Door to the C-Suite still locked for many diverse candidates amid slow pace of change

Good to have this data indicating the need for change:

Nancy Tower knows just how important help from the highest echelons of corporate Canada can be for someone trying to break into the old boys’ club.

She was a promising worker when she started at Halifax-based energy company Emera Inc. in 1997, but said a “gender-blind” CEO gave her some advice that helped her ascend to become the president and chief executive at subsidiary Tampa Electric.

He prodded her to get experience in all areas of the business, making her a more well-rounded executive candidate, even if it was lonely at times.

“I was chief financial officer of Emera for six years and when I would attend conferences, most of the CFOs would be male. I didn’t have a lot of female colleagues,” Tower said. “I think the utility business does tip toward more males in senior positions.”

Despite the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements spurring a push for change across corporate Canada, data shows the country’s most powerful companies haven’t made much progress since Tower’s ascent.

Women are still significantly underrepresented at the top ranks of Canada’s most prominent and powerful companies. The figures are even lower for Black and Indigenous women and other marginalized groups.

A study from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found women accounted for about 10 per cent of named executive officers (NEOs) — a company’s most senior and highly compensated positions — at about 250 businesses in both 2017 and 2018, the most recent years it looked at.

Comparing those numbers to previous years is complicated — a common difficulty when reporting about underrepresented populations because figures haven’t been publicly available until recently and there is no standard methodology due to a wide range of data collection methods.

Still, the 10 per cent figure is in line with a 2018 Canadian Press analysis of TSX60 companies, which found less than eight per cent of the top paid management roles were held by women. For chief executive and chief financial officer, the number of women had actually decreased compared with five years earlier.

“The door to the C-Suite is locked for women. They can’t get in the door … That situation hasn’t changed at all,” said David Macdonald, a senior economist at the CCPA, an independent and non-partisan think tank that researches social, economic and environmental justice issues.

“If they do manage to get in the door somehow, then they will get paid less no matter what job they take.”

In each of the two years examined in the CCPA study, female named officers on average made 69 cents for every dollar made by their male counterparts. That represented an average pay gap of at least $900,000.

The situation can be even more bleak for people who are Indigenous, racialized or have disabilities. Studies say women from these groups are even less likely to be given top roles or paid as much as their male or white counterparts.

Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP research from 2020 showed 32 per cent of companies had at least one executive officer who identifies as a visible minority. Out of the 205 companies that disclosed data, just two had at least one executive officer who is Indigenous and five had people with disabilities in top positions.

“When women make gains, it is not all women,” said Sen. Ratna Omidvar. “I’ve been told the rising tide lifts all boats, but that is not what I see.”

Omidvar pushed for amendments in 2018 to the Canada Business Corporations Act that would have required publicly traded companies to disclose the number of women and people from “equity-seeking groups” on their boards and in senior management.

Governance and diversity advocates supported similar measures as a way to encourage progress at a faster pace.

In 2015, the Ontario Securities Commission introduced a “comply-or-explain” requirement for TSX-listed companies to disclose annually how many women are on their board and in executive officer positions, and whether there are targets in place. If a company does not have a policy, it must explain why.

Since then, the share of board seats held by women has increased to 17 per cent from 11 per cent and there has been a decline in the share of boards with no women. Even so, almost half  — 46 per cent — of companies still do not have any women in executive officer positions, according to the latest numbers from the OSC.

The Nasdaq stock exchange earlier this month filed a proposal with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for a comply-or-explain regulation that would require most listed companies to have at least two diverse directors or explain why they cannot meet the mandate.

Yet the proposed changes to Canadian law failed because critics argued businesses shouldn’t be overregulated, Omidvar said.

“I was actually completely shattered, but this is politics,” she said.

If the vote was held again, she is confident it would tilt in her favour. Not only are similar measures gaining traction, the country reached a “tipping point” after the May death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in U.S. police custody.

Floyd’s death resulted in mass protests across the U.S. and Canada and prompted business leaders to pledge to do more to help underrepresented groups.

Manon Brouillette, the former chief executive and president of Quebecor Inc. subsidiary Videotron, said impostor syndrome — where people feel like they are inexperienced or don’t belong in some jobs — plays a big role too.

“When I joined Videotron in 2004, I was the only executive woman at the table, but my (bigger) fear was that I was 10 years younger than other guys,” said Brouillette, who spent almost 15 years at the company and now serves on boards for companies including the National Bank of Canada.

“A lot of women really want to be experts in something before doing it.” Luckily for her, she said, “I’m not scared of failure, so I take more risk.”

Brouillette prods other women to push for a higher salary or apply for new roles without feeling they must meet all the criteria.

Tower, who plans to retire next year, does the same thing, encouraging other women to replicate her methods and fight for equal compensation.

But companies aren’t off the hook either. Brouillette recommends leaders avoid trying to appear “superhuman” and instead make workers feel they can reach out with any issue. Even something as simple as calling executives by their first name rather than a formal title can create positive change, Brouillette said.

“You have more balanced executive teams and the power is more shared in our economy now than 20 years ago, but still, the CEO sets the tone in the business, so it will all reflect on how women grow in that business.”

Source: Door to the C-Suite still locked for many diverse candidates amid slow pace of change

Survey shows support for migrant workers getting more benefits and protections, as senators introduce motion for change

Good initiative by Senators Black and Omidvar in commissioning this poll:

Eight in 10 Canadians say temporary foreign workers should be entitled to the same benefits and protection as any other workers in this country, according to a Nanos Research poll.

The survey, commissioned by senators Ratna Omidvar and Rob Black, was released Thursday in the wake of a Star story that highlighted the plight of hundreds of Trinidadian seasonal migrant farm workers, who are stuck in Canada due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and unable to access employment insurance benefits.

The pandemic has shed light on the vulnerability of temporary foreign workers, who pay the same EI premiums as Canadian workers but who have difficulty accessing the benefits due to their precarious immigration status.

Trinidad and Tobago has closed its airports to international flights since March and the estimated 400 stranded workers are on the verge of losing their legal status in Canada as their work permits expire on Dec. 15. Many have been denied EI, with officials saying their “closed” work permit prevents the workers from looking for other employers, resulting in them being declared not “ready or available” for work.

The senators say that in addition to benefits, migrant workers should have “pathways” to obtaining permanent resident status in Canada, something that is currently very limited for these workers.

“The pandemic has highlighted the fact that temporary migrant workers and seasonal agricultural workers are essential to Canada,” said Black. “We are calling on the Government of Canada for pathways to permanency for essential workers, should they so desire.”

The poll of 1,040 Canadians was conducted in late October and independent from the Star story.

It found that 93 per cent of respondents said migrant workers are essential contributors to Canada’s agricultural sector and 81 per cent said they deserved a pathway to permanent residence.

Canada’s agricultural sector depends on the temporary migrant work force, which makes up 17 per cent of the total employment in the sector.

“We need more concrete and equitable improvements to our migrant workers program. Since the workers are essential to our well being and safety, then the safest … and the most human way forward is to provide them with more permanent residency options,” Omidvar said.

Both Black and Omidvar plan to introduce a motion in the Senate on Thursday calling on the Liberal government to create permanent residence pathways for migrant workers.

Source: Survey shows support for migrant workers getting more benefits and protections, as senators introduce motion for change

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:  https://www.statcan.gc.ca/diversity-questionnaire.
 
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*)infostats@canada.ca*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:https://www.statcan.gc.ca/diversity

Omidvar and Khanna: Seven deadly sins to avoid on the path to anti-racism

Great commentary:

Canada has a long history of racism: colonization, slavery, the residential school system, the Chinese head tax, the SS Komagata Maru, the Japanese internment and the demolition of Africville. Although Canada became the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy in 1971, Black, Indigenous, and people of colour have continued to face racism from our past to our present.

As a nation, we have realized that we cannot live up to our promise of an equitable society if we continue to uphold overt and covert forms of racism. Race scholar Ibram X. Kendi says we are either racist or actively anti-racist, and there is no in-between. The work we are talking about is not just a necessary change, but one that is long overdue. However, even the best of intentions, strategies and plans can fail if they are not cognizant of the pitfalls ahead of them.

Here are the pitfalls to avoid. Let’s call them the seven deadly sins.

The first is the sin of empty words and a singular action. Some call this diversity theatre or performative ally-ship. We must collectively commit to changing behaviours and policies with timelines and resources. This is not passion, it is work. It is not trendy, it is ongoing. It is not aspirational, it is grounded in practice, unlearning and re-learning.

The second is the sin of ignoring or failing to gather evidence. Anti-racism work is not an opinion sport. It must be grounded in intersectional qualitative and quantitative data and analysis, so that the progress can be benchmarked against evidence.

The third is punting responsibility away from leadership. Anti-racism work needs an ongoing commitment from those in positions of influence, not just when it is convenient. Leaders have the power and resources to create cultural change, to centre Black and Indigenous experiences, and to address systemic racism. The worst thing we can do is underestimate the need for support from the top.

The fourth is the sin of ignoring whom you have influence over and do business with. Organizations often forget that this is, in fact, their most important lever. By using an anti-racist lens on procurement, for instance, it is possible to extend the reach of strategies to a wider circle.

The fifth is the sin of overlooking privilege. This cements access for some and denies it to others. Anti-racism work is about looking inward and looking outward, not from a mindset of “helping” others but helping ourselves understand our own privilege. We can no longer support the idea of meritocracy: that those who work hardest get the furthest without understanding the role that privilege plays.

The sixth is the sin of tokenism. It is never acceptable to invite someone into a role for the sole purpose of ticking off a box. This is insincerity and shallowness of the worst kind. A thoughtful, sincere response can never simply start with a knee-jerk appointment that may salve some consciences, but will do little to embed anti-racism, inclusion and belonging into the culture of an organization.

The seventh and final deadly sin is the sin of centring the dominant group. Anti-racism work is not reaching for comfort but actively seeking discomfort. It is about understanding the importance of continually measuring impact over intent, the idea that how our actions are received is more important than the action itself. We should continue to centre Black, Indigenous, and people of colour. It is up to those experiencing racism to let us know if racism has been eradicated.

As we embark on our anti-racism journey, it is important to remember that this commitment is hard but necessary. We are not free until we are all free. Let’s roll up our sleeves and truly get to work. Our country will be better tomorrow for what we do today.

Sen. Ratna Omidvar is an Independent senator from Ontario. Diya Khanna is a diversity, equity and inclusion manager with Amazon and was appointed to the Seattle Women’s Commission in 2018.

Source: Seven deadly sins to avoid on the path to anti-racism

Senator Omidvar: No longer business as usual [diversity and governance]

Good arguments by Senator Omidvar:

Over the last month Canadians have taken to the streets to protest against racism, calling for justice, truth and an appropriate reflection of diversity in all aspects of Canadian life, in particular in places of power and influence.

In this context, those who are appointed or elected to the nation’s public and private boards as directors deserve special attention.  They include the directors of publicly listed corporations, public agencies, boards and commissions at the federal, provincial and local levels, as well as those who govern Canada’s private foundations and charities.

For the most part, these corridors of power are a reflection of the old Canada and the privileges accrued to one demographic: mainly white and mainly male. There has been almost no real movement for visible minorities (including Black Canadians), Indigenous Peoples and the disabled as they stand on the bottom rungs of governance, even though their share of the population is 27.2 per cent for Indigenous and visible minorities and 22 per cent for the disabled.

If we are serious about going beyond mouthing platitudes on diversity, then we must become more intentional about it — first by grounding change based on evidence and next by charting a way forward.

Typically, change comes in one of two ways: either we are legislated by our governments to behave a certain way or we choose to do so willingly. Both can be propelled by events. The events and the mood of the day call for a combination of both, but with an underlining imperative of urgency.

Just as the corporate sector has been intentional about bringing more women on to their boards, they can and must turn their eyes now to both men and women who are Black and Indigenous. Business understands this. The Canadian technology sector has come together to launch a new effort to eliminate racism and bring diversity into its fold. Earlier, through the leadership of Wes Hall, and Bay Street influencers like Victor Dodig, Prem Watsa and Rola Dagher announced the launch of the Canadian Council of Business Leaders against Anti-Black Racism. If they are successful and demonstrate results, they will transform not just how they do business, but who they are.

In turn, the federal government should rethink its approach to corporate reporting on diversity. A few years ago, the government passed Bill C-25 which requires federally listed corporations to develop diversity plans, and to either “comply or explain” their progress on an annual basis. The first such reports are trickling in and if there is progress, it is in terms of gender.  The opposite is true of racial and ethnic minorities, the disabled and Indigenous peoples.

With the hindsight and wisdom of today, the government needs to make every effort to go beyond “diversity planning” to “governance equity.”  They should amend the law to include employment equity definitions (EE) since EE laws have changed the face of the workforce in this country. A similar approach is needed in governance.

Further, the search for truth should take us into the hazy world of public agencies, boards, commissions and crown corporations. These include big nation-building institutions at the federal level, like the CBC but also hundreds of provincial and municipal agencies boards and commissions. Data at the federal level is scarce, and what exists isn’t fulsome, aggregated amongst groups, nor is it regularly disclosed. This is a missed opportunity because as we know, what gets measured, gets reported and gets actioned. Statistics Canada should be given the mandate to gather and report this data on an annual basis.

The search for truth also includes Canada’s 175,000 charities, foundations and not for profits. They hold our country together —whether in small towns, or large urban centres. They touch every aspect of our society, from sport to religion, from seniors to youth. Philosophically, they are more likely to embrace values and principles of inclusion and voluntarily begin to gather data on governance through their large and powerful industry associations.  They should begin to do at the earliest possible opportunity, thus leading the way for other sectors to follow.

This voluntary resolve must be further strengthened by government action.  The CRA should amend the T3010 and the T1044 forms that charities and not for profits file annually to include a simple question on diversity representation on boards of directors based on existing EE guidelines.   In this way the country’s vast network of charities and not for profits may well be the first sector to have a fulsome picture of governance, inclusion and diversity.

It is easy to be aspirational, but it is imperative to move from aspiration to concrete action.   Gathering the evidence on governance in a thoughtful and sustained way will lead us from symbolic discussions about diversity to the real expression of inclusion.

The only option not on the governance table is simply governance as usual.

Source: ipolitics.ca/2020/07/15/no-…

Open Letter to Directors, Executive Senator Omidvar: Directors, and CEOs of Canadian Charities and Non-Profits

A pointed reminder that charities and non-profits have work to do to improve their board diversity by Senator Omidvar, starting with better data and voluntary disclosure. Any initiative by the big players should report on the four employment equity groups and ideally be synchronized on a fiscal or calendar year basis to facilitate comparisons:

Dear colleagues,

First, let me thank you for the work that you, your staff, and volunteers have done to keep Canadians safe during the pandemic.  Your heroic efforts have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. I also know that Canadians will rely on you to help them stride slowly, yet confidently, into the recovery stage of this crisis.

But our country also needs to wake up to another crisis. The scourge of racism holds back prospects for security, safety, and opportunity for all its victims. But it has a particularly malignant effect on Black Canadians and Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Canadians recognize this; they have taken to the streets with vociferous demands to address it. Governments, corporations, the media, and other institutions are all taking a hard look at themselves to ask the question: what have we done to recognize and address all kinds of racism?

But what about charities and non-profits?

In June 2019, the Senate Charities Committee tabled its final report. Buried in the 42 recommendations is one that deserves re-examination given the context of the day. In the report we took note of the size, scope, and influence of the sector. We noted that it touches all aspects of our lives, from religion to sports, from seniors to young people. It also wields sizeable heft in other aspects: it contributes 8% to the GDP and employs close to two million Canadians. But what about its diversity?

Sadly, the absence of data gets in the way of answering these questions with any real reliability.  An e-consultation conducted in connection to the Senate study, although not statistically significant, found that more than half of the organizations which responded to the survey did not collect data on diversity of employees or directors.

Further, studies by academic institutions like the Diversity Institute at Ryerson University paint a picture of a sector that may talk the talk but appears to be unwilling to walk the walk. The evidence that is available is not encouraging. Racialized minorities made up 54% of the Greater Toronto Area’s total population in 2017. However, their representation in leadership roles in the voluntary sector falls short. Only 38% of boards analyzed had at least 20% racialized minority leaders, and 19% had none. Equally notable, 38% of senior management teams had at least 20% racialized minority representation, while 52% had none.

The Senate recommended a reasonable start to get data on diversity in the charitable sector. It recommended that the CRA include questions on both the T1044 and the T3010 forms on diversity representation on boards of directors as per the existing employment equity definitions.

In this way, the data could be aggregated to present a picture of diversity in the sector on an annual basis. Based on clear evidence, the country and the sector could see if progress is being made, how and where.

Since the Senate tabled the report, events have overtaken it. Parliament has not met on a regular basis and the Senate Charities report has not yet been debated or approved. However, the need to ensure that leaders reflect the diversity of our country’s population has heightened. The sector does not have the time to wait for the report’s recommendations to be implemented. It must take action now. That action is now in the hands of its leaders.

Each charity or non-profit can undertake such a review voluntarily on an annual basis. More importantly, large sector membership-based organizations, like Imagine Canada, Community Foundations of Canada, the Ontario Nonprofit Network, and the Philanthropic Foundations of Canada can request that their members disclose this data on a voluntary basis. Given that the membership of these organizations is large, it would create a significant evidence base from which to draw conclusions. Collected annually, it would give impetus to provide a national picture of diversity in the sector. Because the sector would be in the driver’s seat, it could choose to disaggregate the data to further understand issues of race and intersectionality. Most importantly, evidence could lead to action: the opportunity to compare successes and challenges and share best practices. All without legislation.

The sector could go one step further. It could make disclosure of such information a criterion for all members, thus making it mandatory within their associations. This would send a powerful signal of leadership to the rest of Canada.

Charities and non-profits are often frustrated and hamstrung by the federal government in their efforts to achieve their missions. The sector has urged the government to take it more seriously, as it should. Yet, here is an opportunity to state exactly how serious the charitable sector is on a matter of national urgency. It is time for the sector to lead, to show the way for others, so that others may follow.

I am calling on the sector to take up this call and be a leader and a champion for diversity and inclusion. In the fight against racism, this is not the only step. But it is the first that will bring evidence-based reflections and changes.

I have often been asked if the sector is ready for this change. My observations to date are summed up as follows: the sector’s spirit is willing, but its flesh is weak.

I sincerely hope that you will prove me wrong.

Sincerely,

The Honourable Ratna Omidvar, C.M., O.Ont.

Independent Senator for Ontario

Senate of Canada

Source: https://thephilanthropist.ca/2020/06/open-letter-to-directors-executive-directors-and-ceos-of-canadian-charities-and-non-profits/

Omidvar: Will Canada be as open to immigrants after COVID-19?

Canada will need to have a healthy debate on how fast and how quickly to resume the current immigration levels plan as we ease out of the pandemic.

Given the economic impact, it is likely that some trimming of projected levels will be required over the next few years before resuming steady annual increases.

And as I have argued before, plans need to start factoring anticipated effects of AI and automation and, equally important, consider the lessons being learned about the importance of lower-skilled but essential workers.

Going back to “business as usual” would be unrealistic as well as a missed opportunity to rethink some of the current immigration assumptions.

And the issue is not “open or closed” options but rather the degree of openness:

As Canadians continue to battle COVID-19 by staying in their homes or working on the front lines in the hospitals and clinics, my thoughts turn to a hopeful end of the crisis and a return to normalcy. But the new normal may well be different from the old.

For most of its history, Canada has been an open country. We welcome immigrants at one of the highest rates in the world and despite many challenges, we do a good job of helping newcomers be part of Canadian society. We invest in integration at all three levels of government, and the high-touch system generally delivers the policy objectives of the government of the day. We know that newcomers’ success leads to collective success economically and socially.

But will “open Canada” still exist once the crisis is averted and the borders are reopened? That is a choice we as a nation will have to make.

Certainly this question will be a big one for Canadians and for governments to grapple with. The uproar over medical supplies we sent to China (which has since been repaid by the Chinese government) might be indicative of a “battening down the hatches” mentality. Many will want to keep our borders closed or extremely tightened as US President Trump did recently, temporarily banning immigration to the US. They will argue that the spread of pandemics has roots in the movement of people. Travel will become more restricted, health screenings will be enhanced and there will be a growing push to limit newcomers out of fear of spreading disease.

As someone who was an immigrant, and has worked on immigration issues my entire adult life, I am worried this perspective will prevail. I can understand if it does. But can we afford less immigration?

Before the pandemic, most of the economic models said that Canada needs large numbers of newcomers to help deal with an aging population. Let me make this real for you. In the 1970s, there were roughly 13 seniors per 100 working age people, according to the Century Initiative. But by 2036, there will be close to 40 seniors per 100 workers. Our birth rate is simply not high enough to meet that demand. Many have said we will need workers at all ends of the spectrum – from scientists and professors, to trade workers and caregivers. Immigration and immigrants will need to continue to be part of the solution for Canada to thrive, grow and prosper.

On top of that demographic problem, all Canadian governments, municipalities, provinces and the federal government, are spending billions of dollars to help people struggling with job loss, to help charities provide much needed services on the front lines and support businesses that have limited or no demand for their services. Depending on how long the COVID crisis lasts, we could add over $100 billion to the national debt. How are we going to pay for that down the line? One way would be to continue to welcome newcomers so we can expand our economy to pay our debt, fill essential jobs and generate a constantly growing tax base to pay for our severely stressed social programs.

The pandemic also shows that coordinated global action is needed more than ever. Yes, countries should focus on their own people during this time of crisis, but what is becoming painfully clear is that we need a united global response. What affects one country will affect another. We need global action to deal with such large and ever present threats to humanity. No system of closed borders will stop the spread of viruses like this one. We need international cooperation and international preparedness to truly deal with the next pandemic. It is not whether this will happen again but when. We need to be prepared.

But these arguments are tough to accept when fear is ever present. This pandemic will change the national psyche, and how we respond is an open ended question. We will have a choice to make. Open or closed? This will be the defining issue of our time.

Source: Will Canada be as open to immigrants after COVID-19?

Multiculturalism doesn’t divide, it encourages belonging: Adams and Omidvar

Another good contribution to ongoing debates about multiculturalism:

Maxime Bernier has argued that multiculturalism is a divisive policy that encourages Canadians to identify with their own “tribes” at the expense of their wider society. But there’s abundant evidence that, far from dividing Canadians into factions and hyphenated identities, multiculturalism (or “interculturalism” in Quebec) actually encourages belonging, participation and integration. Critically, it does this by treating all Canadians – not just immigrants – as part of the country’s multicultural fabric (with the exception of the 5 per cent of people in Canada who are Indigenous, few of whom would see themselves as part of the multicultural experiment).

Let’s clarify our terms. “Multiculturalism” refers to a specific policy framework with a history – it was adopted in 1971 – and a budget. The 2018 federal budget allocated $23-million for “multiculturalism” programs over the next two years, primarily the development of a national anti-racism strategy and support for community groups working to help newcomers integrate. That sum is a fraction of 1 per cent of the total federal budget expenditures of about $338-billion.

But multiculturalism is also something less concrete and more powerful: it’s a sensibility that millions of Canadians have adopted as they navigate diversity in daily life in their communities.

We believe that in most places the sensibility of multiculturalism boils down to two key elements. One is simple respect for diversity of race, ethnicity, culture and religion: the sense that diversity is normal, not a problem to be solved. The other is acceptance of the idea that integration works best when it works both ways: Newcomers should do their best to adapt, and those who came before have a role to play in creating environments that support that integration. You can’t integrate into a group that refuses to accept you or treat you fairly.

The idea of multiculturalism pervades Canadian institutions: public schools, neighbourhoods, workplaces, civic life and politics. And this is true far beyond Canada’s three largest cities. Resource jobs have drawn tens of thousands of newcomers to smaller centres in Alberta and Saskatchewan; Atlantic Canada has been courting settlement aggressively; and the Northwest Territories recently recorded its largest-ever immigrant inflow. As communities across Canada become more diverse, they begin to draw on the formal practices and informal habits that constitute day-to-day multiculturalism.

We believe both the policy and practice of multiculturalism help to explain why 85 per cent of immigrants eventually become citizens, which is a higher naturalization rate than in other major immigrant-receiving countries. Citizenship, in turn, enables voting and other forms of political participation; 46 sitting MPs were born outside Canada – the highest share of foreign-born legislators in any country. (And, no, these MPs are not just elected by members of their own groups; only four ridings in Canada are dominated by a single minority ethno-cultural group.)

Multiculturalism is so much a part of our society that in a recent Environics Focus Canada survey, in response to an open-ended question (no response categories provided) about what makes Canada unique, the overwhelming first choice was “multiculturalism/diversity.” It’s true that Canadians sometimes like the general idea of multiculturalism more than they like specific real-life implications – but this doesn’t make multiculturalism meaningless. For one thing, even the aspiration toward genuine inclusion and equity for all groups is not one that all societies share. Multicultural principles have also given rise to many concrete accommodations that have reshaped both daily life and familiar symbols such as police and military uniforms.

When asked what values immigrants should adopt, those born in Canada and those born elsewhere give the same top answers: respect for Canada’s history and culture comes first, followed by knowledge of English or French, tolerance of other people and religions and respect for the law.

Large majorities across both groups believe immigrants can be just as good citizens as anyone born here. Immigrants tend to express slightly more pride in Canada than the Canadian-born do, although large majorities of both groups are proud of their country. The vast majority of immigrants identify more with Canada (78 per cent) than with their country of birth (12 per cent).

The architects of the original policy framework of multiculturalism might not have anticipated that it would become so central to the national identity, or so deeply embraced by people whose ancestors fit easily into old, colonial ideas of monocultural or bicultural Canada.

But while they might not have foreseen the exact contours of contemporary Canada, they did understand the importance of a strong social fabric. Canadian multiculturalism has always aimed at integration, not fragmentation. Three of the four original pillars of the policy focused on participation and inclusion, while only one committed to supporting groups’ efforts to sustain their heritage cultures.

Almost a half-century later, multiculturalism is larger and deeper than a government policy. It’s notable that our surveys find Canadians’ identification with multiculturalism varies so little according to migration status and identity group. If Mr. Bernier intends to attack Canadian multiculturalism, his opponents will include Canadians from every corner of the globe, and plenty of Canadians whose families have been here for generations. In other words, they’ll look a lot like Canada.

Source: Multiculturalism doesn’t divide, it encourages belonging

Improve, then use, name-blind recruitment to boost Senate staff diversity: committee – The Hill Times

Ironically, the Senate staffer numbers are not too bad — out of 354 employees, there were 54 people who identify as visible minorities (15.3 per cent, about the same percentage who are also Canadian citizens), 20 people with disabilities (5.6 per cent), 12 Aboriginal people (3.4 per cent), and 209 women (59 per cent) as of March 31, 2016. However, the point on under-representation of Indigenous staff at more senior levels is of note:

A name-blind recruitment project could help improve Senate staff diversity, but only if done properly, according to the head of a Senate group studying employment equity in the Upper Chamber’s administration.

In a report tabled June 21 with the Senate’s Internal Economy, Budgets, and Administration Committee—a powerful group of Senators that handles the Chamber’s legal and financial matters—its Subcommittee on Diversity said the administration should “consider implementing a name-blind recruitment pilot project and evaluate whether name-blind recruitment could be expanded for hiring by the Senate administration and potentially by individual Senators’ offices.”

The recommendation was one of 10 made by the subcommittee chaired by Liberal Senator Mobina Jaffer (British Columbia) following a study of a 2016 report on diversity among the 354 members of the Senate administrative staff—authored by high-ranking officials in the Senate bureaucracy—and diversity in the Senate workforce more generally, including in Senators’ offices.

The subcommittee—which also includes Conservative Senator Elizabeth Marshall (Newfoundland and Labrador) and Independent Senator Raymonde Saint-Germain (De la Vallière, Que.)—was struck in late 2016and began its study the following spring, holding five meetings between March 1, 2017 and May 8, 2018.

But there should be major improvements to the name-blind recruitment project tried out in the federal public service before it gets used in the Senate, said Sen. Jaffer, who told The Hill Times she first wants Senate staff to study where the public service pilot project went wrong.

Run between April and October 2017, the goal of the name-blind recruitment pilot run by the Public Service Commission and Treasury Board Secretariat was to “determine whether concealing personal information…which could lead to the identification of a candidate’s origin from job applications, had an impact on the screening decisions made by reviewers when compared to the traditional assessment method where all personal information was presented.” The idea was to see if a hiring manager is biased by the name they see on the resume, or other such personal information about the potential new recruit.

The analysis, limited to those who self-declared as visible minorities, ultimately concluded that there was “no net benefit or disadvantage with the NBR assessment method for visible minorities,” though there were some problems identified with the method itself.

During a March 20 appearance by Treasury Board President Scott Brison (Kings-Hants, N.S.) at the Senate’s Question Period, Independent Senator Ratna Omidvar (Ontario) raised the methodology issues with him.

“First, the hiring managers who were recruited for this project volunteered. I would suggest that creates a certain lack of purity, if I can use that word. The second is that the hiring managers made their decisions knowing that their decisions and the comparative results would be subject to review,” she said.

Mr. Brison acknowledged there were problems with the pilot project’s method, and said he has told Treasury Board, a central agency that acts as the employer of the public service, that he wants “to actually continue to apply the name-blind hiring pilot and to potentially apply it in departments or agencies wherein there is less diversity, to apply it in certain departments and agencies and in regions, to actually continue to work to this.”

Of the results themselves, Mr. Brison said: “The good news is that the pilot came back and said that they did not find, necessarily, a bias or discriminatory hiring practices within the government of Canada.”

Sen. Jaffer said Mr. Brison’s response was disappointing.

“So to say there is no bias, he was happy to see there is no bias, that’s stretching it. There is,” she said, pointing to her years as chair of the Senate’s Human Rights Committee where she used to hear about people not wanting to voluntarily self-identify as belonging to a minority or marginalized group because they didn’t want to be seen as different.

“I am concerned that the public service has not done a good job [with the project], and I’m hoping that the Senate will show the way.”

Setting the tone and setting the example is a key tenet for Sen. Jaffer in her work to improve diversity in the Senate, after experiences in the halls of Parliament that she describes as “soul destroying.”

Sen. Jaffer is the first South Asian woman to be appointed to the Senate and, among other incidents, said she has been stopped from using entrances to Parliamentary Precinct buildings, even while wearing her Senate pin showing that she is a Senator.

And if these things can happen to her, as a Senator, she said it worries her what those lower in the pecking order experience.

“If it happens to me, what is happening to people who work here? I represent them too. If I don’t speak up, then I let them down, too, [and] they have much more to lose.”

Despite it not being in her nature to rock the boat, she said it’s important that she speak out and do things to make changes, drawing on experiences dating back to being the first South Asian woman to practise law in Canada.

“It’s not because I think that’s my role in life. I don’t go looking for it, because I don’t have time for it. It destroys you, it kills a part of me every time,” she said. “Anyone working in the Senate or in the House who feels that they have not been treated fairly, they should know they’re no longer alone. There are services, there are structures that can help and they shouldn’t suffer in silence.”

Senate needs to reflect Canada, says Sen. Jaffer

Sen. Jaffer said the Senate administration has been putting in a genuine effort to improve the diversity of its staff over the years.

Back in 2005, then-Conservative Senator Donald Oliver called the Senate out for “glaring” and  “problematic” systemic racism after a report foundthat there had been no visible minorities appointed to senior and middle management positions between 2000 and 2004 and that visible minorities made up only 6.8 per cent of the Senate’s 425 employees.

Throughout years of upheaval and change in the Senate, it’s remained an administrative priority to act on recommendations Senators have made in response to subsequent diversity reports, Sen. Jaffer said.

In 2014, the Senate’s Internal Economy Committee adopted a two-year Diversity and Accessibility Action Plan for the administration to act on, which included measures to ensure that representation of designated group members was monitored, along with the Senate’s “employment systems to identify systemic barriers and eliminate adverse impacts on the designated groups.”

According to the fifth report of the Senate’s Advisory Committee on Diversity and Accessibility, as of March 31, 2016, among the Senate’s 354 employees (which doesn’t include staff in Senators’ individual offices) there were 54 people who identify as visible minorities (15.3 per cent), 20 people with disabilities (5.6 per cent), 12 Aboriginal people (3.4 per cent), and 209 women (59 per cent).

“We had the auditors here, we had huge changeover, we had independent Senators—those all cause issues for the staff, the administration. Even then they were loyal in implementing, so I have lots of gratitude for that,” she said.

In the House of Commons, as of June 2017, 48 per cent of the House administration’s 2,234 employees were women, two per cent were Aboriginal persons, 10 per cent were visible minorities, and four per cent were people with disabilities.

The most recent report on employment equity in the core public service, covering the 2016-17 fiscal year, said that of the 181,674 employees tallied in March 2016, 54.4 per cent were women (compared to an estimated workforce availability of 52.5 per cent), 5.2 per cent were Aboriginal persons (against an estimated workforce availability of 3.4 per cent), 5.6 per cent were people with disabilities (compared to 4.4 per cent workforce availability), and 14.5 per cent were visible minorities (compared to 13 per cent).

But more work needs to be done, especially in encouraging and emphasizing the hiring of Aboriginal Canadians and veterans, the Senate subcommittee said.

It recommended that the Senate create an Aboriginal Young Interns program, expand its efforts to recruit staff from outside of the National Capital Region, and explore ways to target veterans in its recruitment efforts.

As of March 31, 2016, there were no Aboriginal people in the Senate’s manager occupational category and their representation in the professionals occupational category was below their national workforce availability.

The Senate, and all of the country’s institutions, need to reflect Canada, Sen. Jaffer said, or risk becoming irrelevant, and hitting the benchmark of workforce availability—the estimated availability in designated groups as a percentage of the entire workforce population—is not good enough.

“We’ve got to have people from different groups in management,” she said. “And until people get into management, we will not arrive at a proper goal because it’s the management that makes the decisions for hiring; it’s the management that sets the tone.”

The Senate administration has until June 13, 2019 to report back to the Senate Internal Economy Committee on steps it has taken to put in place the subcommittee’s recommendations.

via Improve, then use, name-blind recruitment to boost Senate staff diversity: committee – The Hill Times

Tougher impaired driving penalty ‘a double whammy’ for immigrants

The complexity of balancing a legitimate policy objective and one of the possibly unforeseen impact on Permanent Residents:

A proposed law to raise the maximum penalty for impaired driving offences in Canada could have a “disproportionate” impact on first-time immigrant offenders who would see their permanent residence status revoked and be deported, critics say.

But advocating equal rights for impaired drivers is a delicate issue, one that some senators and immigrant lawyers are trying to tackle as the Red Chamber sits this week to seek amendments to Bill C-46, the Impaired Driving Act, before sending it back to the House of Commons for a vote.

Currently, someone convicted of impaired driving could receive a maximum penalty of not more than five years in jail, but the offence would still be considered “ordinary criminality” under immigration law. An immigrant’s permanent residence status is not affected unless a sentence of six months or more is imposed.

However, under the proposed legislation, the increased maximum penalty to 10 years would automatically classify impaired driving as “serious criminality.” As a result, even if a first offender, who is not a Canadian citizen, is convicted and is only ordered to pay a fine, they would still lose their immigration status and be banned from Canada. This would affect foreign students, workers, visitors and permanent residents.

“We take impaired driving very seriously and we don’t want impaired drivers behind the wheel,” said Senator Ratna Omidvar in an interview. She noted that if a Canadian citizen is convicted of impaired driving for the first time, they could be sentenced to as little as a fine and walk free afterwards.

“A permanent resident in the same situation would pay the fine and face deportation,” Omidvar added. “It is a double whammy not on all people but just on a class of people. That’s an unintended consequence. The impact on permanent residents would be huge and disproportionate to what a Canadian would get.

In its submission to the Senate, the Canadian Bar Association also urged “careful consideration” of the bill, warning that the changes could put “a significant strain” on the immigration system and border officials in handling increases in inadmissibility and deportations.

The bar association wants the Senate to make the maximum jail penalty for impaired driving offences “10 years less a day” so they would still be classified as “ordinary criminality” and not trigger the automatic loss of a person’s permanent residency. At the very least, it says, there should be an exception to the 10-year penalty threshold for such offences that do not involve serious bodily injury or death.

“We remain concerned that Bill C-46 will introduce uncertainty into the law and result in significantly increased litigation and delays,” said bar association. “Our recommendations are intended to continue to protect Canadians from impaired driving, without triggering the serious criminality consequences.”

It’s not known how many immigrants would be affected by the proposed legislation, but immigration lawyer Robin Seligman said impaired driving is among the most common criminal offences and immigrants are not any more or less likely to commit the crime.

Statistics Canada said police reported a total of 72,039 impaired driving incidents in 2015 and given almost 300,000 newcomers and hundreds of thousands of visitors are coming to the country every year, the impact of the increased maximum penalty could be huge, said Seligman.

“Under the immigration law, serious criminality refers to terrorism, (threats to) national security and membership to organized crime. Lumping first-time impaired driving offenders with them is disproportionate and unfair. It’s an overkill and oversight,” Seligman said.

While repeat offenders of impaired driving deserve to be deported, immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman said first-timers should be allowed an opportunity for rehabilitation, especially where there’s no one hurt in the incident.

“There are definitely a lot of concerns over this bill, but it is always difficult for MPs to advocate for those convicted of any criminal offence,” said Waldman, who fears Ottawa would rush to pass the bill without amendments to fulfil its promise to legalize marijuana this summer.