Diversity and inclusion areas of focus for the public service

There is much work being done in support of a more diverse and inclusive public service. We’ve made important progress over the years. Yet, there is more work we must do for racialized groups, Indigenous peoples, and other groups who face barriers in the workplace. Members of these groups are more likely to be victims of harassment and discrimination, and less likely to be promoted to the most senior levels of the public service.

We want to create a public service culture that fosters inclusiveness, one where all public servants have a deep sense of belonging, and where we all embrace difference as a source of strength.

This work is as important as it is urgent. It is time to close the gaps and eliminate the barriers that remain, ensuring the public service is truly representative of the people it serves.

To foster greater diversity, inclusion and accessibility in the public service, we will focus on the following areas:

Generating and publishing data for a more accurate picture of representation gaps

Creating a thoroughly representative and inclusive workplace begins with having a public service that reflects the population it serves.

To get there, we first need a better sense of where we are. We are improving the availability and reliability of existing data, including the disaggregation of data on public service diversity. This data contributes to a more holistic picture of the experiences and representation of employment equity groups. It provides first-ever views into the composition of public service employees who self-identify in Employment Equity sub-groups such as Black or Métis. Along with the annual results of the Public Service Employee Survey (PSES), we will be able to identify more precisely where gaps remain and what actions we can take to improve representation.


  • Since 2019, the PSES has gathered information on the workforce at increasingly more detailed levels than before, including data disaggregated to the employment equity sub-group. Changes to the PSES are part of a larger effort towards gathering and publishing disaggregated data to have better awareness of the situation and experiences of diverse groups.
  • In fall 2020, the Government began releasing disaggregated datasets, providing first-ever views into the composition of public service employees who self-identify in Employment Equity sub-groups.
  • On April 15, TBS published an interactive data visualization tool to allow users to manipulate fields and parameters easily while accessing and visualizing human resources demographic and employment equity data.


Increasing the diversity of senior leaders of the public service

Departments, supported by the Treasury Board Secretariat, will work to increase diversity among senior leaders of the public service and establish a culture of inclusiveness that will combat racism and address systemic barriers. This includes increasing representation through promotion and recruitment and the introduction of the Mentorship Plus Program to allow departments to offer mentoring and sponsorship opportunities to high-potential employees who may currently face barriers.


  • The Mentorship Plus program launched in December 2020 and as of June 2021, is already seeing 34 federal organizations begin the process to implement the program.
  • The Management Development Program, launching in the fall of 2021, will prepare a cohort of leaders from under-represented groups to take on Executive positions.
  • Internal candidates are being identified through talent management, and recruitment firms have been engaged to help identify and refer Black and other racialized candidates, Indigenous candidates, and persons with disabilities, for consideration in succession planning for vacant ADM positions across the core public administration.


Ensuring the right benchmarks

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat will continue to work closely with partners, which includes supporting Employment and Social Development Canada on the review of the Employment Equity Act, to ensure that the public service applies appropriate benchmarks for diversity. Benchmarks are being used to guide the development of strategies that will strengthen diverse representation throughout the public service.

Addressing systemic barriers

The Treasury Board Secretariat has initiated discussions with key stakeholders about the framework for recruitment in the public service and is specifically looking at possible amendments to the Public Service Employment Act and the Employment Equity Act in support of the review planned by the Minister of Labour. A review of potential amendments to legislation may help us find ways to more effectively increase representation of equity-seeking groups in the public service.


  • Amendments to the Public Service Employment Act received Royal Assent on .  These amendments:
    • add an explicit commitment by the Government of Canada to a public service that represents Canada’s diversity
    • require that the establishment or review of qualification standards include an evaluation of bias and barriers and that reasonable mitigation efforts be made
    • require that the design and application of assessment methods include an evaluation of bias and barriers and that reasonable mitigation efforts be made
    • ensure that investigation and audit authorities encompass bias or barriers
    • expand the preference for Canadian citizens in staffing processes open to the public to include Permanent Residents
  • In the Fall Economic Statement 2020, the Government announced an investment of $6.6 million in 2021–22 to support a task force on renewing the Employment Equity Act, with a mandate to study, consult, and advise on how a renewed employment equity regime could be modernized. This task force is conducting engagement on renewing the Act.


Engagement and awareness

This work is underpinned by engagement with important stakeholders and increasing awareness about diversity and inclusion. There are many partners within and outside the public service who can help us focus on these priorities. To help coordinate our efforts, the newly created Centre on Diversity and Inclusion is co-developing initiatives with employees from the communities that continue to face barriers to representation and inclusion. The centre, supported by a budget of $12M outlined in the Federal Economic Statement, will leverage the lived experiences of public servants and key community stakeholder groups and foster an ongoing dialogue for positive change.

Progress will take time. But concrete steps in these areas will bring the public service close to its goal: to be a more accurate reflection of Canada and a model of inclusion for employers across the country and around the world.


  • The Centre on Diversity and Inclusion launched the Federal Speakers Forum in spring 2021 to feature the lived experience of public servants and help shift people’s mindsets and behaviours. It has recruited 27 speakers and is growing quickly with over a dozen speaking engagements booked across the public service.
  • An interdepartmental community of communications professionals has been formed to discuss leading practices and approaches and share challenges and successes in communicating effectively on diversity and inclusion. 

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