Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada
Letter on Implementation of the Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion

Summer 2021 update

An Initial Response to the Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion

I am pleased to provide a summary of the important actions undertaken at the Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada (ATSSC) in response to the Clerk’s Call to Action in January 2021. While several efforts were already underway at the ATSSC to build a diverse workforce and an inclusive work environment when the call to action was issued, it helped further highlight the importance of this work for our employees and for the Canadians we serve through the administrative tribunals we support. Our overall achievements and progress to date are outlined in four key themes presented below, which represent initial steps in the organization’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion.

1. Building a foundation for diversity and inclusion

As a young organization created in November 2014, a key initial priority for the ATSSC was to establish a solid people-management infrastructure to support the organization’s mandate, and this included completing foundational work on employment equity and diversity. This step was critical to understand the organization’s issues and to help identify any remedial actions that would be required.

To this end, the ATSSC has completed a number of employment system reviews since 2019 in key areas such as voluntary and involuntary terminations, performance management and training and hiring, the results of which did not reveal any systemic barriers in the ATSSC’s practices. Further, the ATSSC also analyzed the responses from designated group members in annual Public Service Employee Surveys, and these suggested that these employees were generally as satisfied with the organization as employees that did not belong to a designated group.

However, as the observations and insights from the Public Service Commission’s Employment Equity Audit, the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Centre for Diversity and Inclusion and various interdepartmental networks clearly signaled, further progress on diversity and inclusion is required in the public service’s management practices. In response, in May 2021, the ATSSC endorsed its 2021-22 diversity workplan—a list of key activities informed by best practices. Notably, this workplan will culminate in the development of a principle-based multi-year action plan. Key elements of the ATSSC’s diversity workplan for 2021-22 are outlined further on in this letter.

2. Giving equity-seeking employees a voice and empowering them to help shape our future

In response to racially motivated incidents and anti-racism protests that occurred across the globe in the summer of 2020, and to ensure that the organization effectively addresses the challenges that equity-seeking groups continue to experience, the ATSSC created a dedicated Diversity Network to give its employees a voice. Led by the ATSSC Champion for Diversity, the network, which seeks participants from all levels and areas of the organization, was established in December 2020 and serves as a consultative body on initiatives being implemented or considered to address diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The network is also empowered to propose initiatives and organize events in a way that resonates with the needs of equity-seeking groups.

Discussions held within the network highlighted the ongoing challenges that some employees face in belonging to minority groups and the hesitation they have to speak out openly. Concerns of being judged or being negatively impacted for expressing issues is a challenge that the organization is actively striving to overcome by working to create a safe space for employees belonging to equity-seeking groups. The network continues to evolve and grow and played a key role in determining the organization’s overall approach for diversity and inclusion by identifying the activities that will be implemented at the ATSSC in 2021-22. Going forward, the network will be relied upon considerably for ideas, suggestions and comments on the development of the organization’s multi-year plan.

3. Creating awareness through opportunities for dialogue

Education and awareness are two critical areas of focus identified by the ATSSC Diversity Network, “without which there cannot be any meaningful or sustainable progress,” as one member said. To this end, an all-staff townhall meeting on anti-racism was held in March 2021 to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Organized by the Diversity Network, the townhall discussion—entitled Let’s Talk Racism—was led by Farah Boisclair, the Director of the Anti-Racism Taskforce at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Key topics explored included privilege, micro-aggressions and key interventions and participants, totaling nearly 15% of the ATSSC workforce, were engaged in a dialogue throughout the event. This townhall was held following another well-received all-staff event in February 2021 entitled ATSSC Beyond2020. Organized by the ATSSC’s Beyond 2020 Working Group, the event featured a panel that included the ATSSC champions for Diversity, Indigenous Awareness, Gender-Based Analysis+, and Accessibility.

To further encourage awareness, the organization also subscribed to the services of the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, which provides ATSSC employees with access to a vast repository of research, reports and tools as well as numerous webinars and trainings on various diversity topics. Additionally, the ATSSC encourages staff to complete the organization’s Diversity Accreditation Program, which requires employees to take three diversity-related courses of their choice offered by the Canada School of Public Service. Of note, managers are also encouraged to discuss the key takeaways from these courses during staff meetings to help spark a dialogue.

We are pleased to say that the importance of increasing awareness and education on diversity matters is resonating with ATSSC leaders. For example, the Secretariat to the Social Security Tribunal encourages its staff to participate in a training curriculum entitled 4 Seasons of Reconciliation offered by the First Nations University of Canada.

4. Enhancing HR management programs and services

To make sustainable progress on its commitment to diversity and inclusion—which at the ATSSC means to build a workforce that is representative of the Canadians we serve and to create a work environment that enables staff to bring their very best selves to the workplace—the organization has begun adjusting its people management programs and services to make them more inclusive based on best practices identified in literature and/or implemented by other governmental and non-governmental organizations. Examples of practices implemented include the following:

Looking forward

While much has been accomplished regarding diversity, equity, and inclusiveness at the ATSSC in its short period of existence, many more challenges lie ahead and the organization is eager to implement the ambitious, but necessary diversity workplan it has established for 2021-22.

To support the organization’s goal of being representative of the Canadians we serve, senior management has endorsed the following actions:

To make significant progress in creating a work environment that enables staff to bring their very best selves to the workplace, senior management approved a number of key activities, including:

In closing, I would like to thank you and your leadership team for the challenge given to all federal government departments and organizations to make meaningful progress in the public service on diversity and inclusion. The ATSSC is committed to doing its part—the Canadians we serve deserve nothing but our very best.

Yours sincerely,

Orlando Da Silva, LSM
Chief Administrator

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