DM/A-CDS message to the Defence Team regarding culture change
April 29, 2021 - Defence Stories
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The recent months have been difficult for many members of our Defence Team. You have shared your experiences of sexual misconduct, harassment, misogyny, racism, and discrimination that have occurred across our organization. Sadly, it is evident that these behaviours are rooted in an institutional culture that has allowed them to persist despite our effort to eliminate them. We have and will continue to listen. We share your disappointment.
This culture is unacceptable. You are demanding change – and you are right to do so.
Today, we are refocusing our efforts to eradicate all forms of improper conduct, discrimination, biases, harmful stereotypes and systemic barriers across Defence. This is not only about rebuilding your trust in leadership but rebuilding a Defence Team that is truly diverse, inclusive, and respectful of each and every one of its members.
We want to update you on two key measures being taken across Defence to bring about real change that aligns with the shared values and ethical principles we all aspire to uphold.
- A new Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture organization has been created to lead cultural transformation, and ensure that our behaviours reflect the very best parts of our organization, and Canadian society. This new Level 1 organization will be the functional authority and principal advisor to the Deputy Minister and Chief of Defence Staff on all matters related to professional conduct and culture in the Defence Team. We proudly welcome LGen Jennie Carignan to lead these efforts, which includes establishing a framework to achieve the following tasks:
- Realign responsibilities, policies and programs that address elements of systemic misconduct across DND and the CAF;
- Simplify and enhance misconduct reporting mechanisms,including for those external to the chain of command;
- Give greater agency to, and strengthen support mechanisms for those who have experienced misconduct, as well as other affected persons;
- Enhance tracking mechanisms from initial reports of misconduct to case closures and integrate additional data points such as intersectionality, reprisals, member satisfaction, and retention; and
- Lead institutional efforts to develop a professional conduct and culture framework that holistically tackles all types of harmful behaviour, unconscious biases, and systemic barriers.
LGen Carignan will be directly supported by an Assistant Deputy Minister who will lead a team inclusive of members comprised of all ranks and classifications and will emulate the diversity to which the Defence Team aspires. The Director General Professional Military Conduct and the Directorate of Gender Equality and Intersectional Analysis will become part of this organization to better align their work.
- A neutral and independent third-party external review will be undertaken to examine our current policies, procedures, programs, practices and culture across the organization. This review will inform our team on the causes for the continued presence of harassment and sexual misconduct despite our efforts to eradicate them; identify barriers to reporting inappropriate behavior; and assess the adequacy of the response when reports are made. This transparent review will be carried out independently of the Chain of Command and will be comprised of input from appropriate stakeholders. Recommendations and the related departmental responses on how we can better respond to, prevent and eradicate harassment and sexual misconduct will be reviewed and made publicly available. We fully support this examination and welcome a thorough review of our institution and our culture.
The profoundly damaging elements of our culture experienced by too many of you will not change on their own and the abovementioned measures represent only the first steps on the road before us. Change is a process, one of which will not be achieved overnight; it requires meaningful actions that are tangible, can be measured, and can be seen in our daily interactions with one another.
There is a shared willingness to break down old systems and forge new ones. We – and the entire DND/CAF leadership team – are committed to providing you with a workplace culture that better embodies the shared professional values and ethos that you not only expect but one that you are entitled to.
Most importantly, we will continue to listen to you; learn from you; and reconcile the wrongs of the past. This is how we hope to regain your trust, and rebuild a better Defence Team for all of us.
Deputy Minister of National Defence
LGen Wayne Eyre
Acting Chief of the Defence Staff
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