Spotlight on culture change initiatives for military personnel
March 28, 2022 - Defence Stories
Every member of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the Department of National Defence (DND) team is entitled to work in an environment of mutual respect, dignity and inclusion
Every member of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the Department of National Defence (DND) team is entitled to work in an environment of mutual respect, dignity and inclusion, where they have the opportunity to contribute and achieve their full potential. The Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture (CPCC) organization stood up in April 2021 to unify, inform and coordinate our efforts. This organization has established a framework for a more holistic approach to culture change by engaging directly with Defence Team members to ensure their lived experiences are reflected in priorities and initiatives. In fact, since October, 279 diverse consultation sessions were held across the Defence Team, totaling more than 435 hours and attracting nearly 9,000 participants.
While CPCC is leading culture change strategy, all organizations in DND/CAF are responsible for implementing culture change, and there is tremendous work underway across the organization. Here are some highlights of culture change initiatives from Chief of Military Personnel and Military Personnel Command that will have a positive impact on the lives of our military members and the overall DND workplace:
Recent Activities and Initiatives
- Recently, a Training Needs Assessment was conducted that primarily focused on sexual misconduct within the ranks and resulted in several recommendations to develop a holistic approach to address training and education requirements across the conduct spectrum. This will be a critical part of targeting and eliminating harmful behaviours from our institution, and will bolster the broader CAF culture change efforts.
- On March 4th, DND/CAF launched the Total Health and Wellness Strategy – a comprehensive strategy that focuses on improving the health and wellness of Defence Team members and promises a strengthened workforce, best able to meet professional and personal challenges. Over $950 million will be invested in new and existing health and wellness programs benefitting all Defence Team members.
- Gender-inclusive military ranks in French have been introduced, offering all members the option to describe themselves as they deem appropriate. The use of feminized ranks is optional, or administrative in nature, and is not at present reflected in the Queen’s Regulations and Orders.
- The sex designation on the military’s driver’s licence has been removed.
- Since March, CAF members have been permitted to wear nursing T-shirts while in uniform and they can now be reimbursed for these items. The CAF’s first Nursing and Pumping Policy provides CAF leaders the necessary guidance on inclusive practices with respect to nursing infants and requires all Commanding Officers to establish a lactation plan to support their members.
- The Director of Compensation and Benefits has introduced new sub-types of compassionate leave and short leave, in the Canadian Forces Leave Policy Manual. To help reduce personal and family stress, CAF members will be able to request compassionate leave in the tragic situations of pregnancy or adoption loss, as victims of family violence, or as parents of young victims of crime. Short leave may be requested for family-related situations and religious and spiritual accommodation.
- The CAF Employment Equity Plan (2021-26) will guide efforts to increase the representation, inclusion, and participation of under-represented groups, across all levels of the organization. Importantly, the CAF Employment Equity Plan holds L1s accountable in measurable ways, by laying out specific reporting questions that they must answer each reporting cycle, to see where they are meeting their goals, and where adjustments need to be made.
- Two key initiatives will improve CAF promotion selection processes: all scoring criteria (SCRIT) are now subject to a Gender Based Analysis (Plus) review to ensure that criteria do not adversely affect diverse groups within the organization, and the fall National Selection Boards now feature procedural improvements including bias awareness training and mandating that one voting member be from an equity seeking group.
- In fall 2021, the CAF took the first steps to introduce new rigour and science to our promotion selection process by adding psychometric assessments to the 2021 General Officer and Flag Officer selection boards and 360 degree assessments to those recommended to the Minister of National Defence for promotion or appointment to key positions.
Upcoming Activities and Initiatives
- The introduction of these changes to the selection-promotion process will accompany the upcoming implementation of the CAF’s new Performance and Competency Evaluation appraisal system (PaCE), which launches for most CAF members on April 1, 2022. PaCE is digital, built on over a decade of research, and is aligned with best practices in both industry and academia. It is a significant improvement over the current system in that it includes bias awareness training, contains score inflation (and deflation) control measures, and forces a more objective method with which to assess potential. PaCE will be the tool used to provide feedback and to measure inclusive behaviours from each CAF member (CF Mil Pers Instruction 003/21 – Inclusion and the Performance Appraisal Process).
- This spring, as part of the Duty with Honour renewal, the CAF will publish The CAF Ethos: Trusted to Serve. This renewal of the CAF Ethos includes core ethical principles such as recognizing and embracing the diversity of the team’s talents and perspectives, challenging unacceptable behaviour, and making the difficult but necessary decisions to support and champion cultural change across the organization.
- The upcoming Dress Instructions update will be an inclusive, single-standard for all and will focus on removing the barriers to members’ choice of clothing and other aspects of appearance, honouring the diversity of people in uniform, while continuing to prioritize operational effectiveness and safety.
- A recruiting modernization team will soon stand up to advance a comprehensive re-design of the CAF recruiting experience.
- On the training front, basic military training is being re-designed with a focus on building inclusive teams and enriching character, alongside resilience and military competencies.
- A new approach is being implemented to designing the qualification standards and training plans for the CAF’s leader development programmes, which includes ensuring expert input from a diverse range of practitioners as well as civilian experts on subjects such as gender, equity, diversity and inclusion.
- A CAF Retention Strategy is near completion, which aims to address dissatisfiers, remove barriers, and keep highly skilled individuals in uniform – thereby improving operational effectiveness.
- Building on excellence in team-based physical and mental health care delivery, Canadian Forces Health Services has developed and is working towards implementing a Person-Partnered Care Framework, This will provide ways and means of integrating health care providers with patients, their families and the Chains of Command as introduced in the Surgeon General Integrated Health Strategy. It will also help customize health care to the unique needs of a diverse CAF population.
The CAF is fully committed to creating a workplace that is welcoming, inclusive, safe and respectful – for every member of the Defence Team. This is how we will develop cohesive and inclusive teams and build our operational effectiveness. Culture change is essential to ensure increased operational effectiveness and to the reconstitution effort, as attraction, recruitment and retention are all directly linked to people feeling appreciated and welcome.
These initiatives are among just some of the work being done across the entire Defence Team to achieve lasting change, as DND/CAF continues to build an environment where all members feel supported by their organization, and are able to achieve their full potential.
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