Five Must-Ask Questions About Diversity and Inclusion in Canada

Public Service's Obligation To Mirror The People It Serves

Diversity and Inclusion in Canada

Multiculturalism has always been a defining characteristic in the history of Canada and makes it one of the most diverse countries of the world. Today, that diversity includes a veritable mosaic of cultures, languages, religions, people of different abilities, and different orientations.

As Canada’s largest employer, the federal public service has an obligation to ensure that its employees are representative of the diverse people it serves.

At the end of 2017, The Joint Union/Management Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion tabled research and recommendations to strengthen diversity and inclusion in the Canadian government.

The Task Force reported that in successful public sector organizations, diversity and inclusion:

  • leverages a range of perspectives needed to address today’s complex challenges
  • spurs innovation
  • increases productivity
  • creates a healthy, respectful workplace

Conversely, findings also indicated that although there are signs of growing momentum to support diversity and inclusion across the public service, there remain chronic and systemic challenges that inhibit greater headway. Recruitment, professional development, career progression and leadership diversity are a few examples with varying degrees of success.

While implementation is every public servants responsibility, a greater onus falls to HR people and senior leadership. Actions informed by data, effective benchmarks, measurement, evaluation and feedback across the public service, the Task Force noted, are critical to making progress.

TalentMap research shows government departments, agencies, and crown corporations of all sizes move through phases of maturity on the diversity and inclusion spectrum, from where there’s little buy-in or leadership awareness through to compliance, strategic acceptance and integration, up to those who lead best practices.

Finding out what diversity and inclusion means to employees in the context of the workplace is best understood by asking the right questions:

  1. Do you feel accepted, comfortable and safe within your organization?
  2. Are diverse identities, ideas and ways of thinking and working valued in your organization?
  3. Does your organization’s workforce reflect the diversity of the community?
  4. Does your organization have a clear definition of what is considered a respectful workplace?
  5. Overall does your workplace feel respectful?

Feedback about diversity and inclusion in the context of the workplace is best solicited through custom employee engagement surveys.

Compiling data, evaluating those insights, drawing up priority action plans and measuring results is best achieved by working with an employee engagement survey partner, like TalentMap, who offers the expertise and depth of public sector knowledge to guide and support your efforts.

As the Task Force report states in its conclusion:

“Diversity and inclusion are not options. They are imperative to the success of the public service in its ability to foster a healthy and productive workforce that can provide the best and most effective programs, policies and services to the people of Canada. It’s every public service employee’s task to help effect this transformation.”

That begins with you.

author patricia bell newson

About Patricia Bell Newson

A graduate of Canada’s leading Journalism Degree program, Patricia Bell Newson is an accomplished writer and communications specialist. As a key member of the TalentMap team, Pat leads the company’s thought leadership with full force producing weekly content on employee engagement and best practices in employee surveys. Pat’s experience in advising leaders on strategic approaches to sensitive issues, priorities, and policies together with her ability to research and easily grasp various concepts regarding the workplace has been a great asset in creating valuable insights for HR leaders.

If Pat ever takes her mind off her next writing project, she’ll either be on her next adventure traveling the world, trying new food experiences, or taking a well-deserved break at her cottage.

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