Department of Finance Canada
Letter on Implementation of the Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion

Summer 2021 update

Dear Janice,

The Department of Finance is fully committed to implementing the Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion. I appreciate this opportunity to outline the progress we have achieved over the past year in undertaking the specific and meaningful actions that it entails.

The Department of Finance’s Anti-Racism Committee (ARC), formed in 2020 as a grassroots initiative, focuses on the reality of systemic racism within our institutional setting. In November 2020, our Chief Financial Officer was appointed as the Departmental Anti-Racism Champion. In January 2021, the Champion and ARC members began work to develop an Action Plan that focuses on two measures from the 2020/2021 DM Commitments on Diversity and Inclusion:

I am pleased to share this action plan with you. It was developed by a large, diverse group of employees of the Department. It has been recently endorsed unanimously by the Department of Finance’s Executive Committee. The plan anchors the Department’s anti-racism efforts, and begins an important organizational dialogue on systemic racism. For example, the Action Plan identifies the need to support the career development of Black people and members of other racialized groups, Indigenous Peoples, as well as persons with disabilities. It outlines several necessary initiatives to do so, such as implementing a mentorship/sponsorship program and ensuring that talent and performance management are culturally sensitive and free of systemic barriers.

The Action Plan is an ambitious start at building the Department of Finance as a workplace that fully respects and celebrates diversity in all its forms. We recognize that we cannot undertake all of the actions at once and are working to prioritize those activities we need to move forward immediately in order to ensure employees see tangible change and recognize the seriousness with which we approach this important work. This does not mean that we have not been busy. I would like to take this opportunity to outline some of our recent achievements.

Shining a Spotlight on Difficult Subjects

While ARC’s initial work has focused on developing and socializing the Action Plan, it also plays a role in fostering an inclusive organizational culture. In this capacity, ARC hosts difficult conversations following events such as the death of George Floyd and other violence against Black Americans and Canadians, anti-Asian violence in our communities, and the on-going legacy of Indian Residential Schools in Canada. ARC also consistently champions inter-culturally effective internal communications within Finance on these same topics.

Working Collaboratively within the Broader Community

ARC actively participates at interdepartmental tables, lending strategic leadership and gleaning best practices from collaborators across the federal family. It then integrates these learnings within the Department’s overall approach to public service renewal. In doing so, ARC builds strong internal relationships that support the delivery of the Action Plan. Our Champion has also contributed to these conversations, actively pushing for information to be shared to avoid duplication of effort and maximize all organizations’ abilities to move forward in building a truly diverse and inclusive public service.

Recruiting to Build a More Diverse Department of Finance

Our departmental Human Resources (HR) team is a key partner with ARC in addressing systemic racism and institutional discrimination. Our Department’s annual University Recruitment (UR) campaign accounts for the majority of Finance’s new hires from outside the public service. The 2020-2021 campaign benefitted from efforts to focus the recruitment process on building a more diverse and representative workforce at Finance, which included purposeful unconscious bias training for all HR advisors and hiring managers involved.  Results indicate that 80% of our new hires self-identified with one or more equity-seeking groups, and appointments are still ongoing. Our HR team will continue to review and update our staffing policies and practices to ensure we continue to build an increasingly diverse workforce. To assist, ARC has been working closely with HR to dissect how the traditional approach to UR may have unintentionally exacerbated racial bias to ensure that we do not inadvertently reproduce these biases going forward. I look forward to seeing how the UR campaign continues to evolve in the years to come.

I want to stress that this is just the beginning of the Department’s work on combatting racism and discrimination. Even more significant progress lies ahead. Moving forward, we will to continue to refine, socialize, and put ARC’s Action Plan into place.

Finance’s ARC currently consists of 40 volunteer members, meeting on a weekly basis, addressing anti-racism above and beyond their regular workloads. There are advantages to such active grassroots membership as, among other things, their participation embeds a strong ‘nothing about us without us’ approach within the Department’s anti-racism efforts. This is crucial for meaningful progress and injects momentum and authenticity into the work.

While I am encouraged and grateful to see the willingness to address inequities, I am also cognizant of the risks inherent in this approach. The burden of the work currently falls disproportionately on the shoulders of those who already experience the impacts of racism. As we move from developing an Action Plan to implementing one, my management team and I will continue to monitor this situation closely.

I believe the actions that I have outlined here represent real progress towards building a diverse, equitable and inclusive Department of Finance. I also recognize the need to maintain the momentum of this work in order to ensure a sense of belonging and trust for all public servants, regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation or gender expression. I look forward to your continued leadership as we work together to advance these efforts.


Michael Sabia
Deputy Minister of the Department of Finance

Department of Finance Anti-Racism Action Plan


Area of Focus




Performance Indicators

Establish a culture of inclusiveness that values diversity, combats racism, and addresses systemic barriers; and

Engage in dialogue that will de-stigmatize discussions on racism and systemic barriers.

Engagement of senior officials

Ensure all executives complete anti-racism and unconscious bias training by March 31, 2021.

  • Require all EXs at FIN to complete the Understanding Unconscious Bias CSPS training course (W005) by March 31, 2021.
  • Develop a training plan and/or resource list for executives to supplement mandatory training.
  • Provide quarterly updates on the Anti-Racism Committee’s (ARC) work to the Management Advisory Committee (ask committee members to provide updates; ask senior management to proactively problem solve to address any frictions in meeting objectives).
  • Greater awareness and understanding of systemic racism within the department and the experiences of employees of colour.
  • Start the conversation with Executives about unconscious biases in the workplace and understanding the biases that they might have.
  • Executives understand their role in fostering an anti-racist workplace.
  • Employees of colour feel heard and are heard within the organization.
  • Rate of completion (training)
  • Knowledge transfer/gain (post-training survey of executives)
  • Retention of employees of colour
  • Employees of colour leaving the department for promotions or other professional opportunities rather than at-level appointments (i.e., leaving for opportunities, rather than leaving due to a bad experience)
  • Executives are aware of committee activities (ascertained via surveys)
  • Employees receive regular updates of committee activities from Executives

Create additional learning opportunities for executives.

Build regular communication links between executive team and committee.

Create opportunities for all executives to collectively understand and reflect upon the experiences of Black people, other people who belong to groups that are racialized, Indigenous Peoples within the organization.

  • Anonymous survey, or focus group with current employees (or exit interviews with employees that have left the department) to collect the experiences of people of colour within the organization, and treat as data to better understand reasons for departures.
  • Recommend resources to senior management, and facilitate a discussion afterwards.

All executives demonstrate the anti-racism knowledge and capacities needed to support employees that belong to communities that experience racialization within the workplace. 

  • Facilitate conversation and/or survey senior management.
  • Gain senior management feedback about their learning needs in relation to their roles in fostering an anti-racist and more inclusive workplace;
  • Provide Executives with tools, resources and information they need by creating a FAW one-pager.
  • Understand the gaps in tools, training and resources for Executives to support employees of colour and foster an anti-racist workplace.
  • Executives feel like they have the knowledge and tools to better support employees of colour and support other employees in understanding their role in fostering an anti-racist workplace.
  • The rate at which managers participate in conversations and surveys

Awareness-raising through dialogue

Create learning opportunities for all staff around anti-racism, from an organizational perspective (i.e., how we recruit and retain), as well as at the policy-level (i.e., how we incorporate an anti-racist lens into policies and programs, similar to the Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) process).

  • Host a FIN Idea Hub to provide opportunities to apply intersectional lens and anti-racism framework related to a policy issue that may mean differential impacts on the Canadian population (i.e., payday loans, COVID response measures, examples from recent GBA+ files).
  • Leverage work of other government departments around the development and application of an anti-racist lens, particularly the AR Framework being developed by the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat at PCH, and any corresponding training by CSPS.
  • Anti-racist lens applied in the work that we do and in hiring/retention practices.
  • Employees of colour feel heard and are heard within the organization.
  • All employees. understand their role in fostering an anti-racist workplace and feel like they have the knowledge and tools to support this outcome.
  • Number of sessions, attendance, level of engagement in conversation
  • Informal discussions with selected participants to gauge their thoughts on the session(s); chronicle and qualitatively measure impact, and compare it to results over time

Engage the department on the work of the committee, how it envisions meeting the objectives related to the DM Commitments, and how it intends to measure success.

  • Establish a network of Anti-Racism Ambassadors in each Branch, including a message from the DM and Anti-Racism Champion, and communications outside the info-site.
  • Employees understand and know about the committee’s work (pulse survey)

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