Prairies Economic Development Canada
Letter on Implementation of the Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion

Summer 2021 update

Dear Mrs. Charette:

Over the course of the last 18 months, Canadians were faced with the scope of racism and discrimination in Canada and around the world. Collectively, we at Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), knew that we could do better and that it was time to take additional meaningful action for our workforce and the population we serve.

In response to the Call to Action, my executive team and I identified three primary areas of action within WD: anti-racism and bias awareness training for our executives, reviewing and ensuring that hiring processes are culturally sensitive and free of barriers to appointment, and partnering with equity-seeking communities to attract and retain new talent that reflects Canada’s diversity.

I am proud to say that all executives at WD participated in a learning and development session on January 28, 2021. During this session, executives discussed racism, bias, our leadership roles, and how we can collectively sustain a healthy, diverse workplace. Every executive walked away better for it.

Our Human Resources unit has begun reviewing our recruitment processes to identify barriers in recruitment practices for members of equity seeking groups. We still have work to do in this space, as we are embarking on consultations with equity seeking organizations to make sure that adjustments to our processes reflect the needs of these various communities. We are committed to reducing barriers with actions that reflect the needs of the population to directly support recruitment and retention of diverse talent. Finally, working with local equity seeking organizations to support recruitment efforts, we have increased our ability to recruit talent and gained a better perspective on barriers and effective supports for recruitment and retention.

Under the leadership of our Executive Champion for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, a number of additional initiatives have taken place, including increased training, the promotion of external resources and events, and partnerships with equity seeking organizations. Our Executive Champion’s promotion of inclusivity resulted in the creation of the WD Coalition of Belonging. With the full support of the WD executive team, this employee resource group focuses on employment equity and diversity and inclusion. The group has already undertaken many activities, projects and training initiatives. I look forward to the impact they will continue to have within WD and beyond.

We continue to analyse our workforce to determine the results of the initiatives we have taken. Using workforce analysis from November 2020, we better understand the intersectionality of our workforce, including the areas where more information is needed and where focused attention is necessary. Another valuable source of information for WD is the Public Service Employee Survey. Our 2020 results reflect that efforts being taken have created a supportive culture and work environment. For example, 89% of WD’s respondents have told us that they feel comfortable discussing concerns regarding racism in the workplace with a person of authority and 90% feel that individual differences are respected. Our results are very positive but these efforts cannot stop. We will continue to analyse our workforce using internal data and information from external sources, such as Statistics Canada and TBS-OCHRO to inform our future decisions and plans.

Personally, I shared a commitment with all my staff to learn more about diversity and inclusion. I held roundtable sessions in which employees shared their stories and experience of racism, inclusion, accessibility and equity. These poignant discussions were powerful for those who participated, including myself. They increased our awareness and connection with each other. These engagements left me more resolved than ever that we are heading down the right path.

As Chair of the British Columbia and Prairie Federal Councils, I reminded senior regional executives of their obligations and our shared role as leaders to create safe and inclusive workplaces. Regional councils coordinated a number of activities including the virtual screening of the We Will Stand Up film and its accompanying panel discussion, the Respect Day 2020 panel. We supported the launch of the BC Chapter of the Federal Black Employee Caucus and their speaker series. The Federal Council also collaborates with the First Nations Public Service Secretariat to co-implement the Strengthening Public Service Institutions Initiative, which has the dual objectives of achieving increased experience and knowledge within First Nations administrations and improving Indigenous awareness within the federal public service.

I would like to close by highlighting how WD employees have taken personal action to better our workplace. I have witnessed many employee-driven initiatives that demonstrate how conscious effort every day makes the workplace kinder and more inclusive. These practices include the use of land acknowledgments at meetings and in signature blocks, the expansion of our positive space program in support of LGBTQ2 staff, diversity-themed meetings where staff explore how they can better support other team members and external stakeholders with diverse needs. We are seeing employees take ownership of their workplace culture. I am impressed and grateful for these actions. I know that our WD’s efforts and positive results will continue under the banner of two new agencies recently created: Prairies Economic Development Canada and Pacific Economic Development Canada.

I am proud of what we have accomplished since being called to action. We are committed to the continual fight against racism and we will support each other through meaningful, collaborative action.

Best regards,

Dylan Jones
President of Pacific Economic Development Agency Canada
Interim President of Prairies Economic Development Canada

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