Woman outraged CIBC job application suggests traditional regalia for video cover letter

Interesting case. CIBC engaged an Indigenous consultant, who in turn consulted other Indigenous community leaders and experts, in order to encourage Indigenous recruitment and recognize Indigenous identities.

So clear intent to be inclusive but can understand why the “regalia” reference in particular provoked Paquette’s response.

Would have been interesting, of course, to know the reactions of other applicants:

Christine Paquette was scrolling through an online job site when she came across a posting looking to recruit Indigenous people for customer service jobs at CIBC.

The 21-year-old Ojibway and Métis woman works as a part-time receptionist at an esthetics salon and was hoping to find a second job, one that could lead to a possible career.

“It seemed kind of like a good way to get my foot in the door,” Paquette said in an interview with Go Public from her home in Winnipeg.

Her fluent French and work experience made Paquette think that a banking job could be a good fit for her — until she started going through the questions in the online application.

“It said along the lines, ‘Please explain, like, your favourite tradition or your favourite story,'” Paquette said. “I was like, ‘Huh, that’s a little odd thing to be asking.’ … How is a traditional story going to help me excel in, like, the role of a bank teller?”

Paquette continued with the application, even though that question didn’t sit well with her. But she didn’t get very far after that.

“That was, like, the appetizer,” she explained.

The questions continued: “How would you describe your communication skills? TIP: Why don’t you show us instead?” the application read.

It went on to encourage Indigenous applicants to let their personality shine in a video cover letter and “to write a song, poem, dress in traditional regalia or bring in back-up dancers!” as part of the video submission.

“I was like, OK, that’s enough, that’s all I need to see,” Paquette said.

“I want you to prove to me how Indigenous you are,” she said. “That’s how I took it.”

Like many businesses across Canada, CIBC told Go Public that it is committed to taking steps to ensure its workforce reflects the communities where its employees live and work. But experts in the field of Indigenous recruitment strategy say the bank’s job application — and Christine’s experience — is a good opportunity for companies to learn better practices when pursuing diverse workplaces.

The sacredness of regalia

Paquette says that the question asking her to share her “favourite Indigenous tradition/story” brought up a wide range of emotions.

She says her grandmother went to a residential day school and was made to be ashamed of her heritage, so she didn’t pass down any traditions to her daughter, Christine’s mother — who in turn couldn’t teach Christine.

“How are you going to go on and ask me to share my favourite story or tradition when … settlers and, like, residential schools taught us that it’s not OK?” Paquette said. “To be asking Indigenous people to share their favourite story or their favourite part of their culture that they don’t even have access to anymore is really insensitive.”

Paquette also thought it wasn’t appropriate for CIBC to suggest that she dress in traditional clothing as part of the application.

Go Public showed the CIBC application to experts in Indigenous recruitment work.

Patricia Baxter is a member of Sheguiandah First Nation and a board member with Indigenous Works, a non-profit organization that promotes inclusion and engagement of Indigenous people in Canadian workplaces. The group consults with a wide variety of companies across the country, including McDonald’s, Bell Canada and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Baxter says that for a professional position within a financial institution, she doesn’t see the purpose of the question.

“What many Canadians don’t realize is that regalia isn’t just traditional clothing,” she said. “It’s a right to wear that clothing, and it’s a responsibility on how you use that clothing…. It’s very sacred and it’s attached to ceremony. So it’s not something you just put on.”

CIBC consults Indigenous group

Paquette says she was so upset by the questions that she decided to post her concerns to CIBC on Twitter.

She says she was surprised by the response. The bank said it has been working with a not-for-profit Indigenous organization, Our Children’s Medicine (OCM), and that the questions that offended Paquette had actually been designed in consultation with Indigenous community leaders and elders.

“The purpose of these questions is to help remove barriers that may exist as part of a traditional job application process by showcasing transferrable skills and potential, while giving Indigenous candidates the opportunity to share stories that are important to them,” CIBC said in a Twitter response to Paquette.

“We encourage candidates to simply say ‘prefer not to answer’ if they … don’t feel comfortable with any specific questions.”

After Paquette shared her thoughts on social media, the regalia reference was removed from the CIBC application.

Go Public contacted the bank to ask more about the thought process behind the questions.

“At CIBC we are committed to taking steps to ensure our workforce reflects the communities where we live and work and to removing barriers that may exist through traditional job application processes,” Trish Tervit, CIBC’S director of public affairs, wrote in an emailed statement.

Tervit said CIBC’s relationship with OCM has been instrumental in creating relationships with First Nations, Métis and Inuit job-seekers and that the bank has hired more than 70 Indigenous people through its Indigenous recruitment program.

What CIBC didn’t say is that OCM wrote the questions on the application.

Go Public contacted OCM. In a statement, the organization confirmed that the questions were created “in consultation with Indigenous elders, knowledge keepers and other members of the community.”

The statement, sent to Go Public from one of the group’s managers, Kelly Hashemi, said that OCM’s application process “is crafted to allow hiring managers to identify lived, cultural and transferable skills which get lost during a traditional ‘corporate’ application and interview process.”

OCM said it’s a registered charity in Toronto that works with employers to “implement our hiring process at their companies and create action plans to learn from, engage with and attract talent from the Indigenous community.”

‘A learning experience’

An expert who spoke to Go Public says the situation is an opportunity for all businesses in Canada — not just non-Indigenous groups — to learn something and to recognize that any organization can make a mistake.

“Just because you’re an Indigenous person, Indigenous organization or Indigenous company doesn’t mean you’ve got some magical perspective on everything,” said Kelly Lendsay, who is Cree and Métis, and president and CEO of Indigenous Works, based in Saskatoon.

Lendsay says recruiters should ask open-ended questions, such as, “Tell me something you’re proud of,” and then leave it up to applicants to bring up stories about their culture or experience if they choose.

“Someone might say, you know, ‘I’m really proud of the fact that I chair the food bank,'” Lendsay said. “Another person says, ‘I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve reconnected with my culture to learn powwow dancing. I’m a fancy dancer.'”

While he commends the efforts of CIBC and OCM to help Indigenous people enter the banking sector, Lendsay says there’s room to grow.

“They’re obviously making good efforts here. But we have to listen to this, to Christine, and take that feedback and make the changes,” Lendsay said. “We don’t want employers to be turned off by … these stories. Let’s use it as a learning experience.”

Strategy in action

More than a decade ago, Calgary-based organization ECO Canada consulted with Indigenous Works — then called the Aboriginal Human Resource Council — to create a concrete strategy to break down barriers faced by Indigenous people looking to enter the workforce, particularly in the environmental sector.

The organization launched a weeks-long program called BEAHR, available to Indigenous community members looking to learn new skills in order to boost their chances of finding employment in that field. More than 4,000 participants from over 250 Indigenous communities across Canada have graduated from the program since its inception, and it’s caught the attention of employers across the country looking to develop their own recruitment policies.

“It’s a very complex issue, and it’s an issue where cultural sensitivity is very important,” said Yogendra Chaudhry, ECO Canada’s vice-president of professional services. When it comes to job applications, Chaudhry says, the process should have a consistent set of questions for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups.

“If you design two separate sets of questions … then you’re not looking at the inclusion part,” he said. “You’re still working with two separate systems and then trying to integrate the workers.”

Chaudhry says his organization is focused on creating meaningful and long-term employment, rather than looking at plans to create a diverse workplace as one-off opportunities or PR strategies.

As for Paquette, she says she supports the idea of companies, like CIBC, investing in diversifying their workforce. But she says the only questions related to an applicant’s Indigeneity should be whether the person identifies as First Nations, Métis or Inuit. The rest, she says, should be left out of the hiring equation.

“I think it’s great to encourage Indigenous people to show off their culture and be who they are,” Paquette said.  “But to … ask them to do it just for you to land an interview, I don’t think that was appropriate at all.”

Source: Woman outraged CIBC job application suggests traditional regalia for video cover letter

RCMP looks to redraft its entrance exam as it pushes for a more diverse police service

Of note. An appropriate review to assess the validity of criteria and the impact on recruitment. My earlier tweet generated some negative commentary from former RCMP members:

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is looking to scrub its entrance exam of cultural biases and “outdated criteria” as it tries to confront what’s been called its “toxic culture” and the problem of systemic racism in the ranks.

The RCMP posted a tender this week looking for a contractor to provide pre-screening exams for applicants. It’s part of the RCMP’s modernization plan, known as Vision 150, which also includes changes to the criteria for becoming an RCMP officer.

“A thorough review of these processes has determined that despite significant changes made to the processes and tools over the past decade, systemic challenges remain,” says the tender.

“Most notably, a gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) review of the current RCMP exams concluded that even when prospective applicants possess both the interest and qualifications, there is evidence that the exams themselves may create barriers to a diverse applicant pool. Outdated criteria, lacking strong supporting evidence, may result in high-potential candidates being unable, or unwilling, to apply.”

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki has been signalling that changes are coming to the recruitment process. She told a House of Commons committee late last year that the force needs to better reflect the communities it serves.

“We’re looking at our organization as a whole, and we’re looking at those systems and those processes, those policies and procedures that will eliminate systemic racism,” she said in November.

“We are going to be testing for those types of behaviours that could negatively impact their interactions.”

RCMP faces a decline in applicants

The move to redraft the exam comes as the RCMP struggles with a staffing crunch — particularly when it comes to attracting candidates of colour.

As of April 1, 2020 (the most recent period for which statistics are available), just under 12 per cent of the RCMP’s 20,000 rank-and-file members identified as visible minority, according to figures posted online late last week. That figure hasn’t changed dramatically over the past few years and remained lower than the general rate in the workforce nationwide.

Source: RCMP looks to redraft its entrance exam as it pushes for a more diverse police service

Audit of Employment Equity Representation in Recruitment

PDF Version

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main findings

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

Our audit results showed that:

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

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

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

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

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

Laïcité: le Manitoba veut recruter des employés du secteur public québécois

Not surprising. Premier Pallister has been the most outspoken premier against Bill 21:

Le gouvernement du Manitoba veut recruter des employés du secteur public québécois préoccupés par la Loi sur la laïcité de l’État, qui interdit les signes religieux dans l’exercice de certaines fonctions.

Alors même que la Cour supérieure du Québec rejetait, jeudi, la requête de groupes de défense des libertés civiles et religieuses, qui réclamaient la suspension de la loi, le premier ministre Brian Pallister indiquait que le Manitoba avait besoin de fonctionnaires bilingues.

M. Pallister a promis de s’adresser aux employés de l’État québécois pour les assurer que sa province n’avait pas, elle, de « police du vêtement ». Il a indiqué que des lettres seraient bientôt envoyées aux associations professionnelles du Québec ainsi qu’aux cégeps et autres institutions d’enseignement afin de recruter des Québécois.

La Loi sur la laïcité de l’État, adoptée en juin à l’Assemblée nationale, interdit aux employés de l’État en position d’autorité coercitive, comme les juges, les policiers et les gardiens de prison, de porter des signes religieux dans l’exercice de leurs fonctions ; cette interdiction s’étend aussi aux enseignants du réseau public. Les opposants à la loi affirment qu’elle cible injustement les musulmanes, les sikhs et les autres minorités religieuses.

Le premier ministre Pallister, qui cherche à se faire réélire au Manitoba le 10 septembre, avait déjà affirmé son opposition à la loi québécoise lors de la rencontre estivale des premiers ministres des provinces et territoires, le 11 juillet. Le premier ministre François Legault a rappelé au Conseil de la fédération que la loi est appuyée par une majorité de Québécois et que son parti respectait une promesse électorale.

Jeudi, le juge Michel Yergeau, de la Cour supérieure du Québec, a déclaré que la loi continuerait de s’appliquer jusqu’à ce qu’un tribunal se prononce sur le fond de l’affaire.

En avril, le maire d’Edmundston, Cyrille Simard, invitait dans sa municipalité du nord-ouest du Nouveau-Brunswick les Québécois « qui pourraient rencontrer des obstacles » dans certaines catégories d’emplois. Alex LeBlanc, directeur général du Conseil multiculturel du Nouveau-Brunswick, rappelait alors que le Nouveau-Brunswick vivait notamment une pénurie d’enseignants francophones et bilingues qualifiés, et que de nombreux Québécois pourraient pourvoir ces postes.

Source: Laïcité: le Manitoba veut recruter des employés du secteur public québécois

In Quebec’s secularism law, an Ontario police force sees a source of recruits

Reminds me of Ontario hospitals doing the same thing during the 2013 PQ charter of values debates:

An Ontario police force will launch a recruiting campaign targeting Quebec residents affected by the province’s new law on religious symbols.

The Peel Regional Police, which covers territory including the cities of Mississauga and Brampton, will conduct a campaign in Quebec after a motion was passed unanimously by the region’s police services board on Friday.

The police force “believes in the values of diversity and inclusion, including the accommodation of religious symbols,” the motion states. It goes on to say that the police board “invites all affected individuals either pursuing or training for a career in policing in Quebec to apply for a career with the Peel Regional Police.”

The motion calls for the police force to place advertising “within Quebec.”

Quebec’s religious symbols law, which was passed last Sunday, will bar public school teachers, government lawyers, judges and police officers from wearing religious symbols while at work.

The Peel Regional Police have just over 2,000 uniformed officers and 800 civilian staff, said Constable Danny Marttini, a spokesperson for the force. They hire approximately 100 new recruits every year, she said.

The police board motion was seconded by Patrick Brown, Brampton’s mayor and the former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, who declared his opposition to Quebec’s law in a statement released Friday.

“We need to send a strong message to proponents of [the secularism law] in Quebec,” the statement says. “This law is an affront to freedom of religion and an infringement of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

Brown has also introduced a similar motion with Brampton’s city council for recruiting for the city’s fire and emergency service.

Another motion calls for the city to join a legal challenge to Quebec’s law initiated by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

In his motion advocating for Brampton to join the legal challenge, Brown writes that the city “is ground zero for diversity and Canadian multiculturalism, and [Brampton’s] Council bears a responsibility to stand up in defence of the Canadian multicultural mosaic.”

Those motions will be considered at a council meeting on June 26.

Brown’s statement says the law on religious symbols will prohibit Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and others who wear religious symbols from pursuing careers in many public sector jobs.

The Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec thanked the Peel police force for its action.

“Thanks to the Peel Regional Police for applying the values of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” the organization said on Facebook.

Source: In Quebec’s secularism law, an Ontario police force sees a source of recruits

Stereotypes hurting millennials’ chances of finding work in the public service, says report

Interesting report with reasonably practical recommendations. Government context requires innovation has to be balanced with accountability and stewardship, not to mention the political/PS interface which the recommendations largely acknowledge:

One of the most significant issues with the public sector’s “millennial problem” is the perception that young people don’t want to work in government, according to the report. In fact, says Deloitte, a consulting firm, the public service is attractive to those born between 1980 to 1995: there’s job stability and an opportunity for a work-life balance.

“Research instead shows that, as a whole, millennials want the same things and value the same things as other generations. Where they differ is in the ways they go about achieving their goals,” the report says.

Retaining millennials is also not a problem for the public service. The report found that from 2007-2014, the number of millennials leaving stayed consistently low. People aged 35 and younger were actually more likely to stay in the federal government than leave, according to the numbers.

That’s if, however, they can get hired.

Since the 2008 recession, the government’s Deficit Reduction Action Plan has lowered the number of people hired overall. “The number of external jobs posted in 2008 was about 5,000, but that number dropped to around 2,700 in 2016,” the report said.

Only about 3.5 per cent of applicants were hired during the Recruitment of Policy Leaders initiative which focuses on hiring young top talent into mid and senior level policy roles. In 2016, those who applied through the government’s post-secondary recruitment program had a one-per-cent success rate.

“Recruitment is so selective, the federal government accepts a lower share of applicants than elite Ivy League institutions like Harvard University,” says the report, which points out Harvard’s most recent academic year’s acceptance rate was 5.2 per cent.

The report also raises other issues affecting the hiring of young people, including the older generation in government jobs who are delaying retirement, as well as the length of time it takes to go through the hiring process and the lack of career growth. Younger generations tend to have more debt because of student loans and cannot afford to wait several months to be hired, says the report.


The report offered several recommendations to address these issues.

* Streamline the hiring processes: Use more technology for online application forms to reduce printing and scanning, use electronic signatures for online forms and also create an easier process for security clearance.

* Recruitment: Make the hiring process more dynamic and prioritize different skill-sets that may be outside of the usual boxes ticked on application forms. Find new ways to identify top talent, which includes predictive analytics that determine what existing and future skills an applicant meets.

* Mobilizing jobs: Career growth and internal mobility is something millennials want, so offer several different job opportunities within the same organization across different sectors.

* Think outside the cubicle: Break down the barriers that isolate employees in the office to enhance communication, and enhance employees’ overall well-being. Create more dynamic workspaces that include options to work remotely.

* Incentivize innovation: Recognizing and encouraging innovation will benefit the public service. Teams that encouraged diverse perspectives often performed better, says the report. Feeling that creative ideas were recognized and welcomed was important to “would-be innovators.”

Several changes to attract millennials to the public sector are already underway or are being tested in pilot programs, according to the report.

Source: Stereotypes hurting millennials’ chances of finding work in the public service, says report | Ottawa Citizen

Why diversity never comes to some workplaces

Interesting study showing the effect referrals have on recruitment – not what you think:

Striving for greater diversity in the workplace – be it gender, race, age or experience levels among employees – is a long sought-after goal by business leaders looking for a competitive advantage.

Several studies show that companies with a diverse workforce are more likely to outperform others in the field. So, with so much on the line, why do so many firms still struggle with a lack of gender, race or age diversity within their ranks?

Brian Rubineau, of McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management in Montreal, and Roberto Fernandez of MIT Sloan in Massachusetts tackled that question in a recent study examining the role of recruitment techniques in workplace make-up and how employers can influence the process to ensure greater diversity.

Specifically, the study, published in Organizational Science, looked at word-of mouth recruiting, the most common way for organizations to fill jobs.

Using mathematical modelling, the researchers challenge a long-held belief that the referral method serves to preserve and, often, worsen job segregation. The theory, based on previous research, posits that people are most likely to recommend others who are most like themselves.

Women, for example, tend to reach out to women in their networks, and men do likewise. The same is thought to be true across other demographics, including age, experience, religion or ethnicity, says Dr. Rubineau, an assistant professor of organizational behaviour.

But the researchers found that workplace segregation actually has less to do with who is making the referral than it does with how often a referral is being made by a particular individual or group.

Unchecked, members of even the smallest groups will, over time, dominate. All it takes is for its members to be more active than other groups in recruiting from within their own community network.

“If you have a group that is referring at a higher rate than other groups, then that group is – over time – going to become the majority, no matter how small it was to start with,” says Dr. Rubineau.

Dr. Rubineau says employers can use the study findings to their advantage. By tracking referral patterns, organizations can map hiring trends and determine whether word-of-mouth recruiting is helping or hurting diversity goals. They can also urge underrepresented groups to be more active in suggesting prospective employees.

“Organizations can’t realistically eliminate word-of-mouth recruitment because it is such a dominate tool,” says Dr. Rubineau.

Source: Why diversity never comes to some workplaces – The Globe and Mail