Defence Advisory Groups
Defence Advisory Groups (DAGs) contribute to employment equity objectives and enhance diversity across both the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). Senior Defence Team leadership regularly consult with the DAGs to develop policies and programs to ensure a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive organization.
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What are DAGs?
At their core, DAGs are employment equity advisory groups of serving CAF military members and DND public service employees who provide grassroots insight, advice, and recommendations to Defence Team leadership. Although DND/CAF initially established DAGs in 1994 to support the implementation of the Employment Equity Act, their growth and expansion over the years has uniquely contributed to helping the Defence Team achieve positive employment equity outcomes and foster a more diverse and inclusive work environment.
At the policy and program level, DAGs:
- Assist with identifying systemic employment barriers
- Provide unique perspectives to affect change
- Directly advise both local and national leadership on issues that adversely affect their communities
Who are the members of the DAGs?
DAGs are made up of dedicated and passionate volunteers who set aside time from their normal duties to represent their communities and to be a strong voice for historically marginalized groups within the Defence Team.
Defence Team members organize and run the DAGs. DAGs operate at the national and local level. At the national level, there is a military member and a public service employee co-chair for each DAG. There are also Local Co-Chairs across Canada and abroad at the base and wing level. The membership elects National Co-Chairs to represent their concerns directly with senior leadership, including the Deputy Minister and Chief of the Defence Staff, and the large network of Defence Team Champions.
Without the dedication and commitment of the DAG members, the Defence Team would not have been able to evolve over the years to be more representative of Canada and the people we serve.
What do DAGs do?
As integral members across the Defence Team, DAG members elevate observations or concerns of their communities through their organization for senior leadership to consider and act upon. These concerns can range from unique issues affecting a particular base or wing, to national level issues, including policies or programs that potentially disadvantage their represented communities.
As outlined in the DND/CAF Employment Equity Program, the official mandate of the DAGs includes providing advice on the following:
- Developing policies, procedures, and mechanisms to support fair and equitable recruitment, retention and training
- Developing and implementing employment equity and diversity initiatives, including dress standards, equipment purchase, leave policies, and mentorship programs
- Developing and implementing outreach initiatives and actions plans, including liaising with external communities, participating in academic research, and being members of key working groups and committees
Although providing individual advocacy does not fall within the mandate of the DAGs, CAF members and DND employees come to the DAGs as a trusted source to share concerns and perspectives. As a close community, DAG members listen, discuss and ultimately share what they hear or learn with DND/CAF leadership.
Why are DAGs important?
DAGs provide the crucial information and perspectives that leaders need to consider before making decisions that affect our workplace.
The Minister of National Defence Advisory Panel on Systemic Racism and Discrimination - Final Report (2022) recognized the contributions of the DAGs and described them as "powerful voices for change and growth". The Panel made a series of recommendations to elevate the voices of those with lived experiences, especially the DAGs, to help identify barriers and solutions. Additionally, the Report of the Independent External Comprehensive Review (2022) stated "DAGs are essential agents of change; their presence on the ground and their regular engagement with their communities give them a unique perspective on issues affecting CAF members and DND employees."
To operationalize the recommendations from both reports and better enable the DAGs and their critical advisory function, DND/CAF have been investing considerable resources in the DAGs. For example, DND/CAF has
- enhanced funding to enable increased consultation and networking
- established a dedicated and fulltime DAG Secretariat to support the volunteer National and Local Co-Chairs.
What groups do DAGs represent?
There is a DAG for each of the designated groups identified in the Employment Equity Act: women, Indigenous people, persons with disabilities, and visible minorities. In 2020, DND/CAF established a fifth DAG to represent 2SLGBTQI+ members.
Defence Indigenous Advisory Group (DIAG)
The DIAG represents Indigenous CAF members and DND public service employees. Members of the DIAG share information with the Defence Team on Indigenous issues, provide advice on how CAF/DND policies and programs affect Indigenous members, and help promote successful interactions between the CAF/DND and Indigenous people across the country.
To contact the DIAG National Co-Chairs, email P-OTG.DIAG-GCAD@intern.mil.ca (only accessible through DWAN)
Defence Visible Minority Advisory Group (DVMAG)
The DVMAG represents the visible minority communities within the Defence Team. Members of DVMAG enable dialogue between and among the Defence Team members and personnel who belong to a visible minority. They share their unique insights with leadership about issues affecting visible minorities’ access to employment equity and the negative impacts of lingering discrimination and racism within the organization.
To contact the DVMAG National Co-Chairs, email P-OTG.DVMAG-GCDMV@intern.mil.ca (only accessible through DWAN)
Defence Women's Advisory Organization (DWAO)
The DWAO represents women in the Defence Team. Members of DWAO provide advice on how to dismantle barriers to the full inclusion of women in the Defence Team and how to address issues and policies that may be discriminatory on the basis of sex or gender.
To contact the DWAG National Co-Chairs, email P-OTG.DWAO-OCFD@intern.mil.ca (only accessible through DWAN)
Defence Advisory Group for Persons with Disabilities (DAGPWD)
The DAGPWD represents persons who have a long-term or recurring physical, mental, sensory, psychiatric, or learning impairment that may cause them to be disadvantaged at work. Members of the DAGPWD provide advice to Defence Team leadership on barriers that prevent an equitable representation of persons with disabilities and recommend relevant policy and procedural changes.
To contact the DAGPWD National Co-Chairs, email P-OTG.DAGPWD-GCDPH@intern.mil.ca (only accessible through DWAN)
Defence Team Pride Advisory Organization (DTPAO)
DTPAO represents 2SLGBTQI+ communities within the Defence Team. Members of the DTPAO provide advice and guidance to senior leadership on how to address, prevent and combat systemic discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender diversity.
To contact the DTPAO National Co-Chairs, email NationalDTPAO-OCFeDNationale@forces.gc.ca.
How to join a DAG
All CAF members and DND public service employees, regardless of their ethnicity, gender, orientation, disability, age, or background, are welcome to join any DAG. The primary criteria for joining a DAG is being committed to the principles of employment equity, diversity, and inclusion.
For more information about the DAGs, please contact DAGSecretariat-SecretariatGCD@forces.gc.ca (only accessible through DWAN)
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