Impact Assessment Agency of Canada
Letter on Implementation of the Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion

Summer 2021 update

Dear Janice Charette:

This letter comes to you from the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe People, whom I would like to thank for being stewards of the land since time immemorial. This acknowledgment guides the Agency’s work to increase awareness, foster reconciliation and eliminate systemic racism, discrimination and harassment not only at the Agency but also throughout the public service.

Thank you for the opportunity to share the work that the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (the Agency) has accomplished since the release of the Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion in the Federal Public Service. Thank you as well for continuing the important work that Ian Shugart called upon us to do; we agree that the time to act to advance anti-racism, equity and inclusion is indeed now.

Since the Call to Action, the Agency has made significant changes to how it approaches anti-racism, equity and inclusion work. Namely, we have empowered employee networks, enhanced collaboration with these networks, and developed a robust three-year Employment Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EEDI) Action Plan that is significantly informed by individuals from equity-deserving groups, through a bottom up consultative approach. By collaborating and consulting with employee networks, and through invitations to all staff to provide input, we have produced a well-informed and ambitious roadmap for a more inclusive, equitable and diverse workplace.

Our EEDI Action Plan has over 30 attainable actions that are designed to:

  1. improve the representation of Canada’s workforce at all levels of the Agency;
  2. combat racism, bias, discrimination and other barriers to inclusion in the workplace; and
  3. increase education and awareness of the diversity of lives and experiences that exist in Canada

Employee networks and education

Although we are at the early stages of implementing the plan, we have begun seeing concrete results. Last year saw the creation of the Indigenous Employees’ Circle, a grassroots network for the Agency’s Indigenous employees. Since then, the we also facilitated the creation of other employee-led safe space groups, including networks for staff who identify as visible minorities, women, LGBTQ+, allies, and persons with disabilities. The Agency's EEDI Team (based out of Human Resources) has supported these networks by providing them with necessary resources and coordinating discussions between these networks and senior management.

Building connections and enhancing dialogue through these networks is helping to improve overall cultural competence and awareness of issues at the Agency. Employees are more empowered at the Agency to now speak up and share their views and experiences related to bias and oppression. Over the last year, several employees have written articles (shared through our intranet site) presenting personal reflections, stories and lived-experiences around racism, bias and reconciliation. Various staff members have also volunteered to organize and host Agency-wide well-attended virtual events over the past year for Black History Month, Indigenous History Month, Pride season, and Asian Heritage Month. Both managers and employees across the Agency have expressed that these articles and events have contributed to better understand and address societal and systemic issues.

Collaborative action

Beyond employee networks, the Agency is also fostering EEDI conversations and planning through our monthly EEDI committee meetings. These meetings are attended by the Diversity and Inclusion Champion and Co-Champion, the EEDI team in HR, and a diverse group of employees (from across all regions and sectors of the Agency) who participate in the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Together with the employee networks, these groups identify systemic racism, discrimination and barriers to inclusion, and guide the design and implementation of actions to address them. Over the last year, much of this collective effort has focused on building and refining the EEDI Action Plan.

To affirm EEDI as a top priority for all Agency staff, the Agency’s senior leadership team is taking important steps to enhancing our culture of respect and inclusion. In the past months, I personally signed an Anti-Racism Pledge, which includes a commitment to learn about racism, reconciliation, accessibility, equity and inclusion, and ways to foster a safe, open and positive environment. The invitation to sign the pledge was also completed by our entire executive team. The Agency’s senior management has also participated in several mandatory EEDI training opportunities, two of which dealt specifically with leading inclusively and identifying and eliminating unconscious bias.

Recruitment and career development

On the priority of improving representation at the Agency—the Agency has recently increased representation at the executive level and aims to improve representation at all levels over the coming years. In the last year, the Agency appointed and promoted high-performing Black, Indigenous, and racialized individuals to the Executive Group. Our efforts to recruit highly qualified candidates from Indigenous, Black and other racialized communities and persons with disabilities from across all regions of Canada include accessing existing targeted external pools of applicants. More recently, we created an application inventory for equity-deserving candidates that have already qualified in other employment pools.

With regard to sponsoring high-potential Indigenous, Black and other racialized employees and persons with disabilities to prepare them for leadership roles, the Agency has fully implemented the Mentorship Plus program, which focuses on career development for members of equity-deserving groups. We currently have three mentors and three mentees taking advantage of this new initiative.

Indigenous, Black and other racialized employees are also able to join interdepartmental leadership development programs (for example, the Executive Leadership Development Program), however our actions for career development are in the early planning stages and we recognize there is more work to do to support equity-deserving staff at all levels. One positive step that we have taken—at the request of the Visible Minority Safe Space Group—is that we recently included equity-deserving groups as a priority group to participate in the Agency’s Official Languages Training Program. As a next step, we will work on applying an EEDI lens to the review of more programs across the Agency, such as the talent placement program for non-executives.

Measurement and results

While we do have more work to do on the EEDI front, we’re proud of what we have thus far been able to achieve. Over the last year, the Agency hosted 10 events that provided either anti-racism/anti-discrimination training or that promoted diversity in the workplace. We published and promoted approximately 64 communications products pertaining to racialized communities, religious minority communities and Indigenous Peoples. The Agency also helped to facilitate the creation of five employee network groups that met at least 15 times (total of meetings for all groups) over the past months.

Moving forward, one of the actions in the EEDI Action Plan is to take stock of where we are to measure progress and drive improvements in the employee workplace experience. However, the collection and analysis of employment equity data has been a challenge for the Agency. We are dedicating time and resources to have a better understanding of where we are in terms of representation, but the completion of self-id forms is voluntary.

Until all employees feel that they will not encounter additional harassment and discrimination by filling out the forms, it will be difficult to have the whole picture in terms of workforce representation and progress. We have found that the new EEDI-related questions in the Public Service Employee Survey have provided us with valuable information about employee experiences and opinions, and we have begun discussions within the EEDI Committee about this data.

Keeping up the momentum

The EEDI Team has done a fantastic job at building and sustaining momentum on EEDI work, and engaging employees to advance anti-racism. In addition to the EEDI Action Plan, the team has a comprehensive engagement plan to increase awareness of EEDI issues, and we are reviewing the Agency’s staffing plans with an eye to developing an EEDI staffing strategy.

Again, please accept my gratitude for the opportunity to share what our small but mighty Agency is accomplishing. Although progress has been made, we are conscious that we cannot stop and that more work is needed to build a diverse, equitable and inclusive Agency. We will continue to advance this objective together.

Yours sincerely,

David McGovern

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