International Joint Commission
Letter on Implementation of the Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion

Summer 2021 update

The International Joint Commission (IJC) is a binational organization established by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909, with offices in Ottawa, Ontario, Washington, D.C. and a regional office in Windsor, Ontario. The Canadian Section of the organization, located in Ottawa, is part of the Core Public Administration as set out in Schedule IV of the Financial Administration Act. The Commission’s Canadian employees are employed under the Public Service Employment Act.

Working closely with our United States’ colleagues, the International Joint Commission as a whole has taken steps to address diversity as a binational organization. For instance, the Commission engages boards and task forces to implement its mandate across the boundary, and these boards are composed of public servants from both the United States and Canada, other experts in transboundary water issues, members of the general public, and Indigenous, Métis, and First Nation members. The Commission, on April 23, 2018, adopted its own IJC Diversity Policy for Board Appointments (Annex A) in order to promote diversity on its boards, and to ensure that the voices of its diverse members are welcome and heard. The IJC continues to work to ensure that it and its boards are diverse, open, welcoming, and free from bias. And notably, one of the three Canadian commissioners (all GIC appointees) is from a First Nation.

Nonetheless, the Call to action on anti-racism, equity, and inclusion in the Federal Public Service provides an additional opportunity for the Canadian Section of the IJC to reflect on our past efforts to promote anti-racism, equity, and inclusion within our organization, and to meaningfully assess our results. In recent years, the Canadian Section has strived to ensure its hiring practices are non-discriminatory and to foster a workplace culture that is welcoming, inclusive of diverse perspectives, and free from bias. We have identified several areas for improvement, outlined below, that we have already begun to act upon. 

Accordingly, the Canadian Section will ensure that hiring managers are made aware of candidates who self-declare, and future assessments of candidates will have an equity, diversity, and inclusion component. With this in mind, the following language has been added to our most recent poster for a new Director of Science and Engineering, and will be added to all future posters for positions with the Canadian Section: “The IJC is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in our workplace. Equity-seeking groups, including women, Indigenous peoples, members of visible minorities, and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply.”

In addition, the Canadian Section’s Integrated Business and Human Resources Plan will be updated in light of the Call to Action to address the underrepresentation of visible minorities within the Canadian Section. The Canadian Section, which has always valued employee training, will also encourage staff, in light of the Call to Action, to prioritize training that includes an equity, diversity and inclusion component. The mandatory training for managers on unconscious bias will be a pillar of the Canadian Section’s efforts in this regard.

As a relatively small organization, evaluating progress towards addressing the underrepresentation in the Canadian Section is sometimes a challenge. We will, however, continue to engage with other departments and agencies, particularly other micro-organizations, so we can continue to learn and benefit from their experiences, and ensure we continue to improve.

As Deputy Head for the Canadian Section, I have personally committed to learning about racism, reconciliation, accessibility, equity and inclusion, as set out in the Call to Action, and I have encouraged all of our employees to do the same. This is a matter of great personal importance for me, and I will continue to ensure that equity, diversity, and inclusion are priorities for the Canadian Section.


Pierre Béland
Chair, Canadian Section
International Joint Commission

Annex A - IJC diversity policy for board appointments

The Guiding Principles of the International Joint Commission provide that “The Commission seeks to ensure the inclusion of appropriate expertise in the membership of its boards, while drawing that expertise from a diversity of sources on a non-discriminatory basis.”

The International Joint Commission values diversity and the benefits it can bring to its boards, committees and work groups. The Commission is committed to a merit based system for board composition within a diverse and inclusive culture that solicits multiple perspectives and views and is free of conscious or unconscious bias and discrimination. The skills and backgrounds collectively represented on any Commission board should reflect the diverse nature of the environment in which the board operates. To the extent practically achievable, a 50-50 gender equality is ideally sought by the Commission in all of its boards. For purposes of board composition, diversity includes, but is not limited to, age, gender, ethnicity, race, aboriginal status, sexual orientation or disability. 

Every search for prospective qualified board members will include an affirmative effort to identify and recruit qualified diverse candidates. In seeking nominations for membership on its boards, the Commission shall provide a copy of this policy to each nominating organization and urge the organization to take diversity into account when identifying a nominee. Responsible IJC staff members must be able to demonstrate outreach efforts that have been made to take diversity into consideration when nominating qualified potential board members. 

Approved: April 23, 2018

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