How to prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace

Some useful suggestions:

In a few weeks, the 2021 list of Canada’s Best Managed Companies will be announced—and that’s something to get excited about. These companies are the high-performance businesses that energize our economy, even in the toughest of times. We’re looking into their DNA and what makes them outstanding in their field, and it is clear that one of those factors is a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. This year, for example, 24 per cent of the new winners have a CEO that identifies as a member of a diverse group. But it goes beyond that.

Deloitte’s DE&I Special Advisor to the Best Managed Companies Program, Chinmaya Thakore, explains that, “as a first step, it is critical to understand what diversity, equity and inclusion does not mean—it’s not simply a matter of checking a box or filling a quota. This is about equitable sponsorship of everyone who has an aspiration to lead and progress. Therefore, a successful diversity, equity and inclusion strategy involves accepting and implementing it as a standard practice within the culture, training, policies, skills and every every aspect of running and building a successful business.”

To that end, here’s how some of these companies are prioritizing—and championing—diversity, equity and inclusion in their workspaces:

  • Ensuring that clients are able to be served in their language of choice—meaning hiring staff that speak more than 50 languages
  • Allowing and encouraging uniform modifications for religious purposes and celebrating holidays, festivals and traditions of all cultures
  • Keeping a close eye on the percentage of marginalized and other underrepresented areas in their business and continuously creating opportunities where there are gaps
  • Making an effort to go beyond stereotypical hiring and creating more opportunities for women in traditionally male-dominated roles
  • Going above and beyond traditional hiring by looking globally and providing immigration support, language-skills training and team-integration assistance
  • Committing to inclusion, equity and diversity beyond the workplace by donating to social justice organizations and encouraging employees to follow suit with a donation-matching program

“As leaders, we want our Best Managed companies to feel empowered to act, paving the way for businesses across Canada. If we want to prosper and succeed in these very disruptive times, we will need the full strength of the Canadian demographic and we will need to pivot from the old practices,” adds Thakore.

Though diversity, equity and inclusion is not the only solution to a well-managed company, it is a common success factor among companies on this year’s Best Managed list. The Best Managed community is a platform to strengthen the bonds between like-minded companies and nurture new relationships—driving Canada toward a more prosperous future.

Source: How to prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace

Seoul vows to eradicate discrimination against multicultural families

Of note:

The government will establish a legal basis to ban hate speech related to race, country or culture, in a bid to eradicate discrimination against multicultural families, according to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, Friday.

“Multicultural families in Korea are experiencing a serious level of discrimination and isolation in daily life,” Vice Minister of Gender Equality and Family Kim Kyung-sun said at a briefing held at the Seoul Government Complex.

“We plan to establish legal grounds to eliminate discrimination and social prejudice formed through hateful expressions related to race, country or culture, by making a revision to the Multicultural Family Support Act.”

The same day, the ministry, in cooperation with related authorities such as the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, announced a set of measures to build an inclusive society for biracial families.

The comprehensive measures are aimed at improving acceptance by guaranteeing people with multicultural background equal access to social activities and welfare services without blind spots.

A monitoring group will soon be launched to watch for discriminative expressions in publications and educational materials issued by central and local governments.

In order to resolve the educational gap and ensure equal education opportunities for multicultural children, consultation sessions and information on career development will be provided through the multicultural information platform Danuri.

The ministry also plans to distribute additional Korean language education programs so that multicultural children do not suffer from communication difficulties during remote classes.

Cha Yoon-gyung, former president of the Korean Association for Multicultural Education, welcomed the expanded supportive measures to multicultural students, while expressing concerns that state policies lack plans on how to educate Koreans on multiculturalism.

“The policies should be more focused on ways to improve Korean citizens’ perspective and understanding on multiculturalism in order to eliminate cultural-based discrimination,” Cha told The Korea Times.

“Providing civil servants and students at school with only several hours of education on cultural diversity will not raise their multicultural awareness. The government should give stronger messages on zero-tolerance towards discrimination by legislating an anti-discrimination law.”

The measures also include prohibiting international marriage ads that violate human rights of marriage migrants, as migrant women’s rights groups have been pointing out that the contents, aimed mostly at Korean men looking for brides from Southeast Asian countries, were found to contain discriminatory and misogynic expressions.

Starting next year, international marriage brokers will be banned from including the face, height and weight of the brides in the ads, and will take mandatory education programs on gender awareness and human rights, following the revision to the Act on Marriage Brokerage Agencies.

The government will increase job opportunities for marriage migrants using their bilingual talents by expanding the number of interpreters at multicultural family support centers, and will constantly provide them with job openings in local companies.

The comprehensive measures come as, despite the increasing number of multicultural families in the country, social acceptance towards them stays relatively low, according to data from the ministry.

As of last year, the number of multicultural household members reached 1.06 million, which accounts for 2.1 percent of the total population, and the number of multicultural births marked 17,939, or 5.9 percent of the total births.

Source: Seoul vows to eradicate discrimination against multicultural families

Diversity of Charity and Non-profit Boards: Statistics Canada Survey

This is a significant and needed survey that Senator Omidvar is championing with Statistics Canada, as she notes below:

I’ve been working closely with Statistics Canada and sector leaders on this important initiative and I am really excited that this will be the first-ever national snapshot of board diversity in the charitable sector. It’s crucial to collect and track this data in order for charities and non-profits to take an intentional approach towards increasing diversity on their boards so that they reflect the diversity of Canada.

Better data helps identify under-representation and opportunities to ensure that charities and non-profit organizations better reflect the communities they serve and I urge those of you on boards to take the time and submit the questionnaire.

A Message from Statistics Canada
The objective of this crowdsourcing initiative is to understand who serves on the boards of charity and non-profit organizations. In addition to collecting information about the diversity of board members, we explore topics such as what organizations do, who they serve, and where they are located. This information will help charities and non-profits better understand how their board compares to those of similar organizations.
Your participation is important: Your voice matters 
We want to hear from you, whether you sit on a board of directors or are involved in the governance of charities or non-profits. Please take a few minutes to complete the questionnaire and feel free to forward this email to your peers—the more people participate, the better the data.
Participating is easy and secure 
Click this link to participate:
This data collection is conducted under the authority of the Statistics Act, which ensures that the information you provide will be kept confidential, and used only for statistical and research purposes.
For general enquiries and technical assistance 
Contact us Monday to Friday (except holidays), from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (Eastern Time):1-877-949-9492 (TTY: 1-800-363-7629*)*If you use an operator-assisted relay service, you can call us during regular business hours. You do not need to authorize the operator to contact us.
For more information about the data collection visit:

Diversity isn’t a zero-sum game

Useful look at the linkages between official languages and employment equity, indicating little conflict between two complementary goals. Given that TBS now provides breakdowns by individual groups, further analysis of OL and diversity by group would be helpful given the differences between groups (see my 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).

Little new, however, on the various suggestions to further improve diversity:

Fostering Canada’s rich diversity continues to be a national priority, as emphasized in the latest speech from the throne. Yet, critics often view diversity as a zero-sum game. One recent argument insisted that promoting French-language diversity and racial diversity represents “deeply contradictory goals with little introspection,” claiming that French-language requirements discriminate against racialized people. This trade-off mentality is dangerous because it pits groups against each other. In reality, French-language diversity and racial diversity can thrive in tandem, and the federal workforce is a living example of that.

French-language diversity is increasing

French-language diversity in Canada has always faced challenges but it first gained legal representation in 1969 through the Official Languages Act. Today, its preservation is reinforced by the Liberal Party modelling bilingualism in its speeches and investing a record $2.7 billion over five years starting in 2018–2019 to make bilingualism more accessible to Canadians. Additionally, non-partisan government policies, such as the Directive on Official Languages for People Management,have promoted bilingualism in the federal workplace.

Such political and administrative dynamics have helped bolster the number of government positions requiring bilingualism or French-only from 40.1 per cent in 2017 to 45.1 per cent in 2019, according to the latest data from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. Interestingly, this same data set reveals a story of diversity complementarity rather than contradiction.

Racial diversity is also increasing

Two common ways of measuring diversity are (1) overall representation and (2) access to executive positions. For visible minorities (the government’s term for racialized people), both metrics have increased. Between 2017 and 2019, the number of government-employed visible minorities skyrocketed by 21.2 per cent, expanding their representation in the federal workforce from 15.1 per cent to 16.7 per cent (figure 1). Notably, Black representation increased the most, growing from 2.8 per cent to 3.2 per cent, and it did so without cannibalizing the representation of other visible minority groups (South Asian/East Indian, people of mixed origin, Chinese, and others).

Clearly, representation has improved but what about access to executive positions wielding power over decisions and resources? It has also improved. Between 2017 and 2019, the number of visible minority executives increased by 20.8 per cent, elevating their share of total executive positions from 10.2 per cent to 11.1 per cent. Again, there wasn’t any cannibalization across visible minority groups. However, this gain has been outpaced by the growth in visible minorities’ overall representation. What this means more broadly is that the pipeline of diverse candidates to fill the nation’s top bureaucratic positions has expanded quickly. Yet, more efforts to train, promote and retain these staff are required to ensure that senior leadership is more racially representative.

Promoting diversity can be inclusive

This complementary diversity is even clearer when French-language and racial data are combined. Since 2017, the federal government has added roughly 8,900 positions that require bilingualism or French-only speakers. Visible minorities have filled a whopping 28 per cent of these positions (which is almost double the percentage of working-age visible minorities in Canada who can speak French). This, in large part, is a result of greater access to language training and new initiatives to achieve departmental racial diversity goals. Simply put, visible minorities are fully capable of promoting the French language if they’re equipped with the proper resources.

Interestingly, these encouraging trends haven’t threatened many other diversity groups. For example, women’s representation and the share of Indigenous executives have both increased over the same period. This may be due to workers having intersectional identities. However, the myriad of diversity personified by top cabinet ministers signals the priority to reflect Canada’s true diversity in the government. Equally, the bureaucracy’s increasing emphasis on diversity since 2016 – through new studies, task forces, departmental diversity and inclusion councils, executive leadership development programs, and the like – has expanded diversity across multiple fronts.

A path forward for French-language diversity

French-language diversity and racial diversity in the Canadian government are increasing but more must be done to reflect Canada’s true diversity. To increase French-language diversity, the government should prioritize improving the quality of language training. Currently, departments use third-party language-training suppliers, which often entails high costs, as noted by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. This decentralization across departments translates into a lack of standardization, inhibiting a high and consistent quality of education, and limited coordination, preventing departments from pooling resources and sharing best practices to teach French.

Instead, the government should offer more virtual group language lessons, workshops and resources through the Canada School of Public Service (the government’s central employee training hub). In-housing more teaching ensures greater quality control, broadens accessibility to more staff and saves on training costs in the long run. To help employees master French, the government should create short and immersive language-exchange programs – across departments and with international agencies – so that staff can work in a different official-language setting. These micro-assignments can include a language-mentoring component, which has also been suggested by the Privy Council Office. In turn, departments would benefit from these staff subsequently spurring more ideas, best practices and collaborations across departments and institutions.

A path forward for racial diversity

To increase racial representation, the government should invest in targeted recruiting programs. As the federal Joint Union/Management Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion suggests, recruiting racialized students has historically been challenging. Programs like the Indigenous Student Employment Opportunity and the Federal Internship Program for Canadians with Disabilitieselevate the importance of specific groups; a similar resource-backed program for racialized people would highlight them in recruitment. Another way to build the diversity pipeline is through sponsorship programs. In the United States, the Charles B. Rangel Graduate Fellowship Program(funded by the federal government) helps historically underrepresented U.S. minorities fund their graduate program, pairs them with mentors and places them in a full-time position at the U.S. State Department. This end-to-end program incubates talent from the start and fosters their long-term success with resources.

To boost racialized employees’ access to executive positions, the government should formalize a career mentorship program available across all departments. This government-wide approach would enable more standardization (while allowing for some departmental customization) and best-practice sharing. Additionally, departments should consider a reverse-mentorship program, whereby junior racialized staff act as mentors to senior non-racialized executives. Research and the United Kingdom Civil Service’s first-hand experiences reveal that such a program elevates a group’s visibility, unlocks more trust between groups and ultimately increases retention. These interactions also create a non-hierarchical feedback loop that enables executives to better understand lived realities and how the organizational culture interacts with those realities. Thus, they can more effectively address diversity and inclusion barriers.

Whether it’s targeted recruiting or mentorship programs, what’s crucial is that these initiatives be incremental to existing efforts and not cannibalize them. Additionally, accountability is integral to their success. For instance, this could mean factoring into executive evaluation and compensation how an organization performs based on its original diversity goals.

Diversity is just one piece of the journey

Canada’s commitments to cherish its French-language diversity and racial diversity deserve some praise. The federal workforce proves how these two can be complementary rather than a zero-sum trade-off. However, the Canadian government can’t rely on this positive trajectory because it’s far from being truly diverse and inclusive. That’s why it should standardize more official language teaching and bring it in-house, promote official language-exchange programs, invest in targeted recruiting for racialized people and institutionalize mentorship programs.

Beyond diversity, workplace inclusion equally needs attention. For example, the 2019 Public Service Employee Survey results show that visible minorities in the government are nearly twice as likely as non-visible minorities to report experiencing discrimination. This can negatively impact an individual’s sense of belonging, trust in a department, willingness to fully contribute at work and even retention.

Be it diversity challenges or inclusion challenges, resolving both is critical to reducing workplace inequities and socioeconomic disparities. Doing so is a necessary step to making diversity, inclusion and equity a reality in the Canadian government.

Source: Diversity isn’t a zero-sum game

OECD Report: All Hands In? Making Diversity Work for All

This report has some very useful comparative charts that I will draw from in the future. This takeaway is a useful reminder of the differences between and among groups:

Existing frameworks must better differentiate the needs of diverse groups

Despite the variety of instruments in place, whether diversity policies actually work in practice and why is still under-researched. This is partly due to few countries evaluating or monitoring the impact of existing policies. Yet, understanding “what works” for which groups and why is crucial. Evidence suggests that existing diversity measures often disregard the considerable heterogeneity both between and within groups and consequently have unequal effects on diverse populations. For example, evidence shows that affirmative action programmes in the United States have benefitted white women more than ethnic minorities. Quota regulations, which have proven effective in getting more women in corporate boards, can be counterproductive when applied to other groups, such as people with disabilities. Such findings demonstrate that there are group-specific barriers, which cannot be addressed through “one-size-fits-all” diversity policies.

Crucially, most existing diversity policies tend to neglect socio-economic disadvantage. Studies on access to higher education suggest that diversity policies primarily benefit the most privileged within an ethnic minority group, e.g. those from families with relatively high incomes or high levels of education. While the principle of equal opportunities should apply to people of any socio-economic background and status, policies fail to help the most disadvantaged within minority groups will not end injustice. Finally, policy makers have to face the danger that disadvantaged individuals who do not happen to fall into the category of any particular “diverse group” may feel left out and discriminated against. Diversity policies, therefore, can only be one part of a broader package of policies to promote equal opportunities among all members of society.

page21image1385687056 page21image1385687344 page21image1385687840 page21image1385688032 page21image1385688320 page21image1385688896

Note: The chart compares differences in employment rates of men and women; native-born and foreign-born; and prime-age (25-54) and older workers (55-64). Disability status is defined as self-perceived, long-standing activity limitations. Employment gaps and perceived attitudes are shown as colour-coded percentiles. Evolution over 10 years (2008 and 2018 for attitudes; 2006/07 and 2016/17 for labour market gaps): “red”: more than a 2 percentage points change to the favour of diverse groups, “yellow” between a +2 percentage points change and a -2 percentage points change, “red“: more than a 2 percentage points change to the detriment of diverse groups (regardless of statistical significance). The evolution refers to differences vis-à-vis the respective comparison group and not absolute values. “Grey”: data are not available.

Source: OECD Gender Portal; OECD/EU Settling In: Indicators of Immigrant Integration 2018; OECD Employment Outlook 2018; OECD Connecting People with Jobs 2014; World Gallup Poll.


How to find the right words for your next chat about diversity

Some useful insights that all can benefit from, including the point regarding grace and forgiveness (to which I would add humility):

In these polarized times, we need conversations that span differences within our organizations, building trust and uncovering solutions. But fear and grievances from past injustices get in the way.

In her work as a diversity and inclusion consultant, Mary-Frances Winters sees people struggling to find the right words for such chats. “It’s not that most people do not want to engage in inclusive conversations; they do not know how. They do not know what to say so as not to offend or be accused of insensitivity or worse,” she writes in her just-published book, Inclusive Conversations.

She divides those in an office into two sets: Those who have historically found themselves in dominant power (even if they never saw it that way) and those who have traditionally been subordinated and marginalized because of their identity – race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation or some other dimension of difference. We don’t normally view the organization in those terms; we’re all supposed to be on the same team. But it’s a vital description to keep in mind if you want to bridge differences.

Many people who have long been part of the dominant group fear that a slip of the tongue – one wrong word – might lead to a verbal attack or worse by colleagues and superiors. And while those in power have for a long time promised an equitable and inclusive working environment, many in the same workplace still feel excluded.

It therefore takes more than good intentions and a desire for equity to bridge those divisions. Indeed, Winters lists eight conditions necessary to allow inclusive conversations to occur: Commitment; cultural competence; brave and psychologically safe spaces; an understanding of equity and power; the ability to address fear and fragility; grace and forgiveness; trust and empathy; and belonging and inclusion.

Don’t slide by commitment too quickly. Many leaders would argue they have always had a commitment to equity, but in her 35 years as a consultant, Winters doesn’t feel we have fundamentally changed the structures and systems that either maintain or worsen the conditions for historically subordinated groups. Think through how dedicated you truly are to changing things and where that desire stems from. As well, think of how you can improve your own knowledge and understanding of the differences in culture within your workplace, so that you can be competent enough to help make change.

It’s routine to talk about the need for psychologically safe spaces for touchy conversations, but the consultant says we need to move beyond that to create brave zones, where deep truths can be expressed without fear of retribution. She argues that for dominant groups discussing race, “safety” means, “You will not make me feel uncomfortable.” But for those who have historically been marginalized, “safety” often means, “I can make you feel uncomfortable (even if that is not my intention) and you will listen without defensiveness, dismissiveness, and ‘whitesplaining,’” which Winters defines as a situation in which a white person explains to a Black person the true nature of racism. So expect in these brave spaces that there may be discomfort and discord, but everyone will feel safe enough to be brave.

Winters asks you to distinguish between equity and equality. Equality means treating everyone the same way. Equity is treating people according to what they need and deserve. That assumes some groups have historically been denied what they need due to entrenched inequitable systems. How do you achieve equity given that situation? She warns that attaining equity will involve conversations about power – not a normal or easy topic in the office.

You will also need to face up to the fear and fragility that exists these days. “Many people are afraid of talking about diversity and inclusion topics for fear they might get it wrong and not be forgiven. Acknowledging these fears is an all-important step in engaging in inclusive conversations,” the consultant says.

She urges you to literally talk to yourselves about these issues – in quiet contemplation but also out loud – as part of the self-understanding needed to then talk with others. The idea is for you in your reflection to bring unconscious thoughts into the foreground, where they can be challenged. Where are you clinging to behaviours that are inequitable?

Winters also warns that race is a dynamic in all cross-race conversations. If you are white, you need to realize the Black person you speak to is aware of that dynamic, even if they might not admit it. So if you are white, reflect: What role does my whiteness play in the conversation? How might someone with a different identity might feel?

Inclusive conversations are a beguiling concept, but they are highly challenging for managers. They require moving beyond traditional power dynamics in the office that many managers have taken for granted and benefited from. But if you aim for inclusion, such conversations are now something more you need to learn. And as with all learning, that will involve periods of incompetence before it becomes more natural. You’ll only learn by trying.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

File typically considered a junior minister

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What we mean when we talk about inclusion: Sarmishta Subramanian

 from Six Degrees on inclusion. Overall I found it too rambling and unfocussed, with relatively few concrete suggestions on how to improved dialogue and conversation regarding integration and inclusion issues.

While there is value in this kind of high level discourse, there is a greater need for more practical and pragmatic approaches that help different actors address some of the issues:

…There is a principle at stake, of not allowing debates about inclusion to happen in an exclusionary way. The new vogue in the West is for a modulation of the conversation by suppression, a desire for the silencing of not merely hateful opinion, but divergent perspectives of many kinds. The argument made is that certain conversations must stop for other, more productive ones to occur; and anyway, it is impossible to silence the powerful majority. A broader streak of illiberalism is in evidence here, and it’s difficult to see how a modern, inclusive society benefits from it. Does the suppression of some views not logically encompass the potential suppression of any or all views? Can a free society support the kinds of intolerance—including an intolerance of religion—that have become commonplace in modern progressive thought? Freedom of thought and speech are deliberately blind to content; making the freedom contingent on which thought or words defeats the point.

In this mode of thinking, it is not only racism or prejudice that is shut down, but also many other voices, including progressive ones—people broadly aligned with the underlying values who may not speak precisely the same coded language. This is all the more poignant given that these political or social constraints on speech have no effect at all on those fully committed to illiberalism and to the free expression of ideas of xenophobia, racial superiority, sexism, and social injustice. We continue to hear those voices, but less so others in the middle who share the fundamental values of egalitarianism, tolerance, pluralism.

There is also a pragmatic argument to be made. The support of the majority is surely vital to the long-term health of minority rights. Even successful movements that have risen up from the grassroots have found support among the majority, or from cultural or political elites. And while it may be impossible to silence the majority, it is certainly possible for a majority to feel silenced, which is a political obstacle as well as a moral and social one.

The problems of a mildly uncomfortable majority are, of course, not the concern of activists demanding the most basic forms of inclusion for black Americans, or Indigenous Canadians, or any other historically disadvantaged group. Nor should they be. Discomfort pales before real economic and social injustice, and in any case the work of activists has generally been to throw rhetorical grenades, to build pressure in the system, to remind everyone that these debates have stakes, and to shift the conversation from the edges. This is important work.

Yet it is also a fact that a position of discomfort is not one from which people will act with the greatest generosity or fairness. The frustration of activists is understandable; they don’t want to negotiate with people who refuse to “get it.” This cannot then be left entirely to the activists. Responses have to come from other places, too—from minorities who are not too exhausted to talk about it, and from reasonable members of the majority who don’t default to one of a few modes currently available in the popular discourse, which include angry reactionary; sanctimonious, slightly self-loathing recovering white person; and silent observer. They have to come from the middle, and be heard by the middle, which means they may have to come outside the polarized zones of social media.

* * *

Countries such as Canada and Australia have staked a lot in the idea of achieving inclusion by recognizing, and accommodating, difference. That mode of thinking has migrated from courts and parliament houses out into the public arena. In the public discourse, the challenge is in how citizens can achieve that recognition of particularity, and answer its demands, while still achieving a recognition of the universal—respect for all groups, and people. We could do worse than to consider the advice of the American philosopher Martha Nussbaum, who has written about the value of applying the literary imagination in a judicial context. Adopting the posture of “concerned reader of a novel,” she writes, allows a jurist to be merciful. For the lay person too, there is much to be said for viewing the world this way, to approach our disparate fellow humans with genuine curiosity and sympathy, with a desire to understand “the entire complex history of their efforts.” Taking in the lives of others, and their whole stories, would allow everyone to be more compassionate, and like Nussbaum’s reader, to participate, and observe, to expand what we see.

In the end inclusion depends in part on perceptions—of fairness, of equity—which vary depending on the person doing the seeing. In fact, questions of perception lie at the very heart of the question. Inclusion, after all, is not merely about literal rules—legalizing gay marriage or mandating equal access to services. Those rules leave too much room for exclusion. Rather, this is more fundamentally about how we see our place in the world, about our ability to imagine and achieve a good life in every area that is meaningful to us. The capacity of all citizens to have this, in turn, allows a society to flourish.

Inclusion has been described as a “mutually beneficial state for both the community and the individual.” Much rides on that “mutually beneficial.” Discussions of inclusion and exclusion, which often bring into clear view the failures of governments. But what we owe each other is not only a question for governments to answer but also a question for individuals to untangle: what our responsibilities are as citizens, what our obligations are to those different from us, and what we owe to our communities—each of us, and all of us.

via What we mean when we talk about inclusion –

Pluralism is a path to lasting peace and prosperity: Outgoing Governor General Johnston

Well stated:

A predecessor, Vincent Massey, once said: “Canada is not a melting pot. Canada is an association of peoples who have, and cherish, great differences but who work together because they can respect themselves and each other.” Today we call this pluralism, and I believe Canada’s opportunity lies in its ability to show the world how pluralism is a viable path to lasting peace and prosperity. Canada is a social innovation, a constantly evolving work-in-progress based upon the notion that diverse peoples can live and work together toward an ever-more inclusive, fair and just society.

Of course, we have no cause for complacency. Intolerance does exist here and it is essential that we resist efforts to reduce diversity and restrict inclusiveness. Canada’s progress as a country has always grown from a commitment to diversity, inclusiveness and pluralism. Success in such a vast, diverse and challenging land requires that we work together. This is the story of our country and it’s important that we know and understand its uniqueness, significance and how embedded the principles of partnership and compromise are in the very fabric of Canada. This is the path forward.

There are two related, critical elements that Canada should pay close attention to in the years to come: learning and trust. As a lifelong student and teacher, I believe education is the key to ensuring equality of opportunity for all Canadians and to achieving the pinnacles of excellence that allow us to innovate and lead in a technologically advanced world. From early-childhood education and literacy to reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples to research at the outer limits of knowledge, we must make learning a central part of our lives. Doing so will reinforce the second critical element – trust – by which I mean trust in one another and in the institutions which are the glue that binds Canadians together. Inequalities and the rapid changes brought about by globalization have undermined trust in Canada and throughout much of the world, but a society that learns and works together in an inclusive manner will see the basis for that sense of mistrust replaced by a sense of hope.

So, what have I learned as Governor-General? One, while Canada still has much work to do in building a more inclusive society, our diversity is a strength and a comparative advantage in the world. Two, in Canada, past, present and no doubt future, we’re stronger and more prosperous when we compromise and work together. And three, despite our many cultures, ethnic origins and languages spoken, we all have a great deal in common – a great deal called Canada. Let this be a country that draws on the diverse talents and abilities of all its peoples in steering a course through this complex, changing world.

Source: Pluralism is a path to lasting peace and prosperity – The Globe and Mail

Lady Gaga’s Super Gay Super Bowl Halftime Show Came When We Needed It Most – The Daily Beast

While the overall view appears to be that Lady Gaga played it safe, her goals were less so:

It was actually rather inspiring to listen to Lady Gaga talk about the goals she had for the performance at a press conference last week.

“Music is one of the most powerful things the world has to offer. No matter what race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or gender that you are, it has the power to unite us, so this performance is for everyone. I want to, more than anything, create a moment that everybody who’s watching will never forget—not for me, but for themselves,” she said.

This whole political statement debate? “The only statements I’ll be making during the halftime show are the ones that I have been consistently making throughout my career,” she said. “I believe in a passion for inclusion, I believe in the spirit of equality, and [I believe] the spirit of this country is one of love and compassion and kindness, so my performance will uphold those philosophies.”

It’s one thing to hear that, and another to watch it unfold over the course of 13 minutes on TV, fatigued from another week of horrifying headlines and cultural frustration that’s long passed its boiling point. Who knew how much we’d need Lady Gaga right now?

“Essentially, that kid that couldn’t get a seat at the cool kids table and that kid who was kicked out of the house because his mom and dad didn’t accept him for who he was? That kid is going to have the stage for 13 minutes,” she said. “And I’m excited to give it to them.”

And we needed to receive it.

Source: Lady Gaga’s Super Gay Super Bowl Halftime Show Came When We Needed It Most – The Daily Beast

CBC did a nice round-up of the messages of the ads, largely explicitly or subtly in favour of diversity and inclusion:

It’s rare that you want to watch the commercials. Normally you want to change channels, go get a snack or fast forward through them — except during the Super Bowl.

For Americans, commercials have long been part of the attraction. And this year — finally — Canadians got to take part in the fun, thanks to a CRTC decision.

Every year, more than 30 advertisers spend roughly $5 million US and aim to create the most memorable 30 to 90 seconds by stuffing commercials with celebrities, slapstick humour, cute animals or children.

This year’s crop of ads filled all the categories, but several nodded to the political climate since Donald Trump became president.

The messages

Shortly before kickoff, Coca-Cola’s replayed an ad originally from 2014, which featured America the Beautiful sung in eight different languages. The commercial seems to be a reaction to increased racial tensions in the U.S. New or not, this commercial struck a nice tone.

The most obviously political ad was from 84 Lumber, which had an earlier version rejected for being too controversial. The commercial features the journey of a woman and her daughter travelling through Mexico. The ad directs viewers online to see the conclusion.

At the end of the six-minute piece, you see the characters arrive at a towering wall and appearing defeated until they discover a gate in the wall. The ad ends with the words, “The will to succeed is always welcome here.”

The commercial is clearly in opposition to Trump’s plan to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

 The hits, misses and messages of the Super Bowl commercials