Part II – Envisioning a diverse and equitable Defence Team

The answer to the question "How will we know that we have reached our diversity destination?" is that you will not. It has been said "go as far as you can see, and you will see further." In terms of becoming an inclusive workforce, there will always be new horizons for visionary National Defence leaders.

Throughout its work, the Advisory Panel has been guided by a vision for a truly diverse and equitable Defence Team. The following are indicators that a more inclusive culture is taking hold. They represent but a few of the possible milestones that are worth aiming for as leaders question some of the practices that exist today, with an eye towards the future.

Perhaps, the Defence Team of the not-so-distant future will be one where:

  • The representation of Canada’s diversity in culture, gender and colour is so prevalent that, when one looks at all levels of the hierarchy—across a DND/CAF boardroom, classroom, workplace or parade square—it is barely noticed because it has become the norm rather than the exception.
  • Defence Team leaders sincerely and reflectively acknowledge Indigenous lands as part of their everyday protocol when addressing their teams.
  • Degrees of underlying privilege are unabashedly recognized and respectfully mitigated.
  • Members of the Defence Team boldly question long-standing practices and traditions to see if they need to be modified, discarded or modernized to promote an inclusive workplace, such as the allowance of everyone to observe their religious days in a fair and equitable manner.
  • All Defence Team members have an equitable chance to realize their full potential, which is recognized and valued by the leadership.
  • Multi-faith sacred spaces offer comfort and spiritual tools for everyone to practice traditional teachings.
  • Nursing mothers can pump their milk in a safe, comfortable place and are offered an appropriate place to store their milk.
  • All Defence Team members feel safe to challenge their colleagues on inappropriate behaviour, and the lessons are embraced as a learning experience by the entire team. Defence Team members involved understand how to seek support, if needed, and re-engage with their work quickly.
  • All members of the Defence Team treat each other, and the public they serve, with mutual respect in word and action. Professional behaviour is expected and recognized. Those who fail to maintain such behaviour are offered education first, then disciplinary action or even release if misconduct persists.
  • Extremists and racists feel too uncomfortable and unwelcome to join or stay in the Defence Team.
  • Defence Team leaders take steps to ensure that their briefings can be heard and seen by everyone, using tools such as assistive technology for individuals who are visually or hearing impaired.
  • Defence Team transgender members are comfortable to be themselves at all times.
  • Battle honours on unit flags reflect recognition of a combatant unit's active participation in battle against a formed and armed enemy, not on Indigenous Peoples’ unceded lands in Canada.
  • Silver Cross Mothers become Silver Cross Parents, because all parents – be they mothers, fathers, grandparents or guardians – feel the pain of losing a child in service to their country.
  • All fathers take parental leave for the birth of their child. Yes, all.
  • Indigenous communities are partners in the Defence Team’s mission.
  • Black people use their strength and resiliency to achieve their potential, not to fight daily racial microaggressions.

These milestones are only thought starters, aimed at enticing the Defence Team to create its own vision given that culture change is so much more significant and powerful when it comes from within the team. Visionary leaders should be asking themselves “If we had the kind of culture we aspire to, what kinds of new behaviours would be common, and which ingrained behaviours would be eliminated?” Furthermore, these reflective leaders would also be forward-thinking, asking themselves "What are we doing today that we will be ashamed of in 5, 10 or 20 years?"

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