Encore loin de la représentativité dans la fonction publique québécoise

Of note. But as in the case of the federal government, progress:

Le gouvernement du Québec tarde à atteindre ses objectifs d’accès à l’emploi pour les fonctionnaires des minorités visibles et ethniques. La fonction publique doit ajouter au strict minimum deux milliers d’employés issus de la diversité d’ici l’an prochain, mais le compte à rebours est bien amorcé.

Pour que « l’ensemble de la population du Québec puisse se reconnaître dans la fonction publique », Québec s’était fixé l’objectif que 18 % des employés de l’État fassent partie d’une minorité visible ou ethnique (MVE) en mars 2023. Or, selon des statistiques tout juste rendues publiques, le gouvernement est encore loin du compte.

Le 31 mars 2022, le taux de présence des personnes racisées parmi les quelque 60 000 employés de l’État s’élevait à 15,4 %, révèlent les données du Secrétariat du Conseil du trésor. C’est 1,4 point de pourcentage de plus que l’année précédente (14 %), mais encore loin de la cible réitérée l’an dernier par le Groupe d’action contre le racisme (GACR).

Mis sur pied lors du dernier mandat caquiste, ce comité interministériel n’a pas pu faire le bilan de ses actions en 2022 à temps pour les Fêtes. Celui-ci paraîtra « cet hiver, [donc] en 2023 », a indiqué au Devoir le cabinet du ministre responsable de la Lutte contre le racisme,Christopher Skeete. En décembre 2021, cependant, le ministre responsable de l’époque, Benoit Charette, avait convenu que la fonction publique en faisait « trop peu » en matière d’embauche de personnes racisées.

En quatre ans, la représentativité des personnes issues des MVE au gouvernement a grimpé de 4,1 points de pourcentage.

Des meilleurs aux pires

Le ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration remporte, et de loin, la palme de la représentativité. En mars, près de la moitié (46,1 %) de ses employés provenait de la diversité, et l’ensemble de ses objectifs régionaux avaient été atteints. Au second rang : le ministère de la Famille, à 28,4 %, puis l’Économie, à 21,1 %.

Parmi les cancres, le ministère de la Forêt, de la Faune et des Parcs — depuis scindé —, qui comptait dans ses rangs 3,4 % de personnes racisées en mars 2022. Non loin de là, le ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles — lui aussi remanié cet automne — (8,9 %), ainsi que celui de la Culture et des Communications (10,9 %).Interrogé par Le Devoir à ce sujet, le ministère de la Forêt, de la Faune et des Parcs n’a pas répondu dans les temps impartis. Son rapport annuel de gestion 2021-2022 indique cependant que sur 1112 nouvelles embauches, 63 personnes étaient issues des MVE.

Le ministère du Conseil exécutif, qui est piloté par l’équipe du premier ministre, atterrit aussi parmi les moins représentatifs. Au total, 8,3 % de ses employés sont des personnes racisées.

Dans son plan d’action déposé en décembre 2020, le GACR avait formulé cinq recommandations quant à l’emploi des minorités visibles et ethniques. « Pour faire de la fonction publique […] un employeur exemplaire », Québec s’engageait notamment à « négocier et à conclure, d’ici cinq ans, des ententes internationales en matière de reconnaissance des qualifications professionnelles » et à « garantir la présence d’au moins un membre provenant d’une minorité visible au sein de la majorité des conseils d’administration des sociétés d’État ».Le Secrétariat du Conseil du trésor, qui gère l’embauche des fonctionnaires, assure « met[tre] en place des actions pour soutenir les [ministères et organismes] dans l’atteinte des cibles ». « Au printemps et à l’automne 2021, le secrétaire du Conseil du trésor a transmis deux communications aux sous-ministres et aux dirigeants d’organismes afin de dresser le portrait de la situation et les inciter à mettre les efforts nécessaires en vue d’atteindre la cible de 18 % en 2023 », a écrit l’équipe des communications au Devoir vendredi.

Source: Encore loin de la représentativité dans la fonction publique québécoise

Proportion of women civil service leaders improves internationally – but only one G20 country [Canada] has achieved gender parity in top jobs

Of note. When I last looked at EX breakdowns a number of years ago, there was, as one would expect, greater representation at more junior levels (directors and DGs EX1-3) than at the ADM level (EX4-5):

Less than one in three senior civil servants across the governments of G20 countries are women, new research from Global Government Forum has found.

The latest Women Leaders Index found that only one G20 country – Canada – has reached gender parity in the top five grades of its public service (at 51.1%), and just four more are within 10 percentage points of doing so.

However, there has been improvement – the G20 mean (29.3%) has increased by 1.6 percentage points since our last Index in 2020 and by 6.0 points since our first 10 years ago.

The long-running Women Leaders Index is a league table ranking G20, EU and OECD countries on the proportion of women in senior roles within their national civil services. As well as tracking progress over time, it includes comparisons with women in government, women politicians, and women on private sector boards, alongside interviews with public service leaders in two of the top performing countries – Canada and South Africa.    

Those leading the G20 pack behind Canada, are Australia and South Africa – which tie in second place – the UK, Brazil, and Mexico and the European Commission, which tie in fifth place. Mexico has increased the representation of women in civil service leadership positions the most of all G20 nations, by a dramatic 24.3 percentage points over the last decade, while South Africa has made the most improvement in the two years since the last Index – a jump of 7.2 points.

Bringing up the G20 rear are Saudi Arabia, Japan, South Korea, China and Turkey, in which representation of women in the senior civil service is between 2.5% and 11.7%.

Countries including Germany, Italy, France and the US reside in the middle of the G20 ranking, with women accounting for between 32.0% and 38.0% of top roles in each.   https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/rr33B/4/

EU and OECD countries faring better than those in the G20  

Though the G20 has traditionally been the main ranking in the Women Leaders Index, it also analyses representation of women in the highest grades of national civil services in EU and OECD countries.

The Index found that overall, EU and OECD countries are doing better on representation of women in senior positions in government departments and agencies – for which the mean proportions are 42.7% and 36.2% respectively – than those in the G20*.

The mean across the European Union’s member states has improved by 0.8 percentage points since 2020, and by 7.5 points since 2012, with nine of the EU’s 27 member states having reached gender parity in the top two tiers of their civil services. Bulgaria tops this ranking, with women accounting for 59.5% of those running government departments, followed by Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, Finland, Latvia, Romania, Lithuania, and Portugal.https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/GU3A7/4/

Read our Canada perspective from seasoned public service leader Yazmine Laroche, including transferable lessons on how to make progress towards gender parity

Croatia has made the most improvement of all EU nations since 2012 – a rise of 21.1 percentage points, while Bulgaria has made the greatest improvement since the 2020 Index, of 7.8 points.

Latvia, where women account for 56% of the top tiers of its civil service, tops the OECD ranking, while six more – Sweden, Iceland, New Zealand, Greece, Canada and Slovakia – have reached or exceeded gender parity.https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/wpOb5/2/

Regression in some countries – but public services performing better overall

While most G20, EU and OECD countries have improved the representation of women in the highest grades of their civil services in recent years, some have regressed.

The G20 data shows that in Russia and Argentina there are fewer officials in senior positions now than in 2020, while China, Turkey and South Korea have regressed since 2012.  

Six EU countries – Sweden, Poland, Cyprus, Italy, the Czech Republic and Luxembourg – perform worse in terms of representation of women in the top two tiers of the civil service since 2020, while Hungary is worse off now than 10 years ago.  

However, on a positive note, when looking at the means across the G20, EU and OECD, it is clear that civil services are doing better on representation of women in leadership roles compared with ministerial cabinet appointments, elected politicians and the boards of publicly-listed private sector companies.

Read our South Africa perspective from Zukiswa Mqolomba, deputy chairperson of the country’s Public Service Commission, on why making real and positive change isn’t just a numbers game

“Many governments have made impressive gains on representation of women in leadership positions in recent years as a result of concerted efforts to make change and should be applauded,” said Mia Hunt, author of the Women Leaders Index report and editor of globalgovernmentforum.com. 

“However, while it is widely accepted that civil services with diverse workforces that resemble the populations they serve turn out better policies and better outcomes for citizens, the mean proportion of women in top civil service positions across G20 nations is still less than 30%. Clearly, there is much more work to be done.

“We hope this Index gives the countries that have made progress the recognition they deserve, whilst serving as a wake-up call for those most in need of improvement. Let us see what’s changed when we publish the next in this Women Leaders Index series.”

*Please note that grade definitions vary between the G20, EU and OECD datasets. Caution should be exercised when making comparisons – see methodology here.

Source: Proportion of women civil service leaders improves internationally – but only one G20 country has achieved gender parity in top jobs

‘Be an ally’: Black public servants facing ‘trauma’ amid class action, says organizer

Thompson is an effective communicator and advocate.

Unfortunately, the employment equity data for the public service does not indicate that Black public servants representation are disproportionately under-represented at the EX and other levels compared  to other visible minorities for the most part.

However, the public service employee survey does show higher perceptions of discrimination than most other visible minority groups.

One of the organizers behind the class action lawsuit filed against the federal government by Black public servants says he wants Canadians learning about the experiences of claimants in the case to “be an ally” amid a process that is causing “trauma” for those involved.

In an interview with The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson, Nicholas Marcus Thompson said the government is “speaking from both sides of its mouth” when it comes to squaring the treatment of claimants in the lawsuit in court with the comments officials make publicly about dismantling racism.

“They’re saying one thing publicly and they’re fighting Black workers in court,” he said, adding federal lawyers keep bringing forward motions “to delay the case.”

“The government has fully acknowledged that this issue exists in all of its institutions and that the pain and damage that it causes is real. And then it shows up in court fighting Black workers, forcing Black workers to recount the trauma that they’ve endured at the hands of the government for decades.”

The class action lawsuit filed last year alleges systemic discrimination by the government when it comes to hiring and promotional decisions in the federal public service, dating back decades.

Plaintiffs in the case are seeking $2.5 billion in compensation for lost income, opportunities, and lost pension values as a result of systemic discrimination that prevented qualified Black public servants from being promoted into higher paying and more senior jobs.

Federal public service pensions are calculated based on the averages of an individual’s highest earning years, meaning those who get paid less throughout their careers get smaller pensions when they retire.

“There has been a de facto practice of Black employee exclusion from hiring and promotion throughout the Public Service because of the permeation of systemic discrimination through Canada’s institutional structures,” the statement of claim says.

The statement of claim also says that equity measures taken to date have “merely masked the increasing disparity, exclusion and marginalization of Black Canadians” from equal opportunities in the public service, and that there remains a “pernicious” underrepresentation in the upper ranks.

Thompson said he wants to see the government come to the table and commit to working towards the solutions that plaintiffs say would help fix the problem, and to make legislative changes to the Employment Equity Act as well.

“We’re seeking to create a separate and distinct category for Black workers under the legislation to ensure that Black workers are not left behind when it comes to hiring and promotional opportunities,” he said. Thompson also added there needs to be a commission formed to track concrete progress on preventing future discrimination.

“Black people want to fully participate and they’re being denied that opportunity at the highest level and the largest employer in Canada,” he said.

“So listen to us. Be an ally and let’s work together because we want to make Canada a better place and to fully participate in Canada.”

Source: ‘Be an ally’: Black public servants facing ‘trauma’ amid class action, says organizer

Diversity of UK senior civil service falls, rises at lower grades

Of note. Canadian figures by way of comparison, all visible minorities 18.9 percent, executives 12.4 percent, EX-4 10.1 percent, EX-5 9.2 percent (EX-4 and 5 likely equivalent to senior UK public servants):

The percentage of UK civil servants from an ethnic minority background is at a record high, according to the latest figures, but the proportion in top jobs has fallen for the first time since 2015.

Official figures for 2022 revealed that, of those with a known ethnicity, the percentage of government officials who are from an ethnic minority background is at a record high of 15.0% – up from 14.3% in 2021, and 9.3% a decade ago.

There was a year-on-year increase at all grades, with the exception of the senior civil service – the group of officials who run government departments or hold other top posts. In this group, there was a year-on-year decline from 10.6% in 2021 to 10.3% in 2022.

Percentage of civil servants from an ethnic minority background by grade 2012 to 2022

Civil Service Statistics 2022

The government had previously pledged to increase the percentage of senior civil servants who are from an ethnic minority year-on-year to reach 13.2% in the three year period from 2022 to 2025. However, in its Diversity and Inclusion Strategy: 2022 to 2025, published earlier this year, the government said it had stopped using targets to measure progress. “We will mainstream our success measures with our broader organisational priorities, such as Places for Growth [the plan to move officials out of London and into the regions of the UK], senior civil service workforce planning, talent schemes and recruitment priorities. Rather than relying on standalone targets, our ambitions will be embedded in these key deliverables designed to improve our delivery for citizens. Where our data indicates progress is not being made, action will be taken,” the strategy said.

The strategy made only one mention of people from ethnic minority backgrounds, stating: “We will make sure that people from minority ethnic backgrounds, those living with disabilities and those who have experienced disadvantage in their early lives can flourish in public service.”

Source: Diversity of UK senior civil service falls, rises at lower grades

Employment Equity Act Review: My submission

It’s Time to Abolish the Absurd (and Slightly Racist) Concept of “Visible Minorities”

Apart from some of the hyperbole, without some system of classification, it becomes difficult if not impossible to assess socioeconomic and political outcomes and thus inclusivity. Visible minorities, like Indigenous peoples, have disaggregated data which is increasingly more widespread (e.g., public service).

It is one thing to criticize how activist use the data, another to argue for not collecting and analyzing the data.

In my analysis of public service employment equity, I find many activists have not taken a serious look at the data in making their case for change (see Will the removal of the Canadian citizenship preference in the public service make a difference?, where I provide occupational and group breakdowns, which interestingly, for example, that Blacks in EX positions were under-represented to a lessor degree than South Asians and Chinese).

But data, in highlighting similarities and differences, provides a frame under which one can analyse and hopefully understand some of the underlying reasons for those differences, as Skuterud does (some of which may reflect historically patterns of discrimination).

As to repealing the Employment Equity Act, hard to see any government doing so or abandoning the collection of disaggregated data minority groups. But Woolley’s point of shifting the focus towards socioeconomic measures of disadvantage is not incompatible with attention to minority groups as a means of analyzing and assessing differences in outcomes.

No other country in the world divides itself along racial lines as we do in Canada. According to federal legislation, our country consists of three distinct race groups: Indigenous people, whites and everybody else. Members of this final catch-all category are officially deemed “visible minorities” and defined in law as “persons, other than Aboriginal people, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.” Canadians can either be native, white or non-white. How’s that for inclusivity?

The term “visible minority” was invented in 1975 by black activist Kay Livingstone, founder of the Canadian Negro Women’s Association, as the means to unite disparate immigrant groups at a time when Canada was overwhelmingly Caucasian. By 1984, the phrase had gained sufficient currency to play a starring role in the final report of Judge Rosalie Silberman Abella’s Commission on Equality in Employment, and was later enshrined in law via the federal Employment Equity Act of 1986. This law requires all public and private sector employers to improve the job prospects for visible minorities, women, Aboriginals and people with disabilities through the elimination of barriers and creation of various “special measures,” such as targeted hiring. Today, this dichotomy of “able-bodied white males versus everyone else” still forms the basis for myriad policies and regulations meant to impose greater diversity in the workplace and throughout society.

While Abella’s report was instrumental in cementing the concept of visible minorities in federal law, she recognized at the time that lumping everyone who isn’t white into a single generic category could create complications. “To combine all non-whites together as visible minorities for the purpose of devising systems to improve their equitable participation, without making distinctions to assist those groups in particular need, may deflect attention from where the problems are greatest,” Abella wrote. That said, the future appointee to the Supreme Court of Canada figured a solution would eventually appear. “At present,” she observed, “data available from Statistics Canada are not sufficiently refined by race…to make determinative judgements as to which visible minorities appear not to be in need of employment equity programs.” (Emphasis in original.)

The term ‘visible minority’ was invented in 1975 by black activist Kay Livingstone, founder of the Canadian Negro Women’s Association, as the means to unite disparate immigrant groups at a time when Canada was overwhelmingly Caucasian.Tweet

Nearly four decades later, Canada no longer suffers from an absence of race-based data. We are, in fact, inundated with it. And the evidence arising from this flood of racially-focused statistical work is clear and unambiguous: the entire concept of visible minorities – along with the superstructure of policies and laws that support it – makes no sense in our pluralistic 21st century Canada. It’s time to abolish this outdated, imprecise and subtly racist idea.

The Data Speak Volumes

Among the Trudeau government’s many indulgences to the cause of social justice has been the creation of the Centre for Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics at Statistics Canada. Reports from this branch of our national statistical agency focus almost exclusively on dividing Canadian society up into ever-smaller slices by race, gender and other attributes (a recent effort tracks the educational attainment of bisexual people) and frequently serve as fodder for activists intent on claiming Canada is rife with systemic discrimination and racism whenever a gap is identified. Yet a gap-filled study released last month examining how various racial groups within the visible minority category are doing in Canada’s labour market received surprisingly little attention from the media or within activist circles. This may be because most of the gaps it reveals aren’t the sort that give rise to claims of racism.

The results of the study by Statcan researchers Theresa Qiu and Grant Schellenberg will come as a shock to anyone expecting to find whites sitting atop the labour market. Rather, the best earners are Canadian-born Japanese males, who earn an average $1,750 per week. This compares to $1,530 earned by white men. Chinese, Korean and South Asian (from India, Pakistan etc.) males also take home more than whites. Among women, whites are out-earned by a majority of groups within the visible minority category, including Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Filipino, South Asian and Southeast Asian (from Vietnam, Thailand etc.). At $1,450 per week, the average Canadian-born Korean woman earns $330 more per week than the average white woman. For both men and women, the two lowest-earning categories are blacks and Latin Americans.

Source: The weekly earnings of Canadian-born individuals in designated minority and White categories in the mind-2010s by Theresa Qiu and Grant Schellenberg, Statistics Canada, 2022

While clearly contrary to current narratives declaring all of North America to be a bastion of white supremacy, these findings are not unusual for either side of the border. The latest American data on full-time workers similarly shows Asian men to be the highest income earners among full-time workers in the U.S., at US$1,457 per week, exceeding the US$1,108 per year earned by white men. 

Asian women also out-earn American white women, by nearly US$200 per week. Other data from the Pew Research Center on household income point to South Asian-born families as the top earners in the U.S. by a substantial margin.  It bears notice that Qiu and Schellenberg wisely avoid confusing the immigrant experience, which entails numerous challenges of language, culture and credentials, with that of being a visible minority in Canada. They do so by focusing only on Canadian-born visible minorities aged 25 to 45 (that is, young second-generation immigrants) and comparing them with similarly situated whites. 

Source: Facts on U.S. Immigrants, 2018 by Pew Research Center, 2020

The researchers further refined their work by adjusting for university education and other demographic characteristics. Here South Asian men were found to do significantly better than white men. Blacks and Latin Americans again did worse. Among women, several visible minority categories statistically outperformed whites, and no group – not even black women – did worse.

The results illustrate the pre-eminence of a university education in explaining job market success. ‘Nearly three-quarters of Canadian-born Chinese women have a university degree,’ marvels Skuterud. ‘That’s amazing.’Tweet

A Good News Story for Many, but not All

Do such results bolster the loud and widespread narrative that Canada is a systemically racist country? According to one labour market expert, such a declaration is impossible to make despite the large gaps in performance seen across the visible minority subgroups. “There is absolutely no way to infer any conclusion from this data about whether there is racial discrimination in the labour market,” says Mikal Skuterud, an economist at the University of Waterloo, in an interview. “Some groups are clearly outperforming whites, but no one would interpret that as evidence of discrimination against whites, or for Canadians with Chinese, Korean or Japanese ancestry.”

To Skuterud, the fact many Asian groups outperform the rest of Canadian society is a “good news story” since these segments comprise a large and growing share of Canada’s current immigration intake; this bodes well for the integration of future immigrants from these countries in coming years. The results also illustrate the pre-eminence of a university education in explaining job market success, as the strong performance across many Asian groups is closely linked to their high rates of university completion. “Nearly three-quarters of Canadian-born Chinese women have a university degree,” marvels Skuterud. “That’s amazing.”

Skuterud is troubled, however, by the poor results for blacks and Latin Americans, something that also appears in his own research. It is conceivable, he notes, that such persistent gaps are the result of labour market discrimination specifically targeted towards certain groups, rather than across the entire visible minority population. Such a possibility requires further investigation, he says. There are, however, numerous other explanations for this phenomenon, including broader cultural or socioeconomic factors not captured by the recent study. For example, another Statcan report found the rate of lone parenthood, a factor strongly associated with poverty and poor educational outcomes, is nearly three times more common among black mothers than in Canadian society at large. “Black immigrant populations stand out for their prevalence of lone mothers compared to the rest of the Canadian population,” the 2020 report observed. It is hard to imagine this not being a significant factor when it comes to the jobs market.

Taken at the broadest level, Qiu and Schellenberg’s results can be seen as a thorough dismantling of Livingstone’s nearly half-century-old claim that the term “visible minority” describes a single coherent category unified by the lack of whiteness of its members. This “group” now includes both the highest and lowest-earning racial categories in Canada, a fact that stretches diversity to the point of absurdity. The exceptional outcomes for Canadian-born Asian men and women strongly suggest factors other than discrimination – primarily education, family and socioeconomic status – are driving the divergence in earnings across race. And if skin colour is not a useful explanation for performance in the labour market, using it as a basis to set employment targets, as is the case within the federal public service, becomes a perversion of good policy.

“Did it ever make any sense?” 

In a column in the Globe and Mail nearly a decade ago, Carleton University economist Frances Woolley declared that, “There is something almost racist about the assumption that whites are the standard against which anyone else is noticeably, visibly different.” Her opinion hasn’t changed much since then. Asked today if it still makes sense for Canada to enshrine the concept of visible minority in law given the recent Statcan results, she shoots back, “Did it ever make any sense?”

The current system, Woolley observes in an interview, is entirely arbitrary in its binary conception of people as either white or not. “The word white is very imprecise,” she notes. According to Statcan, for example, Greek Canadians are European and part of the dominant white, mainstream society. Yet anyone who traces their roots to Turkey, right next door, is considered West Asian and hence a visible minority. As a result, one neighbour is eligible for special measures and one is not. Plus, “a lot of people who consider themselves white – such as Lebanese Christians – are identified as visible minorities by the Census,” Woolley adds. The U.S. classifies most Arab ethnicities as Caucasian.

The rise of individuals with multiple or competing racial identities due to the rapid growth in interracial marriages further complicates the notion of colour-coding Canada’s population. The share of mixed-race relationships has more than doubled over the past decade and now comprises 7.3 percent of all marriages and common-law relationships in this country. As these couples have children, it will get progressively more difficult to sort Canadians into separate racial baskets of white and non-white. (Aka oppressors and victims.)  

Then there is the issue of how nearly everyone can end up being considered part of a minority group and thus deserving of special treatment. Visible minorities currently comprise 22 percent of Canada’s total population, based on 2016 Census data, a figure that will undoubtedly rise with the release of updated 2021 Census data later this year. In some urban centres such as Surrey, B.C. or Markham, Ontario, visible minorities already constitute a clear majority. Indigenous people make up another 5 percent of Canada and people with disabilities are estimated at 22 percent. Finally, women represent 50 percent of all other groups. “Designated groups [under the Employment Equity Act] are now an overwhelming majority in the labour market,” says Woolley. “Surely we can all agree that’s problematic.”

The only slice of the Canadian population not offered special treatment under this framework is that of able-bodied white men. Yet the notion that white men stand astride the Canadian economy like a Colossus is both outdated and unfair. As Qiu and Schellenberg reveal, white men have one of the lowest rates of university completion across all racial groups, at 24 percent. This is significantly lower than black women at 36 percent, and only slightly higher than black men, at 20 percent. Given the importance of education to future earnings, low rates of university education in any racial group should be a troubling matter for fair-minded policy-makers.

Whites, both male and female, are also much more likely to live outside urban areas, another factor Qiu and Schellenberg found to be associated with lower earnings. And as a group, whites are noticeably older than those within the various visible minority subcategories. All of which suggests whites, and in particular white men, are likely to face strong headwinds in the future. They may, in fact, be more deserving of government attention than many other identity categories. “The real question,” insists Woolley, “is how can we make the system fair for everyone, not just designated groups.”

A Better Way Than Racializing Everything

Faced with the obvious folly of the entire visible minority concept, the progressive activist community appears focused on changes of nomenclature rather than substance. Linguistic constructs such as BIPOC or “racialized individuals” are more commonly used these days than the term visible minority. But such changes raise more questions than they answer. Consider BIPOC, an imported American acronym for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour. But aren’t black people also people of colour? And if so, why include them twice? As for “racialized,” the word appears derived from an invented verb: to racialize. But that suggests identity is dependant on the views of others, rather than a permanent, self-conceived state.

Any real commitment to tackling the inconsistencies inherent to the uniquely Canadian concept of visible minority must do more than just fiddle with terminology. In its 2020 Fall Economic Statement, the Trudeau government announced plans to review and modernize the Employment Equity Act. The most attractive solution would be to scrap it altogether and recuse the federal government from any further involvement in private-sector hiring practices. A competitive job market driven by need and focused on merit has no apparent problems hiring well-qualified candidates regardless of race, as the Asian experience ample demonstrates. Yet such a hands-off, market-driven and colour-blind approach seems extremely unlikely.

In the absence of simple economic logic, one immediate remedy would be to stop using whites as the reference group. Given evidence that whites no longer command the highest wages or best jobs, it makes more sense to shift to a simple Canadian average in future Statcan reports. This would resolve Woolley’s complaint about the implicit racism of making whites the standard by which all others are measured. “If you tested everyone relative to the Canadian average rather than whoever is considered ’white,’ I think that would be a good thing,” she says. “It would mean we are no longer taking the white experience as aspirational, or the norm.”

Achieving a colour-blind labour market would require shifting away from our current preoccupation with race to focus on more important factors. Poverty would be a good place to start.Tweet

Then again, any system that continues to examine performance by race, regardless of the comparator, perpetuates the fiction that racial identity is the ne plus ultra of the job market – if not personhood itself. While a fixation on skin colour has lately come to define public policy in many troubling ways, doing so embeds the concept that Canada is a collection of disparate racial groups constantly in conflict with one another. It would be far healthier for society to simply accept that we all share a common identity as members of a pluralistic Canada. Full stop.  

Plenty of evidence suggests Canadians don’t care nearly as much about race as the media or political classes constantly claim they do. Consider the 2019 federal election, which featured those potentially damning images of a young Justin Trudeau in blackface. Most Canadians simply shrugged it off. As author Christopher Dornan observed in his book recapping the election, “The issue of racism – overt and latent, deliberate and unwitting, systemic and extrinsic – simply did not take hold in the election discourse.”

Achieving a colour-blind labour market would require shifting away from a preoccupation with race to focus on more important factors. Poverty would be a good place to start. Says Woolley, “If your family income is a million dollars a year and both your parents have PhDs, then the colour of your skin doesn’t matter. The same goes if you grew up in foster care and have struggled all your life.” Disadvantage and hardship can occur in families of all races and ethnicities. Yet under Canada’s visible minority framework, needy individuals can be ignored while others with a different skin tone get a leg-up they don’t deserve. “We need a fair process and fair procedures,” Woolley asserts.

A fairer system, Woolley says, should “try to get at socioeconomic measures of disadvantage rather than assuming that identity” is the crucial factor. As an example of such a system, she points to the fact many universities around the world that now use socioeconomic status (SES) measures such as family income, rather than race, to determine entrance qualifications for disadvantaged students. Such “class-based” or “race-neutral” standards have a successful track record in Israel.

SES factors are also widely used in the U.S., although they remain a work in progress. The reason many American schools rely on SES is that they’ve been forbidden from accepting students based solely on race due to court rulings on constitutional grounds. In many cases, however, the universities manipulate their allegedly colour-blind SES rankings in order to sort students by colour regardless of what the courts say. This has led to numerous lawsuits objecting to such subterfuge, including one well-publicized case involving Asian students denied entrance to Harvard University because of their race. (They lost in 2019, but the case is now heading to the Supreme Court.) Regrettably, even plans meant to ignore race somehow end up becoming fixated on race.

The final word on ending to racial employment laws should go to the great human rights advocate Martin Luther King, Jr. King strongly opposed race-based quotas and other affirmative action measures because he anticipated their divisive effect on social harmony. In 1964 he wrote, “It is my opinion that many white workers whose economic condition is not too far removed from the economic condition of his black brother, will find it difficult to accept…special consideration to the Negro in the context of unemployment, joblessness etc. and does not take into sufficient account their [own] plight.” He argued against different treatment based on race because he thought help should be provided to all who need it, regardless of their skin colour. In other words, he dreamt of a truly just and fair world. We’re still waiting.

Source: It’s Time to Abolish the Absurd (and Slightly Racist) Concept of “Visible Minorities”

Will the removal of the Canadian citizenship preference in the public service make a difference

My latest:

In recent employment equity reports, the federal government has provided disaggregated representation for visible minorities, Indigenous people and persons with disabilities to help assess how well the public service represents the public it serves. Previously, disaggregated data for visible minority and Indigenous groups in public administration was available only through census data every five years.

The 2020 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, which was later confirmed in changes to the Public Service Employment Act.

The changes include longer-term and more-complex policies to address “bias and barriers” that impact all equity-seeking groups, as well as one change that will have an early impact for visible minorities  ̶  removing the preference for Canadian citizens: “Permanent residents now have the same preference as Canadian Citizens when appointments are made through external advertised hiring processes.”

There was no debate on this change when the legislation was considered by the House of Commons finance committee  ̶  despite its impact  ̶  because it was included in an omnibus budget bill.

A recent Public Service Commission study on the “citizenship of applicants and external appointments” highlighted the impact of this policy: while visible minority citizens were 17.2 per cent of all applicants and 19.5 per cent of all hires, visible minorities who are only permanent residents formed 5.1 per cent of all applicants and only 1.2 per cent of all hires in 2018-19.

The former preference for citizens was subject to criticism by some visible minority groups because it effectively reduced the opportunities for non-citizen visible minorities. Its removal should ensure more equitable opportunities for all visible minorities at all stages of selection, although other barriers  ̶  such as education, official language knowledge and possible bias  ̶  may remain. Whether this change represents a theoretical or practical change will be known only after a few years when we can compare pre- and post-change hiring numbers.

Table 1 (below) looks at overall visible minority representation, contrasting the total visible minority population, the older citizenship-based benchmark, the 2019-20 employment equity report numbers, and the degree to which there is over-representation or under-representation, compared to the new and old benchmarks.

By way of comparison, the government estimates that the visible minority workforce availability (WFA)  ̶  the share of the Canadian workforce eligible for public service work  ̶  based on the 2016 census is 15.3 per cent based upon the citizenship preference. The removal of the citizenship preference and the inclusion of permanent residents will result in WFA being revised upward closer to the overall visible minority population number following its recalculation in the 2021 census.

https://e.infogram.com/ff0c9445-a9ba-49e9-951c-000bdeab6da3?parent_url=https%3A%2F%2Fpolicyoptions.irpp.org%2Fmagazines%2Fseptembe-2021%2Fwill-the-removal-of-the-canadian-citizenship-preference-in-the-public-service-make-a-difference%2F&src=embed#async_embed

The representation of most groups is relatively close to their share of the citizenship population and greater than WFA for all employees, with larger gaps for executives. The population benchmark shows larger gaps, particularly with respect to executives. Non-identified and mixed-origin visible minorities are relatively over-represented for all employees and executives.

Table 2 takes the same approach with respect to Indigenous representation with the exception that total and citizenship-based populations are identical. It shows relative over-representation of Métis, and under-representation of First Nations and Inuit for all employees, with all groups under-represented at the executive level. The government Indigenous workforce availability estimate, based on the 2016 census, is 4 per cent.

https://e.infogram.com/a1f9d790-ab71-4b2a-b404-c55784a9bda9?parent_url=https%3A%2F%2Fpolicyoptions.irpp.org%2Fmagazines%2Fseptembe-2021%2Fwill-the-removal-of-the-canadian-citizenship-preference-in-the-public-service-make-a-difference%2F&src=embed#async_embed

Table 3 compares the representation of each visible minority by occupational group, expressed as the percentage difference with employees who are not a visible minority and not Indigenous for 2020. Visible minorities are slightly under-represented among executives, more so among technical, with the greatest gap in operational groups. Visible minorities are over-represented in scientific and professional with some exceptions, and in administration and foreign service, although there is a mixed pattern with respect to admin support.

https://e.infogram.com/5167cfb7-82b0-4e3b-aa8c-b91d88155f8b?parent_url=https%3A%2F%2Fpolicyoptions.irpp.org%2Fmagazines%2Fseptembe-2021%2Fwill-the-removal-of-the-canadian-citizenship-preference-in-the-public-service-make-a-difference%2F&src=embed#async_embed

Table 4 highlights the change in representation from 2017 to 2020, comparing the percentage change in representation for each visible minority group with the percentage of all public servants who are neither a visible minority nor Indigenous for each occupational category. Overall, visible minority representation has increased by 35.9 per cent compared with only 11.8 per cent for those who are neither a visible minority nor Indigenous. This applies to virtually all groups and categories, with Japanese being the exception and Chinese having a relatively lower increase.

https://e.infogram.com/95552279-d527-467c-b7ab-1f19c6c393d8?parent_url=https%3A%2F%2Fpolicyoptions.irpp.org%2Fmagazines%2Fseptembe-2021%2Fwill-the-removal-of-the-canadian-citizenship-preference-in-the-public-service-make-a-difference%2F&src=embed#async_embed

Table 5 similarly compares the representation of each Indigenous group by occupational categories expressed as the percentage difference with employees who are neither a visible minority nor Indigenous for 2020 (for the executive and technical occupational groups, there are fewer than five Inuit and Other public servants and thus no reporting). All Indigenous groups are under-represented among executives, with the largest gap in scientific and professional categories, but are relatively over-represented in the admin and foreign service, and admin support areas.

https://e.infogram.com/d73da749-3aa9-46e6-894e-fe1b5c9da026?parent_url=https%3A%2F%2Fpolicyoptions.irpp.org%2Fmagazines%2Fseptembe-2021%2Fwill-the-removal-of-the-canadian-citizenship-preference-in-the-public-service-make-a-difference%2F&src=embed#async_embed

Table 6 highlights the change in representation from 2017 to 2020. Overall, the growth in Indigenous representation has been comparable to the growth of not-a-visible minority, not-Indigenous public servants, 11.9 per cent compared to 11.8 per cent. However, Inuit representation has increased significantly, as has that of Métis executives, with First Nations declining relative to not-a-visible minority, not-Indigenous employees.

https://e.infogram.com/61dccf4a-8190-47db-955e-3a91591073f1?parent_url=https%3A%2F%2Fpolicyoptions.irpp.org%2Fmagazines%2Fseptembe-2021%2Fwill-the-removal-of-the-canadian-citizenship-preference-in-the-public-service-make-a-difference%2F&src=embed#async_embed

While this analysis highlights the differences in visible minority and Indigenous representation among the different occupational categories, it does not break it down by level or salary. Census data for the federal public service shows, however, that Black, Filipino and Latin American workers had the lowest median incomes compared to not-a-visible minority. Among Indigenous Peoples, First Nations have the lowest median incomes compared to non-Indigenous.

Given political and public service focus on Black representation, Blacks are the visible minority group with the strongest representation compared to their share of the population with respect to all public servants, and Blacks have stronger representation than South Asian, Chinese and Filipinos in the EX category. Moreover, the percentage increase over the past four years has been comparable or stronger than that of most other visible minority groups. Representation of visible minority groups has increased at three times the rate of not-a-visible minority, not-Indigenous public servants. In contrast, Indigenous representation has matched only the rate of increase, suggesting more effort is needed.

The public service is clearly making significant progress with respect to visible minority representation. The removal of the citizenship preference will likely accelerate this trend toward increased representation.

Given the expected upward revision of the WFA, the gap between actual representation and WFA will increase despite the public service already hiring and promoting more visible minorities. The degree to which the removal of the citizenship preference results in greater increases in representation will be known only after a few years and further public service analysis of citizenship status of visible minority hires and promotions.

Ironically, advocates for this change and greater representation will likely focus more on the larger gap due to the benchmark change, rather than the progress in representation.

Methodology

Data was provided by the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) for visible minorities, Indigenous Peoples and persons with disabilities, based upon self-identification for the fiscal years 2016-17 to 2019-20 by occupational group. 2020 data was compared to 2017 data to indicate changes over this period, with visible minority and Indigenous Peoples being compared against the not-visible minority and not-Indigenous for the different occupation categories on a percentage basis. The formula used: (2020 number of public servants minus 2017 number of public servants) divided by 2017 number of public servants. 

For example, in 2020, there were 99 Black executives compared with 73 in 2017 or an increase of 26. That is a (26 ÷ 73 =) 35.6 per cent increase. The overall increase in the number of executives who were neither a visible minority nor Indigenous was 5,244 – 4,592 or 652; 652 ÷ 4,592 = 14.2 per cent. Subtracting the percentage increase of all executives from the percentage increase of Black executives: 35.6 per cent – 14.2 per cent = 21.4 percentage points.

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. By contrast, Statistics Canada uses a “multiple visible minorities” category to include persons with more than one visible minority response.

While the employment equity reports also provide disaggregated data regarding persons with disabilities, the totals do not match with the disability total (10,622 persons) in the annual reports because one person can have multiple disabilities, making it difficult to perform a similar analysis by particular disability.

Source: https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/septembe-2021/will-the-removal-of-the-canadian-citizenship-preference-in-the-public-service-make-a-difference/

Does Canada’s census undercount visible minorities?

A relatively minor issue IMO compared to other priorities given only affects less than 3 percent of Census respondents (but likely to increase over time given mixed unions).

The separate issue of Blacks being counted only as part of visible minorities applies only to the federally regulated sectors (banking, communications, transport) and TBS now provides disaggregated data for visible minorities, Indigenous peoples and Persons with disabilities for the last four years (summaries in the annual employment equity groups, detailed tables on open data – https://www.canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat/services/innovation/human-resources-statistics/diversity-inclusion-statistics.html).

And of course, the census data has these breakdowns that allow a wide range of analysis of socioeconomic status and other issues:

Statistics Canada is working to improve how it collects and analyzes data about people who belong to more than one visible minority group, as critics fear the federal agency’s current methodology has led to an “undercount” of racialized populations.

Ever since questions about visible minorities were added to the census in 1996, people belonging to those population groups have been classified in several ways.

At issue are those who check off more than one group out of the listed options: Chinese, South Asian, Black, Arab, West Asian, Filipino, Southeast Asian, Latin American, Japanese and Korean. Those individuals are lumped together in one group — which Statistics Canada calls “multiple visible minorities” — and are not broken down by the pairs or combinations of groups to which they belong.

Someone who checks off Black and Arab, for example, is included in that catch-all category, instead of being counted as part of Canada’s Black or Arab population. In contrast, people who identify as part of a visible minority group and the white population are counted, in most cases, as a member of whichever minority group they endorsed.

In the 2016 census, 232,275 people — or 2.7 per cent of the total visible minority population — were identified as multiple visible minorities.

That’s led some people, like Toronto lawyer Courtney Betty, to question whether the true number of people belonging to specific communities is being counted inaccurately.

“The whole idea of the census is to know how many individuals are within the population of our society, and potentially get a breakdown, so that we can do proper planning as to how we’re going to look at growth and also allocate economic resources,” Betty told the Star. “If you don’t have a proper count, that can’t happen.”

Betty is one of people leading the legal team representing hundreds of current and former Black public servants involved in a proposed class-action lawsuit, which alleges decades of discrimination and harassment within federal departments and agencies.

The multiple visible minorities category is being considered in the context of the lawsuit as part of an argument that the federal government won’t be able to claim that specific racialized communities, like the Black population, are adequately represented in the federal public service if it doesn’t have precise counts of those populations in the first place.

“I think there’s something that has to be adjusted, whether it be on the intake side … or on the analysis side,” Betty said. “Even if it’s a matter of …‘We recognize that there may be 50,000 Blacks that may not have been counted, and therefore, as we’re planning our policy decisions, we’re going to take that number into account.’”

Statistics Canada says it’s an issue the agency is actively studying.

“I know there’s an appetite to have more information,” said Hélène Maheux, a senior analyst with the agency’s diversity and socio-cultural statistics department. “Right now, we are looking at different alternatives, providing more disaggregated information for the multiple visible minority (category) for the 2021 census.”

Part of the problem is that counting a single individual as part of several populations muddies the data. There are also some who would prefer to be identified as a combination of groups instead of being counted as part of separate populations, the Star has previously reported.

But another reason, Maheux says, is that Statistics Canada’s database doesn’t actually allow for more detailed analysis of census data.

“It is not possible to distinguish all the various combinations of the visible minority groups included inside the multiple visible minorities. I had this challenge when I was doing this analysis. I wanted to include them, but it wasn’t possible because the database was not processed in a way that allowed me to make that distinction.”

When the Star asked Statistics Canada to provide, as one example, data on the number of Black people who were included in the multiple visible minority count, the department said the information was not “readily” available. The only way to obtain the data would be through the creation of a “custom tabulation,” which would need to go through a writing, testing and verification process.

Maheux said in the past, analysts have not typically received requests to dig into the category.

“But with the current context, we are receiving more requests. We are looking at avenues to improve our database,” she said.

It’s not just Statistics Canada that knows changes must be made.

On Tuesday, Ottawa launched a 13-member task force set to modernize the Employment Equity Act, which was first introduced in 1986, to improve “the state of equity, diversity and inclusion in federally regulated workplaces.”

Among the issues the task force will examine is whether visible minority groups should be updated, expanded or redefined.

Any changes would directly impact the way Canada’s census poses questions about race; the purpose of asking people to identify with certain population groups is tied to the act, which necessitates collecting information about visible minorities.

Liberal MP Greg Fergus said the work the task force is undertaking is critical to changing how Canada thinks about race. He hopes it will lead to a better snapshot of what’s really happening on the ground.

“For the Black community, it’s very clear that when Blacks are lumped into a visible minority, we actually end up becoming invisible,” Fergus told reporters following the announcement.

Adelle Blackett, a McGill University law professor who chairs the task force, said there have long been warning signs that the way racialized groups are categorized could lead to valuable data being lost.

She cited the 1984 Equality in Employment commission led by Judge Rosalie Abella, who wrote in her final report that combining “all non-whites together as visible minorities … may deflect attention from where the problems are greatest.”

The task force plans to conclude its review and present its recommendations to the federal labour minister in early 2022.

Source: Does Canada’s census undercount visible minorities?

Ethnic makeup of Buckingham Palace workforce not ‘what we would like,’ says senior source

Smaller gap than I would have guessed but perhaps London would be a better benchmark than the UK as a whole (40 percent ethnic minorities):

Buckingham Palace has for the first time released figures on the ethnic makeup of its staff, following the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s allegations of racism in the Royal Family.

The Royal Household said Thursday that 8.5 per cent of its staff come from ethnic minorities, compared with a target of 10 per cent by next year. The latest census data shows that ethnic minorities account for about 13 per cent of the U.K. population. The staffing figures were released as part of an annual report on royal finances.

A senior palace source said publishing the figures was an effort to ensure greater accountability because there would be “no place to hide” if diversity goals aren’t met. The source acknowledged that much more needed to be done.

Source: Ethnic makeup of Buckingham Palace workforce not ‘what we would like,’ says senior source

Rosie Abella said she’d answer questions when she turned 75

Good long interview by Paul Wells.

Money quote regarding her 1984 employment equity report:

What Abella knew was that she didn’t much like examples from American jurisprudence. “It was based on the individual. No concept of membership in groups as defining identity, as defining equality.” The more she thought about it, the more Abella decided that one concept of equality—simply treating everyone the same—constituted a dead-end path. “I thought, equality, to me, is not sameness. Civil liberties are sameness. Everyone should have the same right in their relationship with the state to be treated as well as the leaders. There is no such thing as ‘more rights,’ vis-à-vis the state, for one individual over another.

“But that’s different from human rights, where you are treated a certain way because of the groups you belong to. So if you are a woman, if you are a Muslim, if you are Jewish, if you are disabled, people treat you based on your identity. And so I thought, you can’t say, ‘Treat everyone the same.’ If you treat everyone the same, the person in a wheelchair is treated like the person who’s able-bodied, and there’s no need for a ramp, if you’re going to treat everybody the same.

“So it occurred to me that what equality really was, was acknowledging and accommodating differences. So people could be treated as an equal and not excluded arbitrarily for things that had nothing to do with whether or not they could contribute to the mainstream.”

This philosophy is encapsulated in a quote from the French poet Anatole France that opens Abella’s commission report, which she has cited frequently in her work since: “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets and to steal bread.” She would define a different law, less majestic and more alert to nuance. She coined a new term, “employment equity,” to describe “programs of positive remedy for discrimination in the Canadian workplace.”

The first surprise was when Flora MacDonald, Brian Mulroney’s employment minister, called Abella and said the Progressive Conservative government would implement the report’s recommendations. Another surprise came when countries around the world began to adapt elements of the report to their local circumstances.

Source: Rosie Abella said she’d answer questions when she turned 75