will raise,” said Mr. Griffith. “I’m thinking that if you want to use government time wisely, it would be more effective, I would think, [to look] at specific anti-racism initiatives and look at some of the specific barriers rather than a wholesale of revision of the act, because I think the challenge is less with the act and more with some of the practical stuff.”

Source: Canada’s federal security and intelligence establishment encouraging employees to self-identify

Employment Equity in the Public Service: 2018-19 Numbers and report

The latest employment equity report shows a slight uptick in representation compared to the previous year of women EX (from 49.1 to 50.2 percent, visible minorities (all, from 15.7 to 16.7 percent and EX, from 10.1 to 11.1 percent) and Aboriginal (Indigenous) EX (from 3.7 to 4.1 percent).

This year report provides breakdowns within each group (intersectionality):

  • Women: 17.0 percent visible minorities, 5.8 percent Indigenous
  • Visible Minorities: 55.6 percent women, 2.4 percent Indigenous
  • Indigenous: 61.5 percent women, 7.7 percent visible minorities

TBS is also providing sub-group info, with the chart below summarizing the breakdown among visible minority groups:

Historical charts below:

Source:  Annual Report Publication