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

Summer 2021 update

Dear Ms. Charette:

Thank you for your Call to Action message dated June 28, 2021, in which you called upon all deputy heads across the Public Service to take concrete action and full accountability in regard to anti-racism, equity and inclusion.

At Shared Services Canada (SSC), we are dedicated to meeting the highest standards of equality and non-discrimination, anti-racism, inclusion, dignity and respect—and are putting words into action.

We have been listening, learning and taking action to ensure SSC is truly tackling systemic racism, and is normalizing conversations about diversity and inclusion. We are committed to be driven by data, to be transparent about what we uncover, and to have ongoing conversations with our employees so we can continue to do better. We are continually addressing systemic barriers as they arise to create an inclusive work environment for all SSC employees.

This year marks the 10-year anniversary of SSC as an organization. Over the past decade, we have not only tackled the daunting task of consolidating government information technology infrastructure and introducing more efficient ways of operating while improving how government delivers programs and services to Canadians, we have also been focusing on the culture and the people in our organization.

Earlier this year, we put in place Vision, Mission and Values as part of the ongoing SSC 3.0 transformation agenda. Our values, the fundamental beliefs that guide our actions are:

Diversity and Inclusion Framework

To help guide us through this journey now and into the future, we have developed a Diversity and Inclusion Framework (Annex A) through consultation with SSC diversity networks and analysis of our workforce data. The Framework is designed around four pillars: training, recruitment, talent management and accountability. Key priorities were identified within the pillars to ensure the use of diversity and inclusion lenses in all policies, practices and services so that we can embed these important principles into our everyday work.

Success will only be possible by harnessing the passion and ideas of all public servants. To gather these ideas, we held our first Design Jam at SSC in October 2020—an open and frank discussion about racism and diversity issues—to break barriers and solicit ideas. Employees shared their concerns and insights on how we can make meaningful changes at SSC. As a result, we have developed a series of initiatives related to Employment Equity (EE), diversity and inclusion, including:

Participants at our Diversity Council meetings have been speaking candidly and sharing their stories with us. Their personal experiences and perspectives are concretely guiding us as we plot the way forward. We heard some powerful messages from them, including the following:

Every SSC employee is being engaged so that diversity and inclusion are considered in everything they accomplish, whether they are recruiting new talent, working on performance reviews or planning town halls. The changes we are implementing are part of our commitment to meaningful and long-term change.

SSC has many employee networks, such as Indigenous peoples, Women, Persons with Disabilities, Visible Minorities, Pride and Black Employees, which are giving marginalized groups a platform to actively combat racism and increase equity and inclusion at a grassroots level. As we continue to work together, and learn from each other, the Framework will evolve and grow with us.

Workforce Analytics

We dug deep into our workforce analytics related to hiring, promotions and departures, and discussed our internal recruitment and evaluation policies and practices. The data shows progress in SSC’s overall representation of EE groups.

However, there is room for improvement. Women working in information technology and those identifying as persons with disabilities continue to be underrepresented. While SSC did reach targets for hiring Indigenous peoples, this positive gap is fragile and we continue to monitor this group closely. We also continue to maintain representation of visible minorities above the general workforce availability.

We reviewed the classification and sector breakdowns, and determined that there are still gaps and clustering in many parts of the Department. Below is an example of one such analysis.

Table 1: Employment Equity Gaps for Executives (EX) and Computer Systems (CS)-05 (data October 2020)

Category

Women

Indigenous peoples

Visible Minorities

Persons with Disabilities

 

Rep
(%)

Avail
(%)

Delta

Rep
(%)

Avail (%)

Delta

Rep
(%)

Avail
(%)

Delta

Rep
(%)

Avail
(%)

Delta

CS-05

23.36

29.70

-9

4.38

1.79

4

18.25

14.45

5

4.38

9.91

-8

EX-01

55.22

44.59

7

5.97

2.95

2

16.42

11.39

3

5.97

5.27

0

EX-02

30.26

37.95

-6

0.00

2.27

-2

19.74

11.63

6

2.63

5.27

-2

EX-03

45.28

40.03

3

0.00

2.88

-2

18.87

11.08

4

1.89

5.27

-2

Rep = Representation; Avail = Available; Delta = Number of employees

To address the gaps, and to maintain representation where there are no gaps, SSC has been establishing recruitment targets to help bolster external hiring (see Table 2 below).

In 2020–2021, we exceeded our targets in three of the four EE groups and missed the persons with disabilities target by one. We regularly discuss reports and report our progress at the senior management table on a quarterly basis to ensure progress is monitored.

Table 2: 2020–2021 Recruitment Against Employment Equity Targets

Recruitment Targets

Initial

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Total Achieved

Visible Minorities

80

32

56

53

46

187

Indigenous Peoples

11

3

7

4

7

21

Women in IT

66

25

35

46

27

133

Persons with Disabilities

57

8

17

14

17

56

Other data sources, such as Public Service Employee Survey numbers, are being researched to gauge our success with inclusion and engagement. We saw an overall increase of 5.4 percent in our Public Service Employee Survey results for employees from equity-seeking groups as compared to an overall increase of 2.8 percent for all SSC employees.

More of our employees view their workplace as psychologically healthy, at 74 percent (compared to 68 percent for the Public Service), which represents a 9 percent increase from 65 percent in 2019.

Women at SSC have a more positive perspective of the workplace, with 78 percent viewing it as psychologically healthy (4 percent higher than the departmental average).

But we still have work to do, such as:

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we actively consulted on the needs of our EE employees, by including EE demographics in our Employee Pulse Survey questions. The results to some of the questions allowed us to tailor our interventions during the pandemic to better support these particular communities. We just completed our third Employee Pulse Survey, and will continue to adjust our approach based on these results.

In addition to our internal efforts, we recognize SSC has an important role to play as an inclusive technology enabler for the Public Service as a whole. We have several major initiatives underway to make technology accessible to all public servants:

As we further develop these initiatives, our actions will be guided by more than just the numbers—we will continue to listen actively to our people, ensure that we are held accountable, and bring meaningful and lasting change to SSC.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Glover (He/Him)
President
Shared Services Canada

Sony Perron (He/Him)
Executive Vice-President
Shared Services Canada

Annex A—Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

Training and Engagement

Recruitment

Talent Management

Accountability

  • 31 projected Commemorative Dates/Events celebrations
  • Ongoing REC Talks
  • Addition of 3 mandatory training for all employees
  • Advisory Committees / Networks (7 networks): Revive and restructure, hold regular meetings:
    • Indigenous Peoples
    • Persons with Disabilities
    • Visible Minorities
    • Women’s Network
    • Pride Network
    • Black Employee Network
  • Ongoing review of Diversity Web Page for greater employee and branch engagement
  • Develop leadership pathway with EDI-related courses
  • Identify and promote Language Training for equity-seeking groups
  • Integrate EDI section in onboarding process
  • Training offered to SSC employees, e.g. Kairos Blanket, Gender-based analysis plus (GBA+), Unconscious Bias
  • Recruitment Strategies:
    • Create pipeline strategies for each equity group that leverage existing programs, reach out to external career fairs and expanded post-secondary relationships. E.g.: Specialisterne pilot with the Office of Public Service Accessibility (OPSA), Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) IM/IT apprenticeship for Indigenous, Indigenous campus program, University student ambassador program, etc.
    • Increase promotion of available Public Service Commission (PSC) inventories for Student with Disabilities and Indigenous Students
    • Early Adopter of Accessibility Passport
    • Promote job opportunities to targeted audiences
    • Review annual recruitment targets to ensure appropriate focus of each equity group
  • References: Create EDI guides for:
    • Staffing advisors to ensure barrier-free language in job posters
    • Hiring managers as diverse board members
    • Best practices to increase diverse and inclusive recruitment and hiring
  • Mentorship / Sponsorship (leveraging Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer’s (OCHRO) Mentorship+ Program):
    • Launch of the Women’s mentorship pilot program – will assess & establish best practices for additional mentorship programs for other equity-seeking groups
    • Implement Mentorship Plus program for equity-seeking individuals by senior leaders
  • Talent Assessment:
    • Assess talent in the branches for three targeted groups (persons with disabilities, Indigenous people, black community) to understand gaps and identify solutions e.g. career development
    • Co-create career plans with equity-seeking employees to improve career progression
  • Diversity Council
  • Performance management
    • Commitment in Executive and manager / supervisor Performance Management Agreements (PMAs)
  • Branch-level Accountability:
    • Phase-out dated IT terminology in programs/services documents (Networks, Security and Digital Services (NSDS)/NextGen)
    • Branch Level Champions / Ambassadors
  • Employment Systems Review (ESR):
    • Analysis of HR systems, policies and practices whereby identifying barriers affecting equity-seeking group members and developing a plan to address
  • Scorecards and Reports: continue analysis and report on annual metrics to Government
    • Multiculturalism report;
    • Many Voices One Mind;
    • Deep dive of the Public Service Employee Survey (PSES) results by EE group;
    • Annual review and update of the Employment Equity Action Plan, etc.
  • Amendments to the Public Service Employment Act (Bill C30)
  • Diversity and Inclusion Pledge: To be signed by SSC executives

Annex B—List of Completed Activities by Areas of Concern

1) Appointing Indigenous employees and Black and other racialized employees to and within the Executive group through career development and talent management

Appointments

We have increased the number of Indigenous executives by one. Other internal appointments resulting in a promotion have been completed, but there has been no increase in terms of numbers for the Department.

Anonymized recruitment

SSC chose to continue work in this area with two processes: EX-01 Regional and EX-04. Results will be out shortly to determine if this methodology made a difference.

Guidance

The diversity and inclusion team developed a one-pager on how to avoid bias, which is now used in Performance Management Plans / talent management discussions for executives and non-executives.

Collective processes (executives and non-executives)

Board members participating in EX-level or CS‑05-level interviews receive training on how to avoid bias (over 2,000 interviews). We also have diversified boards for EX-level and CS-05-level interviews.

2) Sponsoring high-potential Indigenous employees and Black and other racialized employees to prepare them for leadership roles

Mentoring for women

SSC launched a mentorship program pilot for women in May 2021.

Mentorship Plus EE groups

SSC developed a mentorship and sponsorship strategy with various classification components. At the moment, we have a specific EE component for executives and CS-05s.

The plan is to apply lessons learned from this top down strategy to develop a non-EX EE component for January 2022.

3) Supporting the participation of Indigenous employees and Black and other racialized employees in leadership development programs (for example, the Executive Leadership Development Program) and career development services (for example, official language training for equity seeking groups)

Aspiring Leadership Program

SSC launched the Aspiring Leaders Program in April 2021 with 26 participants. The program includes two components (competency development and knowing yourself as a leader), with activities related to each component.

Additionally, when submitting names for leadership or learning opportunities or programs hosted by other organizations (the Canada School of Public Service, Institute of Governance, Odell etc.), SSC uses an EE lens and sent 29 EX-01s and CS-05s from equity-seeking groups on leadership training in the past year.

4) Recruiting highly qualified candidates from Indigenous communities and Black and other racialized communities from across Canada

SSC recruitment strategy

Annual recruitment targets have been established to ensure appropriate focus on each EE. In the first year, we met three of the four targets. The targets are aligned with workforce availability and SSC meets targets for two of the four groups. Efforts continue for the Women and the Persons with Disabilities groups. We were successful in recruiting:

  • 133 women above the target of 66;
  • 56 persons with disabilities just under the target of 57;
  • 21 Indigenous employees above the target of 11; and
  • 187 visible minorities above the target of 80.

We held career fairs and expanded our relationships with post-secondary Indigenous students.

We increased promotion to SSC hiring managers of available Public Service Commission inventories for students with disabilities and Indigenous students.

Guides

To increase diverse and inclusive recruitment and hiring, we put in place a series of best practices.

For example, to increase representation of EE groups at SSC, we encourage our hiring managers to have diverse board members on selection board committees. We also provide members with a guide on diversity and inclusive hiring.

We also created EE, diversity and inclusion guides for staffing advisors to ensure barrier-free language in job posters.

5) Committing to personally learning about racism, reconciliation, accessibility, equity and inclusion, and fostering a safer, positive environment where these conversations are encouraged throughout our workplaces

Pledge

In March 2021, the President and the Vice-President shared a message to employees pledging to support diversity and inclusion.

The senior executives collectively signed a Leadership Pledge on Diversity and Inclusion at SSC.

The Unconscious Bias training was identified as mandatory for all executives. Over 1,000 employees have already taken all three of the self-paced training offered by the Canada School of Public Service.

The GBA+ training was offered to SSC’s Executive Oversight Board members in March 2021.

6) Combatting all forms of racism, discrimination and other barriers to inclusion in the workplace by taking action on what we have learned, empowering employees to speak up about bias and oppression, and better equipping managers to address these issues

Design Jam

In fall 2020, two design jam sessions were organized (one in English and one in French), to identify and discuss key issues that employees in racialized communities were facing at SSC. About 100 employees participated in each session. The Department was nominated for an interdepartmental human resources award (Michelle C. Comeau Human Resources Leadership Awards) for our efforts during these sessions.

REC Talk Series

The Visible Minorities Advisory Committee, with the support of its Champions, started holding a series of sessions called Race Ethnicity Culture (REC) Talks aimed at encouraging open conversations regarding all forms of discrimination and racism.

These sessions provide a safe space for people to ask questions without judgement, and to discuss the role they can play to end discrimination and racism in the workplace and in our communities. These talks help provide our employees with the resources they need to become allies and advocates.

EX Learning Forum

The theme of this year’s EX Learning Forum was diversity and was an opportunity for the executive community to better equip themselves to support diversity and inclusion at SSC.

Ombuds Office

The Ombuds Office increased its efforts to work closely with EE groups to provide a safer place for employees to raise, discuss and resolve work-related issues, including those related to racism, discrimination and other barriers to inclusion.

LGBTQ2+ Pride Season and National Indigenous Peoples Day 2021

On June 23, 2021, in support of the Clerk of the Privy Council’s January 2021 Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion in the federal Public Service, SSC and the Canada School of Public Service hosted a panel discussion to commemorate National Indigenous Peoples Day and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit and others (LGBTQ2+) Pride Season. On the day of the event 1,624 participants registered to attend the online panel discussion.

In October 2020 and February 2021, SSC hosted two virtual Drag Queen events. Over 300 participants attended the event in February 2021.

Three nominations were received for SSC for the first-ever Government of Canada Public Service Pride Awards, two for employees’ efforts and one for the group network.

7) Enabling and advancing the work of grassroots networks and communities within the Public Service by providing necessary resources and bringing them into discussions at senior executive tables

Diversity Council

As part of our commitment to eliminate any forms of discrimination at SSC, our President and Executive Vice-President have put in place a Diversity Council.

This Council includes representatives from across the Department, and provides concrete direction for SSC to improve matters of equity, diversity and inclusion.

Black Employee Network

A grassroots Black Employee Network was created and received our full support. The Black Employee Network has taken many steps directly related to supporting Black employees at SSC. They have been active in creating a supportive, inclusive network to gather employee-lived experiences and allow employees free expression of their workplace concerns. This same network is creating a network of allies to share lived experiences with others to assist in culture change.

Other EE Networks at SSC

SSC has a total of seven Equity, Diversity networks, one for each EE group, as well as a Pride, Black Employee Network and a youth / student innovation network.

8) Including voices from diverse backgrounds in the identification of systemic racism, discrimination and barriers to inclusion, and the design and implementation of actions to address them

Employment System Review

In the fall of 2020, the Department began undertaking our second Employment System Review.

The review is broken into three parts—a policy review and discussions with EE employees on employee continuum (e.g. onboarding, recruitment, learning and development). The work will be completed in 2021–2022 and an action plan will be developed to address systemic barriers.

9) Measuring progress and driving improvements in the employee workplace experience by monitoring disaggregated survey results and related operational data (for example, promotion and mobility rates, tenure) and acting on what the results are telling us

Diversity and Inclusion Dashboard

We created a new Diversity and Inclusion Dashboard to track our progress in numerous diversity and inclusion initiatives. Our EE data is provided to senior management on a monthly basis.

Poll surveys

We also collect data via poll surveys during certain events. This is a way to take an instant reading of certain topics related to EE, diversity and inclusion.

Public Service Employee Survey results SSC uses the results of the Public Service Employee Survey to see how our employees feel about their workplace and career opportunities. A deep dive analysis of the results for EE groups is conducted, discussed with senior management and integrated in the activities identified in the Diversity and Inclusion Framework.

Annex C—Leadership Pledge on Diversity and Inclusion at SSC

Acknowledgement

As the leadership team of Shared Services Canada, we are responsible and accountable for our individual decisions and actions, and we are expected to lead by example and to influence positive change. We recognize that systemic racism and discrimination are embedded in our society and in institutional systems, policies, processes and organizational practices. To achieve equity and dignity for all, individual behaviours and the systemic practices must be examined for potential discriminatory bias against equity-deserving groups.

The Public Service continues to make meaningful efforts in the pursuit of an equitable, fair, diverse and representative workforce. However, while representation levels have risen over the past few decades, there is evidence that racism, discrimination and harassment, of equity-deserving group members, including Black, Indigenous and Persons of Colour (BIPOC), remains an important issue in our workplace. We need to reflect on how we can shift our diversity and inclusion strategies, in order to improve upon the historical approaches that have not achieved the desired results.

To complement a renewed strategy for equity in the public service, our personal behaviours and decisions must set the tone for Shared Services Canada and demonstrate how we, as leaders, can foster greater diversity, inclusion and accessibility in the workplace.

Our commitment

The leadership team at Shared Services Canada is committed to addressing issues of racism and discrimination and to create inclusive workplaces in our department and across the Government of Canada.

We embrace and encourage our employees’ differences in age, color, physical and mental ability, family or marital status, gender identity or expression, language, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, veteran status, and other characteristics such as personality and personal interests that make Shared Services Canada’s employees unique.

We will dedicate our efforts and resources to make long-lasting change and we will be held accountable to this commitment.

Our actions

I make the following personal commitments to:

To address issues of systemic racism and discrimination, we are committed to ensuring that as an organization we:

We believe

We know that addressing racism and discrimination is hard work and will require sustained and focussed effort.

We also know that creating a respectful, inclusive and welcoming culture is vital to employee retention and mental health.

We are fully committed and we will take action.

Because we believe we can do better and be better, together.

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