Call to Action forward direction message to deputies


As Head of the Public Service, I see the work being undertaken to tackle racism and to advance reconciliation, accessibility, equity, and inclusion within our organizations as fundamental to building a strong public service that is set up to deliver for Canadians. This work is at the core of who we are as a public service. A key component of this is implementing the objectives of the Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity, and Inclusion in the Federal Public Service.   

Many public servants continue to answer the Call to Action. Thank you for your leadership on this priority. We are making progress, but the transformational change required to realize the full vision of the Call to Action demands that we do much more.  

Fortunately, we know how to structure ourselves to deliver on priorities in the public service. We set goals, measure progress, and hold ourselves to account. The Call to Action must be treated in the same way.     

This means setting clear multi-year goals for recruiting and promoting Indigenous peoples and Black and other racialized people. To make sure everyone is set up for success as they enter and advance in our organizations, we need to create a deep sense of inclusion, respect, and belonging in our workplaces. For that reason, I am also expecting the establishment of multi-year goals to foster greater inclusion.     

To make sure that we are on track, we must frequently measure progress on both inclusion and representation goals with a view to achieving year-over-year improvements that are tangible and meaningful. There should be regular discussions at management tables at all levels in your organizations. Be open and bold about communicating both on progress and challenges with employees.     

We have accountability mechanisms that we will use for the Call to Action. Building tangible commitments into executive performance agreements and holding individuals accountable for when results are not achieved will be an important step forward. I will be doing this for Deputies and expect the same for all executives. 

Ultimately, this will be about tackling persistent systemic barriers—some embedded in our processes and practices, others within our mindsets and behaviours. This will require making real adjustments to longstanding ways of doing things. As we undertake change, centre the work on the lived experiences of employees who face the barriers we are working to dismantle.     

Instructions to support effective and consistent implementation are below. I trust you will bring these to life in meaningful ways that not only reflect your organizational context, but that take a distinctions-based approach for Indigenous employees and fully recognize the specific realities of all racialized groups. It is important to further appreciate that many employees are part of multiple communities, which underlines the importance of deeply understanding the intersectional nature of identities.   

We have heard from employee networks and communities about specific, tangible actions that can make meaningful change. Below is a small list of actions for your immediate implementation: 

I will be following up on these specific items to ensure that they have been implemented.

As we move forward on achieving the objectives of the Call to Action, commensurate effort must be placed on fostering all forms of inclusion in the workplace. Take the opportunity to bolster strategies such as Many Voices One Mind: A Pathway to Reconciliation and Nothing Without Us: An Accessibility Strategy for the Public Service of Canada. 

Employee networks and communities within your organizations, along with anti-racism secretariats will have more ideas that can be put into action. I have heard from many networks and communities in response to the Call to Action open letters you shared with me on the need to better engage them in the design and implementation of activities and on progress reported. I expect this to be done as we move forward.   

But, the responsibility for change must be taken up beyond employee networks, anti-racism secretariats, and human resources. Engage your full executive team, including your Chief Data Officer, your Head of Audit and Evaluation, and your Head of Communications, each of whom holds valuable perspectives and expertise in advancing this forward direction.   

Make no mistake that this is not easy work, but it is our imperative to tackle racism and build an inclusive public service to allow employees to achieve their full potential. Our public service will be most effective when our voices and experiences reflect the full diversity of Canada’s populations we serve. 

I look forward to continuing to benefit from the perspectives and leadership of employee networks and communities, and to hearing about your tangible efforts.

Janice Charette
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet

Implementing the Call to Action forward direction

The following is a set of instructions to help you and your organizations set goals, measure progress, and establish consequential accountability, along with some overarching drivers of success. 

As you implement this approach within your organizations, central agencies and enabling departments will establish common tools and supports across the public service based on identified needs.

Set goals

Measures such as work force availability and labour market availability can be valuable to help inform goals. But our ultimate objective is reflecting those we serve and providing an inclusive, safe, and respectful workplace for all employees. Factors such as your geographic region, your mission or mandate, organizational culture, or type of programs and services offered will be important considerations as we work towards this objective. 

Goals can be set at the organizational level, but you are encouraged to look deeply into your organizations and set specific goals for areas where you need to significantly advance the greatest change, whether that is a functional community, region, branch, or other area.

Working towards meeting your goals will require employees having access to learning and development opportunities, such as official language training, acting assignments, sponsorship from senior leaders, and leadership development programs, so they are set up for success in their career path.

I am asking you to:   

Measure progress

Measuring progress helps us understand the effectiveness of our efforts and identify areas where there are barriers in our practices and processes. It also provides tangible evidence of our successes and challenges us to continue pushing forward.

Establish consequential accountability

I expect that our executive performance and talent management processes will be used to affect change.

Goals must be placed in individual performance management agreements.

Progress towards and achievement of established goals will form part of the ongoing and year-end assessment of executive performance and directly inform individual talent management considerations.

Drivers of success

To make progress on this direction forward, there are a number of key factors to incorporate:

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