Women, visible minorities make up larger share of latest Order of Canada appointments

My working deck highlights more of the findings of my analysis of the close to 1,700 appointments made over the past 9 years, looking at representation of women, visible minorities and Indigenous peoples, broken down by level, province and background. Given that most appointments reflect a long-term contribution, there is a gap between the population and visible minority appointments:

Working on a more detailed analysis but this provides the highlights:

Women, visible minorities and Indigenous people accounted for a larger share of the latest Order of Canada appointments than in recent years — a sign that Rideau Hall’s quest to diversify one of the country’s highest civilian honours is making progress.

Of the 135 people recently inducted into the Order of Canada, 40.7 per cent (55) are women, 12.6 per cent (17) are visible minority and just over eight per cent (11) are Indigenous.

The numbers are higher in all three categories than in the previous three years. Last year, most of the inductees were white men, and in 2019 well under a third were women.

Retired public servant Andrew Griffith, who served as Canada’s director general of citizenship and multiculturalism, said that while the numbers represent a “significant improvement,” it’s too soon to say whether it’s a trend.

“I’m always wary of claiming victory on the basis of one year,” he said. “So what I look at, whether I’m looking at these kind of numbers or other diversity numbers, is are you seeing a sustained change, a sustained increase.

“What I would like to see is two to three years from now comparing, let’s say, the previous three year period to the next three year period, and see if the needle has been moved.”

The Governor General makes appointments based on recommendations from the Advisory Council for the Order of Canada, which advises her based on nominations suggested by members of the general public.

Griffith said this process means Rideau Hall doesn’t have as many options to diversify the Order of Canada as other institutions.

The newest appointees include entreprenuer and philanthropist Mohamad Fakih and former senator Murray Sinclair, who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The Order of Canada relies on public nominations. The Office of the Secretary to the Governor General encourages people to nominate individuals who are reflective of our diversity, including Indigenous peoples and persons from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds,” a spokesperson for the Office of the Governor General said in a statement to CBC.

“As of 2019, the OSGG has asked new appointees to the Order of Canada to complete a voluntary self-identification questionnaire. We look forward to identifying trends as we gather data in the coming years.”

‘Perpetually vigilant’

Sarah Kaplan, director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, said the numbers show improvement but still don’t reflect Canada’s demographics.

“It seems to me that if your population is made up of about half women, or people of diverse genders, and you’re not representing that same proportion in the country’s most prestigious honours, then you are doing a disservice to the community,” she said.

She said she’d like to see Rideau Hall and the advisory council reach out to communities for suggestions rather than rely solely on nominations.

“Who’s going to know about that process and figure out how to navigate the nomination system?” she said. “It’s going to be people who are already in the centre of power, and that’s a pretty closed set of folks in the Canadian context.”

She also said the Office of the Governor General must keep pushing to make the Order of Canada better reflect Canadian society.

“The thing about improving representation in a society that has historically privileged just one group of people is that you have to be perpetually vigilant,” she said.

“And so one year’s progress does not mean that we have now fixed the problem, and that it will naturally trend upwards in subsequent years.”

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/representation-better-order-of-canada-2021-1.6302725

Men accounted for more than two-thirds of Order of Canada appointments last year

I have been tracking Order of Canada appointments since 2013 from a diversity perspective.

While my initial interest was sparked by the Harper government’s effort to increase the number of appointments from Western Canada and the business community (limited success), I increasingly viewed this a an integration indicator and one that likely reflected other award and recognition program (my 2017 detailed review can be found here: The Order of Canada and diversity):

Less than a third of Canadians appointed to the Order of Canada last year were women — a figure that represents the widest gender imbalance in appointments to the order in years.

Analysis by diversity researcher Andrew Griffith, a former senior government official, shows that 71.4 per cent of appointees in 2019 were men. The low number of women among the 2019 appointees — just 28.6 per cent of the total — and the low number of visible minorities — just 5.4 per cent — show the Order of Canada falling short of representing Canada’s diverse population.

Griffith said there may be a lag effect because the Order of Canada tends to be given in recognition of a lifetime’s body of work — and high-profile women were scarce in many fields until relatively recently. But he said he expected to see progress toward gender parity among Order of Canada recipients mirror the advances experienced by women in the public service.

“It indicates where the country has been because these are previous contributions that are being recognized, and yet it says how far we have to go to ensure that, at the honours level where we recognize Canadians, that we’re actually recognizing a broad, diverse spectrum of Canadians,” he said.

A lack of balance

Griffith looked into Order of Canada appointments since 2013. He said he found that, on average, the gender balance on appointments over the seven-year period was 65.6 per cent male and 34.4 per cent female. The appointments came closest to gender balance in 2015, when 54.4 per cent were men and 45.6 per cent were women.

Over the seven-year period Griffith studied, members of visible minorities made up an average of 4.8 per cent of Order of Canada appointments — well below the 22.3 per cent of the population who identified as visible minority in the 2016 census.

In that same period, Indigenous nominees comprised 4.7 per cent of the appointments — very close to the 4.9 per cent identified as Indigenous in the last census.

More than 7,000 people have been invested in the Order of Canada since it was launched in 1967 as one of the country’s highest civilian honours. Appointments are made by the governor general based on recommendations by an independent advisory council, which reviews nominations and holds confidential discussions before voting on each nominee.

Natalie Babin Dufresne, spokesperson for the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General, said there has been some progress toward gender balance in the Order of Canada in recent years. She noted that just 21 per cent of the appointees in 2000 were women.

Although the number of women nominated to the Order of Canada has remained steady at about 200 a year, out of roughly 500 to 800 total nominations, Babin Dufresne said the success rate for nominations is higher for women — 72 per cent, compared to 58 per cent for men.

“Progress remains slow, and new initiatives continue to be developed to improve this situation so that we can achieve results with the Order of Canada that are comparable to other programs, such as the Sovereign Medal for volunteers, where close to 48 per cent of the recipients are women,” she said in an email.

“Data collection to get a better understanding of historical trending for other diversity groups began during the current mandate, and will offer us some important insights in the coming years to better target our initiatives and efforts to increase representation for all groups, including gender, visible minority and Indigenous representation.”

Babin Dufresne said modernizing the broader Canadian honours system is one of Gov. Gen. Julie Payette’s top priorities.

While there is no mention of diversity representation in the Order of Canada’s constitution and regulations, Babin Dufresne said steps have been taken to boost its diversity, such as new data collection on gender identity, disabilities, visible minority and Indigenous status, and a new, more user-friendly nomination platform.

She also pointed out that all Order of Canada ceremonies are now livestreamed to boost visibility and accessibility.

Babin Dufresne said the best way to improve diversity in a merit-based public program like the Order of Canada is to get more Canadians to nominate more people — which is why her office is working to increase the public profile of all of Canada’s honours programs and to make the nomination process user-friendly.

Sarah Kaplan, director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy at the University of Toronto, said more must be done to make the Order of Canada reflect the country.

‘Not acceptable’

“It’s not acceptable, in the Canadian context — a country that considers itself to be a land of opportunity, a land of equal opportunity, a land that pays attention to the diverse communities that exist within Canada — that we would see the awards going mainly to men,” she said.

Kaplan rejected the notion that bringing in quotas could erode the merit-based selection process, arguing that there are plenty of Canadians from all backgrounds who have made extraordinary contributions to Canadian society who aren’t recognized because they don’t fit the “historical template.”

“Our definition of merit is one that is self-reinforcing, about giving the same elite people the same awards. And so, when people say it should be based on merit, they’re not recognizing the fact that the idea of merit itself has been designed by the people in positions of privilege to reinforce their privilege and keep others out,” she said.

Rideau Hall said the Order of Canada advisory council makes appointment recommendations based on merit, but also takes factors like diversity into account.

The spring meeting of the advisory council was postponed due to the pandemic so the July appointments were not named. A new group of appointees is to be announced later this year.

Source: Men accounted for more than two-thirds of Order of Canada appointments last year