Many Voices One Mind : a Pathway to Reconciliation

Welcome, Respect, Support and Act to Fully Include Indigenous Peoples in the Federal Public Service

Final Report of the Interdepartmental Circles on Indigenous Representation

December 4, 2017


In 2017, Gina Wilson, Canada’s federal Deputy Minister Champion for Indigenous Federal Employees, led the Interdepartmental Circles on Indigenous Representation. Through consultations with current and past federal public servants, they sought to better understand the challenges and barriers faced by Indigenous Peoples within the Public Service.

The Circles received over 2,100 responses from Indigenous employees across the country, who shared their experiences and advice on how to improve the Public Service work experience for Indigenous employees. 

As a result, the Circles developed a strategy—outlined in this report. The five main objectives are to:

  • Encourage and support Indigenous Peoples to join the Public Service
  • Address bias, racism, discrimination and harassment, and improve cultural competence in the Public Service
  • Address learning, development and career advancement concerns expressed by Indigenous employees
  • Recognize Indigenous Peoples’ talents and promote advancement to and within the executive group
  • Support, engage and communicate with Indigenous employees and partners

While there is still much work to be done to ensure all Indigenous public servants feel supported and included, this report is an important step on our path to supporting the incredible potential Indigenous public servants bring to our workplace. Now is the right time to address barriers that limit diversity and inclusion, which have no place in the Public Service. 

If you would like to join the conversation, please use #ManyVoices on Twitter.


Executive Summary 

Indigenous Peoples face real barriers at each stage of the Public Service employment process. Many Voices One Mind: A Pathway to Reconciliation is a whole-of-government strategy that seeks to reduce and remove barriers to Public Service employment encountered by Indigenous Peoples; and capitalize on the diversity of experience and ideas that Indigenous Peoples bring to the Public Service. 

The Interdepartmental Circles on Indigenous Representation was launched as a platform for action on September 15, 2016, with the support of Deputy Heads and the Clerk of the Privy Council. This innovative interdepartmental team was mandated to devise a strategy to address the barriers encountered by Indigenous people seeking and living a Public Service career. Three bodies make up the team:  A Steering Circle of Deputy Heads; a Collaboration Circle made up of a mix of senior executives from a variety of departments; and a Support Circle: a small multi-disciplinary team that provides support to the other two Circles.

The Strategy to Welcome, Respect, Support and Act to Fully Include Indigenous Peoples in the Federal Public Service is designed to provide tangible actions that individuals and organizations can implement, taking into consideration the unique context, operating environment and prior knowledge in each different situation.

Barriers to employment were identified in consultation with Indigenous employees and stakeholders. A third-party quantitative survey of approximately 2,200 current and former Indigenous employees was conducted. The results were validated and supplemented using qualitative Dialogue Circles, encouraging Indigenous employees to tell the stories that shape their Public Service employment experience.

The overall findings from both the survey and the Dialogue Circles indicate that appropriate cultural awareness training is essential to building a workplace that is supportive, respectful and inclusive. As well, the responses indicate that Indigenous employees are looking for three types of learning and development supports: more training and development opportunities; feeling and being part of a network of Indigenous employees, and mentorship opportunities.  All participants said that the key factor that attracted them to the Public Service was an opportunity to make a difference for Indigenous Peoples and their own communities. 

The survey represents the first time that current and former Indigenous public servants from across Canada, at all different levels, have been engaged from within the Public Service on the issues of Indigenous recruitment and retention. The perspectives in this report were gathered through both quantitative and qualitative research. They provide a strong baseline of evidence for individuals and organizations to use in support of taking actions to make their workplaces more inclusive of Indigenous employees.

The strategy outlines four main objectives:

  1. Encourage and support Indigenous people to join the Public Service
  2. Address bias, racism, discrimination and harassment, and improve cultural competence in the Public Service
  3. Address learning, development and career advancement concerns expressed by Indigenous employees
  4. Manage Indigenous talent and promote advancement to and within the Executive Cadre

A fifth objective—Support, engage and communicate with Indigenous employees and partners—is an important principle for advancing each of the four objectives.  Taken together, the objectives of the Strategy are designed to improve workplace satisfaction for Indigenous employees, increase the awareness of the workplace climate and improve championing of Indigenous employees. 

Each objective offers options for action to enhance current practices, offer opportunities for immediate improvements, and effect a transformational change. The full list of actions can be found in Section 5 of the final report.

We aspire to a federal public service that is…..

Indigenous Peoples Word cloud
Text version 

Nonjudgmental representation enjoyable reconciliation discrimination compassion unbiased teamwork formation calm non-discriminatory patient considerate nonjudgemental empathetic dignity honesty knowledgeable leadership harmonious good recognition accepting valued holistic interested sensitive equality safe caring language elder communication diversity flexible diversité advancement positive inclusivity equitable empathy sincere listen developmental tolerant fair honour équité kind respectful team growth relaxed growth humility helpful network balanced intégrité work trust supportive honest adaptive free aboriginal awareness cultures encouraging openess receptive history equity openness mentoring family know friendly opportunity reconnaissance cooperative patience healthy productive openminded less respectueux professional accessible management ouverture mentorship confiance rewarding compassionate ouvert curious spiritual accountability barrierfree multicultural 

Message from Gina Wilson, DM Champion for Indigenous Federal Employees

I am always grateful to my people and the Algonquin Nation, on whose traditional territory we are able to do good work. 

Over the last year, I have had the honour to lead the work of the Interdepartmental Circles on Indigenous Representation. In doing so, I have had the privilege of listening to Indigenous Peoples, bargaining agent representatives, public servants at all levels, and former public servants who still care about the Public Service workplace.  By listening, I have learned how passionate and committed so many are to make the Public Service of Canada a workplace where Indigenous Peoples feel welcomed, respected, and supported, and where action is taken to ensure they are fully included in the workplace. This report brings together the views shared by many voices, with a single-minded purpose of achieving a better Public Service workplace for Indigenous Peoples.  The actions and outcomes outlined in this report are a pathway to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.  I look forward to walking that pathway. 

Successfully completing a project of this kind requires the leadership, commitment and effort of many people.  I extend appreciation to everyone who had a hand in the success of this project.  Special thanks are extended to:

The Steering Circle for their leadership on this important file:  Anne Marie Smart (CHRO), Wilma Vreeswijk (CSPS), Christine Donoghue and Patrick Borbey (PSC), Carolina Giliberti (CFIA), Don Head (CSC), Hélène Laurendeau (INAC) and Janine Sherman (PCO). 

The Collaboration Circle under the leadership of Patrick Boucher (Chair) for their commitment and perseverance in staying focussed on action and achieving results:  Keith Conn (HC), Luc Dumont (INAC), Brian T. Gray (AAFC), Peter Hill (CBSA), Michelle Langan (CSC), Catherine MacQuarrie (IPAC), Frances McRae (PCO), Rob Prosper (Parks), Sean Ross, Camille Bouchard and Karine Renoux (INAC), Manon Tremblay (PSC), Margaret Van Amelsvoort-Thoms (OCHRO), Shirley Anne Off (Justice) and Danielle White (INAC).

The Support Circle under the leadership of Nadine S. Huggins, Director and Executive Secretary to the Circles, for creatively and thoroughly meeting multiple demands to get the work of this project done collaboratively, with analytical rigour and within the expected timeframe:  Heather Mousseau (CBSA), Karol  Gajewski (Free Agent).

Finally, thank you to Lee Seto-Thomas for sharing the Many Voices One Mind teaching, which stems from Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) philosophy


Gina

Why a Strategy on Indigenous Representation Now? 

Achieving a Public Service where Indigenous Peoples feel included is timely. It is in line with the Government’s broad Reconciliation agenda, defined by renewed nation-to-nation, government-to-government, and Inuit-Crown relationships with Indigenous Peoples.   

The  Public Service is ripe for transformation.  Canada enjoys a strong and evolving human rights legislative foundation. It includes the Employment Equity Act, the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Public Service Employment Act, which requires that the Public Service be representative of the populations it serves. 

We operate in a climate where Deputy Heads are able and encouraged to exercise flexibility and creativity to attract, develop and retain human resources to meet the current and future needs of their organizations.  All of this can be achieved within existing delegated authorities.

 

Diversity: The array of identities, abilities, backgrounds, skills, perspectives and experiences that are representative of Canada’s current and evolving population.

Inclusive workplace: An inclusive workplace is fair, equitable, supportive, welcoming and respectful. It recognizes, values and leverages differences in identities, abilities, cultures, backgrounds, skills, experiences and perspectives that support and reinforce the evolving human rights framework.

Indigenous:  First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples living in the country known as Canada.

Canada’s Public Service is recognized as a world leader. It is celebrated for its professionalism, efficiency and stability.  Canada’s diversity is a recognized strength. It is time to take bold, strategic and deliberate actions to enhance and capitalize on that strength.  Fully including Indigenous Peoples in Canada’s Public Service will enhance Canada’s ability to identify itself as a fully inclusive workplace

Indigenous people face real barriers at each stage of the Public Service employment process.  Many Voices One Mind:  A Pathway to Reconciliation is a whole-of-government strategy that seeks to:

  • Reduce and remove barriers to Public Service employment encountered by Indigenous People; and

  • Capitalize on the diversity of experience and ideas that Indigenous Peoples bring to the Public Service. 

Many Voices One Mind – Developing the Strategy

Gina Wilson, Deputy Minister Champion for Indigenous Federal Employees, launched work to develop a strategy for Indigenous representation in the Public Service in September 2016. The Clerk of the Privy Council, the Public Service Commission of Canada (PSC), the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO), the Canada School of Public Service (CSPS) and Deputy Heads from across the system collaborated to design an innovative approach to identify and analyze barriers to employment. The aim was to deliver actionable solutions to address why Indigenous employees continue to express dissatisfaction with their Public Service employment experience. 

The Interdepartmental Circles on Indigenous Representation was launched as a platform for action.  Three bodies make up this innovative interdepartmental team:

  • A steering Circle of Deputy Heads;  
  • A Collaboration Circle made up of a mix of executives from a variety of departments; and  
  • A Support Circle which is a small multi-disciplinary team that provides analysis, coordination, integration across activities, and report writing support to the Steering and Collaboration Circles. 

Together, the Interdepartmental Circles defined a unifying vision: to achieve a Public Service that welcomes, respects, supports and acts to fully include Indigenous people seeking and living a Public Service career

The work of the Interdepartmental Circles on Indigenous Representation is grounded by an integrated evidence base as well as Indigenous employee input and engagement.  A partial list of activities pursued to establish a solid foundation for the Strategy includes: 

  • Advice from internal and external experts;
  • Data about the current state of Indigenous representation across the largest occupational categories and within the Executive Group of the Public Service, compiled by the Public Service Commission of Canada, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and Statistics Canada;
  • External professional research on best practices in recruiting and retaining Indigenous Peoples;
  • Outreach to employees and employee networks across a number of departments for input and feedback at each stage of the Strategy development process;
  • Interventions by Indigenous public servants and other stakeholder groups;
  • Input from bargaining agent representatives;
  • An inventory of current Public Service initiatives that align with proven best practices; and
  • A survey of current and former Indigenous employees.

This final report and Strategy is based on qualitative and quantitative information.

Specifically, this final report:

  1. Outlines projections that will impact the Public Service context; 
  2. Summarizes what we know about Indigenous representation in the non-executive and executive ranks;
  3. Outlines research into best practices to address the unique situation of the Inuit;  
  4. Reports on promising action currently underway in organizations; and finally,
  5. Presents Many Voices One Mind: a Pathway to Reconciliation—a whole-of-government strategy on Indigenous representation.

1. The Public Service Context – Projections

Statistics Canada demographic and labour market projections to 2031 suggest that: 

  • The Canadian population is aging but when analysis is done by region, important variations in this trend are observed. In the Prairie provinces and Territories—where high numbers of Indigenous Peoples reside, individuals aged 0-14 are projected to continue to outnumber those who are 65+.
  • By 2031, the percentage of the population who self-report an Indigenous identity will increase from 5% to 6%. This represents an increase of approximately 778,000 people.
  • The share of people reporting an Indigenous identity in Central Metropolitan Areas located in the Prairies and Territories is expected to rise and, in places like Brantford, Sudbury and Thunder Bay, Indigenous Peoples will continue to outnumber members of visible minority groups.
  • The size of the Canadian labour force is shrinking. In the face of an increase in the share of the population aged 25-64 declaring an Indigenous identity, Indigenous Peoples are expected to make up a larger share of the future labour force.
  • The percentage of Indigenous Peoples completing a university education will increase, but is expected to remain below the Canadian average rate of 64% (2011 Statistics Canada data).
  • Immigration will continue to redefine Canada’s population.
  • To be effective, public servants require competencies in the areas of social interaction, collaboration, managing diversity and maintaining an inclusive workplace.




Conclusions:

  • The demographic composition of Canadian society is changing and these changes may influence social norms and perceptions.
  • Regardless of the context in which it operates the Public Service is expected to consistently reflect and promote fairness, professionalism, non-partisanship and representativeness.
  • Respect, support and full inclusion of Indigenous Peoples are and will remain, aligned with core Public Service ideals.

2. Representation of Indigenous Peoples in the Public Service of Canada

Barriers to employment 

Indigenous Peoples encounter various barriers that affect their ability to access and successfully navigate employment within the Public Service.  The barriers outlined in Annex 1 were identified, further defined and validated with Indigenous employees and other stakeholders.  Consultations were held and input was received from: 

  • The Aboriginal Executive Network;
  • The Champions and Chairs Circle for Aboriginal Peoples (CCCAP);
  • Indigenous employees at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, Correctional Service Canada, and the former Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada; and
  • Indigenous employees who responded to a whole-of-government survey on Indigenous retention.

Indigenous Employees’ Views and Experiences– Results of the Indigenous Workforce Retention Survey 

To ensure Indigenous employees were directly engaged in developing the Strategy, a research consulting firm was hired to survey current and former Indigenous employees about:

  • Issues related to recruitment, professional development and long-term retention;
  • Opportunities and challenges faced by Indigenous employees in the Public Service workplace; and
  • Former Indigenous public servants’ reasons for leaving the Public Service.

The Indigenous Workforce Retention Survey had a quantitative online phase—approximately 2,200 current and former Indigenous public servants from across the country responded. Online survey results were validated and supplemented using a qualitative Dialogue Circle approach. Current and former public servants from across the country shared their experiences and views. Annex 2 outlines the methodology and approach used for the survey, and includes a summary of key findings.

“As an Indigenous employee I do not want to feel called upon or feel personally responsible to educate, demystify inaccuracies, counter stereotypes and defend Indigenous Peoples, their histories and cultures”

Survey Respondent

“I was required to take an IQ test as part of an assessment process I participated in.  I found out later that non-Indigenous applicants were not required to do this”.

Dialogue Circle Participant

Through the survey research, Indigenous public servants provided a window into the impacts of the barriers they face. They also shared their views about which policies, programs and supports are needed to improve their workplace experiences. 

Dialogue Circle discussions were particularly rich as they encouraged current and former Indigenous employees to tell the stories that shape their Public Service employment experience. The following observations are drawn from Dialogue Circle discussions:

  • Most participants seem to have entered the Public Service through a student program (Federal Student Work Experience Program or the former Native Internship Program) or through Public Service work fairs.
  • All participants said that the key factor that attracted them to the Public Service was an opportunity to make a difference for Indigenous Peoples and their own communities.  Job stability, good pay and benefits were other key factors.
  • The issue of self-identification was discussed as an important and difficult issue to resolve.  Specific issues included questions about whether everyone who self-identifies is truly an Indigenous person and how identity should be assessed; whether self-identification creates barriers as an individual seeks to move up the ranks and into the Executive Group; whether self-identification results in an employee being pigeonholed in work related to Indigenous issues; and whether non-Indigenous Peoples falsely self-identify, thus denying Indigenous employees career progression opportunities.
  • Participants frequently spoke about the challenges faced in trying to advance their careers.  Processes are seen as neither transparent nor considerate of Indigenous cultural values.  A number of participants stated that they failed the “personal suitability” section. Two noted that they ranked a zero on personal suitability and said how emotionally harmful that was.
  • Participants view the hiring process as bureaucratic and burdensome, particularly as they feel they lack knowledge of “how to play the game.”  Participants also gave examples of how they have been required to meet different expectations than non-Indigenous applicants in hiring processes.
  • Participants said that there was  a serious lack of training and development opportunities available to them, often due to limited time or money allotted.  They highlighted poor support from managers to pursue further education, language training and leadership development.  One participant noted “my manager told me –you know the rest of us have to pay for our own degrees.”
  • Many participants suggested establishing separate training platforms for Indigenous employees so that they benefit from having the support, comfort and network of fellow Indigenous employees.  Participants also believe that separate training would be more culturally sensitive.
  • The majority of participants welcomed the possibility of more structured mentorship opportunities where both the mentor and mentee have set clear outcomes for the relationship.
  • All groups expressed gratitude for the opportunity to work for the federal government and recognize that they have been part of interesting and important work.  While participants are hopeful that recent commitments and the increased focus on Indigenous Peoples will translate into concrete and meaningful actions, they also remain skeptical about this.
  • Participants recommended a reduction in the requirements for French as a second language, particularly when working with English-speaking Indigenous communities.  They advocate recognizing their Indigenous language and offering an equivalent of a bilingual bonus to those who use an Indigenous language in positions that deal with Indigenous communities.
  • Participants expressed a sense of being “tokenized.” They felt that they must constantly defend or explain Indigenous histories and cultures to non-Indigenous colleagues.  Indigenous employees mentioned that senior leaders seek them out for photo opportunities. However, they did not feel they were called upon to share their Indigenous experience and knowledge when it really matters, for example, when designing a policy or program intended for Indigenous communities and peoples.
  • Finally, participants discussed the need for more leadership and effective Champions for Indigenous employees. Participants emphasized that this is particularly needed when workplace reductions are in play.  Many participants noted that they feel that Indigenous employees were disproportionately terminated during the last round of Public Service staff reductions.

“I feel taken advantage of by senior government officials and ministers, who want a ‘token’ photo with an Indigenous person”

Dialogue Circle Participant

Indigenous employees who have worked for the Public Service between 5 to 10 years have critical workplace needs. They feel emphasis is exclusively on recruitment when they face a lack of career advancement and mobility. They also feel that there is an inconsistent application of policies—particularly those related to staffing. 

 

“I have had many good experiences over the years that have had big impacts but those windows for going in and making a change or having an impact have become increasingly more difficult to do as the years went by—it is starting to get harder to have an influence on decisions that impact Indigenous people”

Dialogue Circle Participant

The survey results conclude:

  • More can be done to support Indigenous employees through the recruitment process. Approximately half of current and former Indigenous employee respondents indicated an understanding of how the recruitment process works. Further, just over half of current Indigenous employee respondents strongly agree / agree that they have a high level of satisfaction with the recruitment process (less than 50% of former employees felt this way). Most noteworthy is that 56% of current and 43% of former employees strongly agreed / agreed that their first position in the Public Service was what they expected.
  • Indigenous employees seek a workplace that is supportive, respectful and inclusive. They do not wish to be required, in the absence of appropriate cultural awareness training, to educate their colleagues about Indigenous histories and cultures. Nor do they want to feel responsible for dispelling stereotypes that should be addressed using a systemic approach.
  • Indigenous employees are looking for three types of learning and development supports:  more training and development opportunities (especially in the areas of leadership development); feeling and being part of a network of Indigenous employees; and mentorship opportunities.
  • Lack of access to (mainly French) language training and challenges associated with the language requirements of most positions frequently become a barrier to advancement for Indigenous employees.
  • The satisfaction among Indigenous employees is low—56% of Indigenous employees reported being very satisfied / satisfied with their employment.  Forty percent of current employee respondents indicated they were planning to leave their current position.  Current employees’ top reason for thinking about leaving is to gain further experience.  The second main reason, however, is a lack of career progression opportunities and the view that some recruitment and promotion processes in their current organization are neither fair nor transparent.   How “right fit” is used and and how pre-qualified pools are established and used were specifically cited as areas where employees feel they are subjected to bias and discrimination.
  • PSES results indicate that Indigenous employees repeatedly report that they have been victims of discrimination and harassment at almost twice the rate of non-Indigenous employees.
  • Indigenous employees who have worked for the Public Service for 5 to 10 years have critical workplace needs.

The Indigenous Workforce Retention Survey results paint a clear picture of how Indigenous public servants experience and view the barriers that impact their work life and career.  It is vital to address these issues and prevent adverse experiences.

The current statistical representation of Indigenous public servants serves as an important backdrop.  This is described in the next several sections, based on data ending March 2016.

“I completed all the hoops I was told I must get through but then you hit the Indigenous ceiling and get pushed back.  There is a point at which being labelled as an Indigenous employee becomes a barrier”.

Dialogue Circle Participant

Statistical Representation of Non-Executive Indigenous Public Servants 

Current Indigenous representation in the Public Service is based on the analysis of data from PSC internal administrative systems. The data reflect activity by organizations under the authority of the Public Service Employment Act.  The data analysis provides an understanding of hiring and staffing trends; statistical representation rates overall and by occupational group; and mobility and career progression. 

There are gaps in Public Service hiring of Indigenous students.  Analysis of student recruitment rates over a three-year period (from 2013-14 to 2015-16) shows that the proportion of Indigenous students hired via student programs for summer and/or part-time work fell below the representation rate of Indigenous Peoples across the Public Service. This occurred in spite of a sharp increase in the overall numbers of students hired into the Public Service between 2014-15 and 2015-16.  Specifically, of the 19,783 students hired through the Federal Student Work Experience Program between 2013-14 and 2015-16, a total of 570 (2.9%) self-identified as an Indigenous person.  During the same period, of the 12, 375 students hired through the CO-OP program, a total of 48 (0.38%) self-identified as an Indigenous person.  Finally, of the 1222 students hired through the Research Affiliate Program (RAP), 14 (1.4%) self-identified as an Indigenous person.

There are currently no overall statistical representation gaps for Indigenous Peoples in the Public Service as a whole. This may change when new workforce availability data are released. Over the last 15 years, the statistical representation of Indigenous Peoples in the Public Service has increased, from 3.6% in 2001 to 5.1% in 2015, exceeding their workforce availability.  Further, data show that overall hiring rates for Indigenous Peoples into the Public Service have followed the same ebbs and flows as other employment equity designated groups.  It should be noted, however, that whole-of-government Indigenous representation rates are largely bolstered by five departments. It should also be noted that about a dozen departments have not achieved full Indigenous representation. 

Statistical representation rates for Indigenous Peoples within the largest occupational groups in the Public Service have been stable over the last three years. Moreover, Indigenous Peoples are well represented when compared to population representation (4.3%) and workforce availability (3.4%) rates. 

Data as of March 2016 show the following statistical representation of Indigenous employees in the 10 largest occupational groups: 

  • Administrative Services (AS) – 5.6%
  • Border Services (FB) – 3.8%
  • Clerical and Regulatory (CR) – 6.7%
  • Computer Systems (CS) – 2.9%
  • Correctional Services (CX) – 11.4%
  • Economics and Social Science Services (EC) – 3.2%
  • Engineering and Scientific Support (EG) – 3.7%
  • Nursing (NU) – 8.9%
  • Program Administration (PM) – 7.1%
  • Welfare Programs (WP) – 12.7%

Internal data show that the Public Service is largely statistically representative of Indigenous Peoples at all levels within the largest occupational groups. As will be seen below, a PSC cohort analysis showed a lower rate of promotions for Indigenous employees. However, an analysis of statistical representation by level provides little evidence that Indigenous employees are stagnating at the lower levels within occupational groups.  There is some evidence of career progression through lower into intermediate levels within occupational groups. 

There are statistical representation gaps in science-based occupational groups, and in the more senior levels of the EC category. 

In terms of mobility and career progression:

  • The appointment rate of Indigenous employees into non-Executive Public Service positions through external indeterminate appointments is steady at approximately 5%.
  • Term to indeterminate appointments for Indigenous employees are steady at approximately 6% each year.  There was a slight decline in the rate of recruitment for external term appointments greater than three months, from 4.4% in 2013-14 to 3.4% in 2014-15.
  • Acting opportunities are regarded as preparation and as a precursor of promotion.  Indigenous employees attained acting opportunities at a rate of approximately 4.6% and acquired approximately 4.2% of promotions.
  • The PSC conducted a mobility cohort analysis of individuals who were appointed to their first indeterminate position in 2011-12 and followed them through the system from 2012-13 to 2015-16.  The mobility of 493 Indigenous employees and 7,631 non-Indigenous employees was analyzed.
  • Analysis revealed that Indigenous employees in the cohort were promoted at a lower rate (19.9%) than employees not self-identifying as an Indigenous person (25.4%).  Further, Indigenous employees within the cohort had a slightly higher rate of lateral transfers (25.2%) than employees not self-identifying as an Indigenous person (24.7%).

Access to Public Service employment may not be seen as an immediate challenge for Indigenous Peoples.  However, the experiences of discrimination, harassment, exclusion, and career stagnation expressed by Indigenous employees provide some insight into why there is a general malaise among Indigenous public servants.  To keep pace with population growth projected by Statistics Canada and to maximize the economic inclusion of all populations, innovating to enhance representation of Indigenous Peoples in the Public Service will help generate important results for all people living in Canada.  It is essential that efforts to recruit Indigenous talent be maintained and enhanced.

Statistical Representation of Indigenous Executives 

Current Indigenous representation in the in the Executive Group is based on the analysis of data provided by the PSC administrative systems. The data reflect activity within organizations that fall under the authority of the Public Service Employment Act. The data analysis provides an understanding of hiring and staffing trends; statistical representation rates; and mobility and career progression for Indigenous executives. 

Indigenous representation in the Executive Group is explored in terms of a number of variables including:

  • Size and composition
  • Regional representation
  • First official language
  • Staffing and appointments, including through external hires, acting opportunities and promotions

A comparison of the representation of Indigenous with non-Indigenous employees in the Executive Group over a five-year period (March 2012-March 2016) is shown in Annex 3. 

Between 2012 and 2016 the size of the Executive Group decreased by 10%—from 5,079 to 4,589 employees. Despite this overall reduction, representation of Indigenous employees in the Executive Group remained fairly stable. 

Indigenous employees make up approximately 3.7% of the Executive Group. The number of Indigenous people at the most senior levels of the Executive Group (EX 03-05) has remained stable at approximately 25 employees since 2012. There were 145 Indigenous EX 01 and EX 02 employees in 2015-2016.

Indigenous women are consistently represented at higher rates in the Executive Group than Indigenous men.  That said, representation of Indigenous female executives declined slightly, from 2.1% in 2011 to 1.9% in 2016.  In comparison, representation of Indigenous men among executives remained relatively constant at 1.6% and saw a small increase to approximately 1.8% in 2016.

Summary:

  • Indigenous executives have a 3.7% representation in the executive ranks
  • Indigenous executives are concentrated in the EX 01, EX 02 and EX 03 levels
  • Indigenous executives participated in less than 2% of formal acting opportunities.
  • Years at level before promotion are not significantly different compared to all executives
  • Rates of promotion for Indigenous employees through the executive ranks is low
  • Identified barriers and early recommendations for action were supported and validated through broad consultations.

Regional Representation 

The majority of Indigenous employees work outside the National Capital Region (NCR).  Between 2011 and 2015, the number of executive positions in non-NCR regions declined from 1,245 to 1,064 (a reduction of approximately 1%).  Similarly, the number of Indigenous executives in these regions declined from approximately 63 individuals (5% of the non-NCR Executive Group) in 2011 to 49 individuals (4.6%of the non-NCR Executive Group) in 2015. 

Official Languages 

The percentage of Indigenous employees hired into the EX 01 category who identify English as their first official language increased slightly, from approximately 69% in 2012 to 71% in 2016.  During the same period, there was a corresponding decline in the percentage of Indigenous executives who identify French as their first official language, from 30.7% to 28.8%.  Almost without exception, Executive Group positions have official bilingual requirements.  

Access to language training and its relation to career progression are issues that need to be addressed. 

Staffing and Appointments 

External Appointments

Most executives in the Public Service are promoted from within. External hires are infrequent.  A total of 287 external hires were made between 2011 and 2016.  Of that number, 110 were women and 177 were men.  The number for external hires of Indigenous Peoples into the Executive Group is very low. It cannot be reported because the group is so small and anonymity cannot be guaranteed. 

Acting Opportunities

Acting opportunities provide important opportunities for development and promotion.  When compared to other employment equity groups, Indigenous executives participate in the fewest formal acting opportunities.  Indigenous executives participated in approximately 23 (1.7%) of the 1293 formal acting opportunities within the Executive Group (EX 02-05) between 2011 and 2016. 

Promotional Appointments

Between 2011 and 2016, 47 (3.7%) of the employees promoted to the EX 01 level were Indigenous employees.  Within the same period, 19 (1.2%) of the 1,562 employees promoted to the EX 02 level or higher were Indigenous employees. 

No substantial differences were observed between Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees in the average time it takes them to progress through the executive ranks.   

3. Research on Best Practices in Recruitment and Retention of Indigenous Peoples 

To build on the evidence base and help develop the Strategy, the Circles commissioned a literature review to identify best practices in Indigenous recruitment and retention.

The review uncovered some 50 sources of information. It was concluded that the Public Service is already implementing certain best practices, but with varying degrees of consistency.  Best practices in recruitment and retention of Indigenous Peoples include: 

  • Establishing a representative workforce policy
  • Encouraging voluntary self-identification and reporting
  • Establishing partnerships with Indigenous organizations
  • Establishing specialized recruitment programs
  • Pursuing outreach at Indigenous educational and employment events
  • Encouraging Indigenous employee networks
  • Acknowledging and including Indigenous cultural practices

The literature review also explored the unique circumstances, as well as the recruitment and retention needs of Inuit. 

The Unique Characteristics and Needs of Inuit 

Recognized in the Canadian Constitution as one of three distinct Indigenous groups in Canada, Inuit are historically, culturally and linguistically distinct from other Indigenous groups. They are also the most recently colonized Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Inuit are disproportionately represented among survivors of residential schools, and many face both intergenerational and ongoing trauma. They are closer to traditional economies than most Indigenous Peoples. On average, Inuit have the lowest education and employment rates, and the highest fertility rate of any Indigenous group. 

Inuit also offer strengths and expertise in terms of their knowledge of the land and its ecosystems, but this is often not adequately recognized within the Public Service.  It is currently difficult to draw firm conclusions about how Inuit are faring in the Public Service, as their responses to surveys are generally included in the broader “Indigenous Peoples” category. 

Just under half of Inuit in Canada live in Nunavut. The Government of Canada has particular obligations under Article 23 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement to bring its Nunavut-based workforce up to a “representative level” of Inuit. Inuit make up 85% of the Nunavut population; this is the workforce target accepted by the Government of Nunavut.

Inuit face the following unique barriers to employment within the Public Service:

  • English is the dominant language for employment. Less value is placed on Inuit languages, including Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun, even though these are often the languages used to provide services in Nunavut.
  • Inuit have to learn a foreign way of doing things and are faced with situations where less value is placed on traditional knowledge or values (Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit).
  • Inuit are sensitive to people from the South—who have different ethnic backgrounds, speak a different language and hold different cultural beliefs—telling them what to do in their own territory.  Most decision makers in Nunavut are not Inuit.
  • Inuit experience bullying and discrimination in the workplace that lead to poor mental health.
  • There is an expectation that Inuit should assimilate to work styles and cultures prevalent in the South.

“They do very little to change themselves to accommodate to you. The basic assumption is one of assimilation, and that it is Inuit who need to change and adapt, not the Government of Canada or its policies”

Government of Canada offices in Nunavut offer an opportunity to take action towards achieving reconciliation and to recognize the value and strengths of Inuit partners. The best practices analysis offers some promising options for using Article 23 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement as an opportunity to experiment with structural change. 

The analysis concludes with suggestions to address some of the employment-related barriers facing Inuit.  Efforts should be made to:

  • Simplify the bureaucratic application process for Nunavut positions wherever possible and find ways to focus on the ability to do the job rather than meet all the qualifications on paper;
  • In addition to the existing housing and travel allowances for employees in Nunavut, which recognize the particular circumstances and difficulties they face, provide greater education and training allowances for employees who have not had the opportunities most southern Canadians have had to further their education and training. Work with partners to develop creative solutions to support employees with child care responsibilities; and
  • Work with partners to build on the best practices that will be identified by Employment and Social Development Canada’s Nunavut Inuit Labour Force Analysis (NILFA) team in its current research, and to increase accountability, make public all documents pertaining to NILFA and the Government of Canada’s Inuit Employment Plan, performance measures and evaluations.

See Annex 4 for a summary of the literature review on best practices.

4. Highlighting Promising Practices 

Building on current practices that support Indigenous employees contributes to establishing an inclusive and diverse workplace. 

Departmental Champions for Indigenous employees were asked to complete a short questionnaire on the Indigenous-specific programs and supports in place within their organization. Several departments are moving in the right direction and a few are well on their way to implementing practices that will have a positive effect on the workplace experience of Indigenous employees. The following are examples of noteworthy and promising practices:

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada established and staffed a full-time Elder position in 2016 to support and engage Indigenous employees.
  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency hired an Elder and former Public Service executive on a part-time basis to help with outreach and recruitment.
  • The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission sponsored 45 summer science camps for children in First Nations communities across the country.
  • Since 2012, Shared Services Canada has awarded 1,021 contracts for an approximate value of $125 million to Indigenous businesses.
  • National Film Board shared applications from self-identified Indigenous candidates with other departments that would be a good fit for the candidate.
  • Health Canada provides an annual budget of approximately $2,500 to the Aboriginal Employee Network.

See Annex 5 for an inventory of noteworthy and promising practices.

5. Many Voices One Mind: A Pathway to Reconciliation and Indigenous Representation 

A Strategy to Welcome, Respect, Support and Act to fully Include Indigenous Peoples in the Public Service 

Indigenous People face real barriers when seeking and living a Public Service career.  Strong evidence of these barriers comes from the testimony, input and advice received from Indigenous employees and internal stakeholders; quantitative and qualitative research; and data and survey analysis.  Similarly, the Circle’s early recommendations for action were validated and supplemented through employee consultation and engagement, research, data and survey analysis. 

This Strategy seeks to influence the culture of the Public Service and the behaviours of individual public servants, to achieve a workplace where Indigenous people seeking and living a Public Service career are welcomed, respected, supported, and fully included in all facets of Public Service life.  The Strategy has four primary objectives that are underpinned by actions to support, engage and communicate with Indigenous employees and partners.

The current Public Service culture affords the opportunity to extend existing best practices so that they are more consistently and broadly implemented. Where possible, the Public Service should move to the next level of best practices – involving transformation. 

Many Voices One Mind : A Pathway to Reconciliation
Text version 

Many Voices One Mind: A Pathway to Reconciliation and Indigenous Representation: 

  • Encourage and support Indigenous peoples to join the public service.
  • Address bias, racism, discrimination and harrassment, and improve cultural competence.
  • Address training development and career advancement concerns 
  • Manage Indigenous talent and promote advancement within the Executive Group.

Support, engage and communicate with Indegenous employees and Partners.


This Strategy challenges public servants at all levels to act to remove barriers that prevent the full inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in the Public Service.  The Strategy identifies tools, mechanisms and new processes to nurture a Public Service culture where employee engagement, satisfaction, morale and confidence are improved and where Indigenous Peoples are more likely to regard the Public Service as a workplace of choice. 

Strategy Objectives 

  • Encourage and support Indigenous People to join the Public Service
  • Address bias, racism, discrimination and harassment, and improve cultural competence in the Public Service
  • Address training, development and career advancement concerns expressed by Indigenous employees
  • Manage Indigenous talent and promote advancement to and within the Executive Group
  • Support, engage and communicate with Indigenous employees and partners

Outcomes and Actions

Encourage and support Indigenous Peoples to join the Public Service

Outcomes:
  • Reduced barriers to Indigenous Peoples’ access to Public Service employment.
  • Increased hiring and retention of Indigenous Peoples at entry-level and mid-career to address future Public Service employment needs.
  • Improved opportunities for Indigenous employees to network within departments and across government—creating a sense of community.
Actions:

Opportunities to Enhance Current Practices: 

  • Extend outreach networks used by the staffing managers to include Indigenous communities, Indigenous post-secondary institutions, colleges and polytechnic institutes, and campus-based institutions mandated to provide services and supports to Indigenous students.
  • Expand outreach to target Indigenous high school students and where possible encourage them to consider and pursue occupations where the Public Service anticipates future gaps (e.g. science-based occupations).
  • Strengthen recruitment processes and approaches by collaborating and partnering with Indigenous institutions to reduce barriers to accessing and applying for Public Service positions (e.g. the need for Internet access to be notified about employment opportunities and/or apply from remote communities).
  • Partner with Indigenous organizations and employees to develop targeted COOP and internship opportunities to attract Indigenous students to the full spectrum of Public Service jobs (e.g. trades, administrative support, etc.).
  • Include Indigenous public servants on external facing recruitment teams.
  • Support, promote, expand, replicate and measure the impacts of innovative current initiatives like iHireAboriginal (INAC), Indigenous Youth Summer Employment Opportunity—IYSEO (TBS) and the Elders support program (AAFC).
  • Expand IYSEO into the regions.

Opportunities for Immediate Improvements:

  • Review practices and tools used by the Personnel Psychology Centre of the Public Service Commission to address systemic and cultural biases in assessment; review their work on customized assessment tools (e.g. those used in hiring Inuit ADMs) so that it can be expanded.
  • Review staffing processes across the system to ensure that hiring and interview boards are culturally appropriate and culturally sensitive, and that action is taken to remove barriers to the appointment and promotion of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Establish and support interdepartmental Indigenous employee networks as a mechanism for new recruits to connect with other Indigenous employees and access potential mentors.
  • Engage and collaborate with Indigenous employees to plan organizational initiatives, including onboarding programs, celebration, and respectful incorporation of Indigenous histories and cultures into the workplace.

Opportunity for Transformational Change:

  • Develop a mid-career employment opportunity program to encourage Indigenous Peoples at mid-career to join the Public Service.

Address bias, racism, discrimination and harassment, and improve cultural competence in the Public Service

Outcomes:
  • Improved departmental readiness to respectfully welcome and support Indigenous employees at each career transition.
  • Integrated and robust cultural awareness components across the suite of programs offered by the Canada School of Public Service.
  • Improved employee perceptions and fewer complaints about transparency and fairness in staffing processes, prequalified pools and low rankings of Indigenous Peoples because of “poor fit”.
  • Addressing unconscious bias, anti-racism, anti-discrimination and harassment awareness as an integral measure of employee performance.
Actions:

Opportunities to Enhance Current Practices:

  • Challenge and incentivize Public Service leaders and managers to develop collaborative and inclusive leadership styles that promote employees’ participation in decision making
  • Design, develop and deliver a rigorous, defined, structured approach to implementing Call to Action #57 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).  Training should focus on improving awareness and respect for Indigenous histories, cultures, community realities and life circumstances.
  • Inspect current onboarding, leadership, supervisory and management courses to ensure they incorporate Indigenous historical and cultural awareness components throughout.
  • Collaborate with Indigenous employees and other stakeholders to deliver priority cultural competence training to staff, supervisors, managers and leaders in departments, agencies and programs who develop policies or run programs that impact Indigenous communities.
  • Review recruitment, development and promotion policies and processes through the lenses of diversity and inclusion, and reconciliation, to root out biases that discriminate against IndigenousPeoples.

Opportunities for Immediate Improvements: 

  • Integrate anti-racism, anti-discrimination, harassment- and bias-free expectations of conduct into competency profiles for all public servants.
  • Institute ongoing annual performance expectations for leaders that hold them accountable to address unconscious bias, racism, discrimination and harassment in their organization.
  • Partner and collaborate with Indigenous Peoples and other stakeholders to develop a robust suite of courses and other education materials that address unconscious bias, anti-racism, anti-discrimination and harassment awareness among public servants.
  • Make unconscious bias, anti-racism, anti-discrimination and harassment awareness training an essential component of Public Service onboarding training.
  • Implement an exit interview process that includes questions about employee experiences with bias, racism, discrimination, harassment and cultural insensitivity and where Indigenous employees have the option to complete their exit interview with an Indigenous person who is not directly linked to their work environment.
  • Undertake a system-wide review of how “right fit” is assessed and how associated justifications are being applied.

Opportunities for Transformational Change:

  • Establish an Ombudsperson for Indigenous Reconciliation to provide a trusted, safe space and whose mandate is to resolve the widest possible range of issues pertaining to bias, racism, discrimination and harassment faced by Indigenous federal employees.  The office of the Ombudsperson for Indigenous Reconciliation would provide managers and employees with a confidential environment where informal conversations and conflict resolution improve workplace understanding, support and relationships.

Address training, development and career advancement concerns expressed by Indigenous employees

Outcomes:
  • Improved workplace satisfaction and retention of Indigenous public servants as demonstrated through departmental Public Service Employee Survey results.
  • Mid-career Indigenous federal employees and new Indigenous recruits are viewed as a new pipeline of Indigenous leaders.
  • Demonstrated fairness and transparency in training and development decisions.
  • Improved Indigenous representation in the upper executive ranks.
Actions:

Opportunities to Enhance Current Practices: 

  • Clarify how Indigenous employees can access coaching, mentoring and sponsorship opportunities.
  • Offer Indigenous employees deliberate career management to clarify routes to success and promotion and to help them be proactive in their career and skills development.
  • Assign departments within a shared portfolio to identify and promote the use of assignments, secondments and cross-training to encourage mobility and development for Indigenous employees.

Opportunities for Immediate Improvements:

  • Implement culturally sensitive employee supports across government organizations (e.g. expand the Elders program in place at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada).
  • Examine opportunities and programs to increase Indigenous employees’ access to culturally appropriate French language training and support during the language training process.
  • Create opportunities for staff to use and be valued for using their Indigenous language in the workplace.
  • Identify positions where use of an Indigenous language is recognized and valued as the “second required language of work.”

Opportunities for Transformational Change:

  • Compensate Indigenous language users in positions where an Indigenous language use is required or an asset.
  • Establish and resource a centralized Center of Expertise for Indigenous Inclusion to provide advice, guidance and support to Public Service managers to effectively integrate Indigenous Peoples into their workplace.

Manage Indigenous talent and promote advancement to and within the Executive Group

Outcomes:
  • Diverse senior leadership resulting in better decision-making and better outcomes for people living in Canada.
  • Improved employee satisfaction and retention.
  • Rejuvenated mid-career Indigenous public servants.
Actions:

Opportunities to Enhance Current Practices:

  • Improve communication about management and leadership development opportunities so that Indigenous participants are aware of them and have time to prepare and to apply.

Opportunities for Immediate Improvements:

  • Design, develop and implement career counselling opportunities for mid-level Indigenous employees (with 5-10 years of service) to determine their readiness for leadership development.
  • Design, develop and implement deliberate and transparent approaches to identifying leadership potential and developing Indigenous managers into leaders.

Opportunities for Transformational Change:

  • Assign Deputy Ministers as Champions for Indigenous executives to support their progression through the Executive Group.
  • Establish an Indigenous Executive Development Program.
  • Establish the requirement for experience working with and/or knowledge of Indigenous communities, histories and cultures for any position that involves providing service to Indigenous communities or impacts Indigenous communities.

Support, engage and communicate with Indigenous employees and partners

Outcomes:
  • Improved workplace satisfaction for Indigenous employees.
  • Increased awareness of workplace climate.
  • Improved Championing of Indigenous employees.
Actions:

Opportunities to Enhance Current Practices:

  • Take the “pulse” of Indigenous employees regularly and with greater frequency when relevant (notably during periods of workforce adjustment).
  • Explore options for surveying Indigenous employees in line with the survey as a baseline, conducted as a regular check-in to support the Many Voices one Mind Strategy.
  • Support the coordination and advancement of an interdepartmental Indigenous employee network that includes a youth-specific component for new recruits and young professionals.
  • Support the coordination and advancement of a formal Indigenous Executive Network.

Opportunities for Immediate Improvements:

  • Establish an accountability framework for Departmental Champions for Indigenous employees that includes:
    • Mandatory diversity and inclusion training
    • Mandatory unconscious bias training
    • Mandatory training to develop cultural competencies in regard to Indigenous Peoples
    • Providing Champions with financial resources to achieve results

Opportunities for Transformational Change:

  • Review and realign the current infrastructure that is intended to support and promote equity and diversity in the Public Service so that it focuses more deliberately on effecting culture change within the organization.

6. Implementation and Measuring Progress 

Developing the Many Voices One Mind Strategy is a first step toward transforming the Public Service and making it a workplace where Indigenous people seeking and living a Public Service career are welcomed, respected and supported, and where action is taken to see them fully included. The next critical step is to develop a robust, multi-pronged implementation plan with specific timelines and methods to measure progress. 

The research, survey, data analysis and reporting completed by Interdepartmental Circles on Indigenous Representation as the foundation for the Many Voices One Mind Strategy establishes a clear baseline. Individual departments and the Public Service as a whole can use this foundation to benchmark and plan for improvement. 

Deputy Heads are encouraged to work in partnership and to use the flexibilities already available through their delegated authorities to develop change management plans and methods to measure progress suited to their organization.   

7. Conclusion

Opportunities for further research and analysis abound and there is great value in continuing the analysis started here. There remains much to uncover about regional differences, the unique needs of various Indigenous populations including, for example, the Métis, and urban compared to on-reserve First Nations. For all that the Interdepartmental Circles learned and shared through the work completed over the last year, there is room for more detailed and stratified analysis.

This report clearly identifies the barriers faced by Indigenous people seeking and living a Public Service career; shares the views and perspectives of Indigenous Peoples on their Public Service work experience; summarizes research into best practices to recruit and retain Indigenous Peoples as members of the Public Service; and presents a whole of government strategy to improve Indigenous representation.

The outcomes and actions outlined in Many Voices One Mind: a Pathway to Reconciliation provide a starting point. Now the work to develop an implementation approach, transform resources and measure progress begins. 

Annex 1 - Barriers to indigenous employment

Labour Market Recruitment Onboarding Retention and Career Management Exit
  • Early intervention with students: prepping the labour market
  • Bring supply of resources and demand for resources together
  • Data and demographic accuracy
  • Negative perceptions of the Public Service
  • Education requirements (level and type)
  • Targeting science and technology students
  • Marketing and demystifying the Public Service (particularly to students)
  • Organizational readiness to deal with Indigenous hiring (cultural bias of hiring managers)
  • Micro-aggressions – use of insensitive language/behaviour
  • Geographic job requirements
  • Targeting science and technology majors
  • Language requirements
  • Education requirements
  • Qualification standards
  • Recruitment and staffing strategies, tools, methods, approaches, mechanisms and systems
  • Transferable skills and experience
  • Mobility
  • Cultural supports
  • Employment strategies
  • Employment and family supports
  • (e.g. transportation, childcare
  • Common practices that pose unique barriers (e.g. finger printing, credit checks, security questionnaires)
  • online application process
  • Addressing racism, discrimination and harassment at the host organization
  • Addressing the potential negative impacts of uniforms and firearms
  • Cultural Support (Creating a sense of community and establishing networks for authentic connection)
  • Cultural Awareness (understanding Indigenous cultures)
  • Training
  • Managers awareness and preparation
  • Employment strategies
  • Understanding the perspectives of Indigenous users (What is your experience? What was your career support? What are the opportunities to change the system to make it better?)
  • Cultural awareness
  • Language requirements
  • Language training
  • Education requirements
  • Performance management
  • Access to training and development
  • Talent management
  • Mid-career talent management
  • Mentoring (e.g. board prep)
  • Coaching and sponsorship
  • Flexibility and mobility
  • Transferability of skills and experience
  • Cultural competencies
  • In-out privileges (Interchange Canada)
  • exercising staffing flexibility, placing the right person in the right job at the right time)
  • Address Indigenous reluctance to come forward for opportunities
  • Self-identification and reliability of data
  • Racism, harassment and discrimination
  • Defining a role for Elders at each stage of employ

Annex 2 - Indigenous workforce retention survey findings

Overview of methodology

Quantitative phase

The research team worked with representatives of the Deputy Champion for Indigenous federal public servants and the Interdepartmental Circles on Indigenous Representation to conduct outreach to current and former Indigenous employees of their respective departments. Below is an outline of the sample and responses.

Email status Sample
Total links opened 3,872
No responses entered 355
Unfinished/invalid questionnaires 624
Not qualifying respondents (Self-qualifies as Not-Indigenous) 704
Completed surveys 2,189

Over three quarters (76%) of the individuals who opened the link after receiving an invitation to participate in the survey qualified to participate based on self-selection criteria, and 56% completed the survey.

Of the completed surveys, a total of 2,138 were from current employees, and 51 from former employees. It is not surprising that the response rate was lower from former employees given the greater challenge of reaching employees who were no longer in the employment of the federal public service.

Qualitative Phase

Dialogue Circles Approach

Two variables were used in the formation of the groups – employment status within the federal public service (current vs. former employees), their current place of work, and their official language preference. Four Dialogue Circles were organized during the week of April 17-21, 2017 and were led by an experienced facilitator and supported by a note taker. The Dialogue Circles comprised the following groups and organized as per the table below:

Group Language Number of participants Date and Time Participation Setting/Location
Current Regional and NCR English 11 April 18, 2017 @ 10:00 am 9 – in person
2 – by phone
Non-focus group room in Ottawa, ON
Current NCR English 12 April 18, 2017 @ 1:00 pm 12 – in person Non-focus group room in Ottawa, ON
Current Regional and NCR French 8 April 21, 2017 @ 10:00 am 1 – in person
7 – by phone
Non-focus group room in Ottawa, ON
Former Regional and NCR English 6 April 21, 2017 @ 1:00 pm 2 – in person
4 – by phone
Non-focus group room in Gatineau, QC

Section I: Analysis and results

Figure 1

Word Cloud: What three words best describe a work environment that is supportive of Indigenous employees? (Current Public Servants)

Figure 1: Word Cloud
Text version

Word Cloud containing the following words:

Nonjudgmental representation enjoyable reconciliation discrimination compassion unbiased teamwork formation calm non-discriminatory patient considerate nonjudgemental empathetic dignity honesty knowledgeable leadership harmonious good recognition accepting valued holistic interested sensitive equality safe caring language elder communication diversity flexible diversité advancement positive inclusivity equitable empathy sincere listen developmental tolerant fair honour équité kind respectful team growth relaxed growth humility helpful network balanced intégrité work trust supportive honest adaptive free aboriginal awareness cultures encouraging openess receptive history equity openness mentoring family know friendly opportunity reconnaissance cooperative patience healthy productive openminded less respectueux professional accessible management ouverture mentorship confiance rewarding compassionate ouvert curious spiritual accountability barrierfree multicultural

Figure 2

Word Cloud: What three words best describe a work environment that is supportive of Indigenous employees? (Former Public Servants)

Figure 2: Word Cloud
Text version

Word Cloud containing the following words:

Nonprejudice work vibrant open empowerment approachable transparency healthy inclusive accountable challenging acceptance engaged equitable value welcoming mentorship informed competent safe fair rewarding equity culturally equal holistic training integrity diversity enjoy flexible inclusive empathetic caring ethics implication respectful qualify harmony fluid balance considerate understanding clear positive genuine advancing supportive friendly growth discrimination history leadership tolerant cooperation knowledge learning mentoring share creating honesty belonging trust openminded appartenance employment partage decolonized mindful indigenous teamwork opportunity

Word Clouds Analysis

The top three words chosen to describe a supportive work environment were, to a great extent, the same between both current and former employee respondents and they included:

  1. Respectful
  2. Inclusivity
  3. Supportive

Additional words that were of shared importance to both current and former Indigenous federal public servants included: “diversity”, “equality”, “fair”, and “flexible”. Both cohorts used these words in high quantity. When the word culture was used, it was often accompanied by “awareness”, “sensitivity”, and “training” which provides insight into what types of training might benefit non-Indigenous federal public servants.

Former federal public servants used “understanding” more than current federal public servants. The words that were used the fewest times by current Indigenous federal public servants included: “autonomie” (autonomy), “availability”, “career”, and “coaching”. The words that were used the fewest times by former federal public servants included: “transparency”, “trust” and “vibrant”.

Survey Findings – Current Indigenous Public Servants

Recruitment

What originally attracted you to work for the federal public service? Please select the three most important options.

: Original Attraction to the Federal Public Service
Text version
  • Job Security: 44%
  • Good benefits: 42%
  • Good pay: 31%
  • Opportunities for career development/promotion: 27%
  • Ability to make a difference for Indigenous people of Canada: 25%
  • Doing Challenging/interesting work: 25%
  • Ability to use my education: 19%
  • Ability to make a difference for Canadians: 16%
  • Predictable Work Schedule: 10%
  • Learning or acquiring new skills on the job: 9%
  • Flexible work arrangements: 8%
  • Train/Learning opportunities: 7%
  • Ability to work in a diverse work environment: 6%
  • Working in an office/ at desk: 4%
  • Only available employment opportunity in my area: 4%
  • Transportation, travel or moving allowance: 1%
  • Access to day care at work or in the community: less than 1%
  • Other: 5%

Table 1: Question 1 - Base: All respondents - current public servants; n=2,138.

The majority of current employee respondents selected “Job Security” (44%) and “Good Benefits” (42%) when asked to identify their primary attraction to working in the federal public service while “Transportation, travel, or moving allowance” (1%) and “Access to day care at work or in the community” (<1%) were ranked the lowest.

Recruitment Experiences: To what extent do you agree about the following questions in relation to your employment with the federal public service?

Experiences (Current)
Text version
  • First statement: My first Federal public service job was what I expected
    • To the first statement, 5% strongly disagree, 13% disagree, 27% are neutral, 46% agree and 10% strongly agree.
  • Second statement: I had a good understanding of how the recruitment process worked and what was expected of me.
    • To the second statement, 8% strongly disagree, 19% disagree, 22% are neutral, 39% agree and 12% strongly agree.
  • Third statement: I was satisfied with the recruitment process.
    • To the third statement: 6% strongly disagree, 14% disagree, 23% are neutral, 43% agree and 13% strongly agree.

Table 2: Question 2 - Base: All respondents - current public servants; n=2,138.

Over half of all the current employee respondents (56%) strongly agree/agree that their “First job in the federal public service was what they expected”, and 18% of respondents strongly disagree/disagree. A total of 51% of respondents indicated they “Understood how the recruitment process worked and what was required of them throughout the process” (strongly agree/agree) and a total of 56% of respondents were satisfied with the overall recruitment process (strongly agree/ agree).

Respondents with 5 years of service or less (56%) were slightly more likely than those with 6 years of service or more (50%) to strongly agree/agree that they “Understood the recruitment process”. This level of agreement is also true for Inuit (64%) and Métis (53%) respondents. First Nations (49%) respondents reported slightly lower levels of understanding of how the recruitment process worked. Respondents from the QC region indicated the highest level of agreement (72% strongly agree/agree).

The QC region indicated the highest levels of satisfaction with the recruitment process (71% strongly agree/agree). Respondents with 10 years of service or less were less satisfied 25% (disagree/strongly disagree) with the recruitment process compared to those with 11 years of service or more (17%).

How could the federal public service improve its recruitment process for Indigenous people?

Improving recruitment processes (top 3 most important) (Current)
Text version
  • Collaboration with Indigenous institutions to expand: 40%
  • More indigenous co-op and internship opportunities: 39%
  • Indigenous recruiters: 34%
  • Better explanation of what to expect in the recruitment: 30%
  • Increase external posting: 29%
  • Shorter application process: 27%
  • Provide personalized support to Indigenous applicants: 23%
  • Cultural considerations in the assessment of interview: 19%
  • Less paperwork: 10%
  • More culturally relevant interview question: 10%
  • Greater use of social media usage (e.g. Linked-in, Twitter…): 8%
  • Other: 11%

Table 3: Question 3 - Base: All respondents - current public servants; n=2,138.

A majority of respondents identified the following as being the most important ways of improving the recruitment process: “Collaboration with Indigenous institutions to expand recruitment of Indigenous employees” (40%), “More Indigenous co-op and internship opportunities” (39%), and “Indigenous recruiters” (34%). The selection of “Better explanation of the recruitment process” (30%) reaffirms findings that more support is needed to navigate the federal public service recruitment process. Of the 11% who indicated “Other” three main themes emerged:

  1. Fair assessment including reducing stereotypes and racism and building trust
    • i.e., cultural considerations in marking rubric; PSC tests; and interview questions.
  2. Assessment should be based on merit rather than affirmative action policies
    • i.e., targeted recruitment number would make me feel like I was being singled out; that the only reason they received the job was because they are Indigenous; disagree with targeted quota hiring; everyone should be treated equally/fairly.
  3. Reduce accessibility barriers in the application and interview process to potential Indigenous recruits
    • i.e., poor Internet connectivity; remoteness and lack of awareness in communities; increase ability to work in community; workshops led by Indigenous recruiters / bridging programs; Indigenous recruitment office / ombudsman; offer interview in Indigenous languages and value Indigenous languages; reduce requirements for fluency in the French language; increase non-competitive hiring postings; streamlined/shorter/more clear application processes.
Learning and Development

To what extent do you agree that any of the following are important areas of learning and development?

To what extent do you agree that any of the following are important areas of learning and development: (Current)
Text version
  • Leadership development: 1% said unimportant, 3% said somewhat unimportant, 24% said somewhat important, 72% said important.
  • Better understanding of my development needs: 1% said unimportant, 4% said somewhat unimportant, 30% said somewhat important and 65% said important.
  • Better understanding of competencies required to become a leader: 2% said unimportant, 4% said somewhat important, 35% said somewhat important and 59% said important.
  • Cultural competency training: 3% said unimportant, 8% said somewhat unimportant, 32% said somewhat important and 57% said important.
  • Understanding how government operates: 2% said unimportant, 8% said somewhat unimportant, 39% said somewhat important and 51% said important.
  • Language training: 10% said unimportant, 12% said somewhat unimportant, 35% said somewhat important and 43% said important.
  • Financial management: 3% said unimportant, 10% said somewhat unimportant, 45% said somewhat important and 42% said important.
  • Other: 16% said unimportant, 3% said somewhat unimportant, 11% said somewhat important and 55% said important.

Table 4: Question 12 - Base: All respondents - current public servants; n=2,138.

Current employee respondents were asked to rate the importance of various areas of learning and development. Those areas ranked as important include:

  • Leadership development (72%)
  • Better understanding of my development needs (65%)
  • Better understanding of competencies to become a leader as being (59%)

For those who indicated “Other”, the issue of language requirements was emphasized. Respondents made suggestions, such as Indigenous language training as well as reducing French language requirements. Respondents also emphasized the importance of supporting health and wellness and cultural awareness and training for all staff, including all levels of management and executive positions.

Analysis of Differences: Important Areas of Learning and Development

“Leadership development” was less often identified as an “Important” area by QC (59%), MB (69%) and NCR (69%) compared to other regions.

Women more frequently identified “Better understanding of [their] development needs” as important  (70%) when compared to men (56%).

“Better understanding of competencies required to become a leader” was identified as “Important” most often by AB (69%), SK (66%) and ATL (62%) compared to other regions.

 “Cultural competency training” was identified as “Important” considerably more often in all regions (60%) except the QC region (39%), as well as amongst First Nations (63%) respondents compared to Métis (49%) and Inuit (52%) respondents.

“Financial management” was most often identified as “Important” by the NU/NWT/YK regions (58%) compared to other regions.

Finally, “Language training” was identified as an important area of learning and development by the NCR (62%) and QC regions (51%) compared to other regions, and Inuit respondents (57%) compared to other Métis (41%) and First Nations (44%) respondents.

Have you had access to the type of learning and development opportunities that you identified as important or very important in your previous employment with the federal public service?

In your employment with the Federal Public Service, have you had access to the type of learning and development opportunities that you identified as important or somewhat important? (Current)
Text version
  • 52% responded yes
  • 37 responded no
  • 11% responded don’t know.

Table 5: Question 13 - Base: All respondents - current public servants; n=2,138.

A little over half (52%) of the respondents identified that they had access to the type of learning and development opportunities that they identified as important or somewhat important in the preceding section.

In your opinion, what are the top three main challenges you face when trying to access learning and development opportunities?

What are the top 3 main challenges you face when trying to access learning and development opportunities? (Current)
Text version
  • Budget constraints mean access is limited: 67%
  • Work pressures mean there is no time for learning & development: 66%
  • Don’t feel there is equal access to learning & development opportunities: 42%
  • As far as I know, it is not available: 17%
  • Working in a remote location means travel costs to learning & development are prohibitive: 14%
  • My supervisor does not support learning and development: 11%
  • Other: 20%

Table 6: Question 14 - Base: All respondents - current public servants; n=2,138.

When current employee respondents were asked to select the top three main challenges that they faced when trying to access learning and development opportunities, “Budget Constraints”, “Work Pressures” and “I don’t feel there is equal access” came out as the predominant top three challenges. The 20% of respondents who selected “other” indicated reasons such as:

  • Accessibility i.e. training not seen as a priority for casual employees; less opportunities in regions /smaller cities; limited opportunities in general; only available to managers/executives
  • There is limited support from leadership / lack of recognition of non-GoC courses
  • Training doesn’t meet needs, or is too general
  • Time consuming / feel overwhelmed knowing where to access opportunities i.e. online paperwork; searching for opportunities; prioritize family time
  • Dislike online learning or limited computer access
  • No challenges i.e. due to supportive management
Workplace Challenges

What challenges have you encountered in working for the federal public service? Select the top 3 most important in your opinion.

What are the top 3 challenges you have encountered in working for the Federal Public Service? (Current)
Text version
  • Lack of career advancement opportunities: 36%
  • I feel stuck in my current job/ Limited for opportunities for mobility: 26%
  • Vacancies requires coverage of the responsibilities of 2 positions: 23%
  • Lack of coaching and mentoring: 20%
  • Lack of respect for Indigenous culture & values: 18%
  • Too many rules and procedures: 17%
  • Feelings of discrimination: 17%
  • Language skills requirements too high: 13%
  • Lack of supervisory support: 12%
  • Lack of flexible work arrangements: 8%
  • Lack of interest in administrative roles: 8%
  • Lack of interest in management roles (stressful): 7%
  • Lack of support in adjusting to the work environment: 4%
  • Lack of formal education and or technical skills: 4%
  • Insufficient and or too expensive childcare services: 4%
  • Competing job market makes it less attractive for me to stay in government: 3%
  • Government work doesn’t accommodate my traditional lifestyle: 3%
  • Lack of fit with work environment: 3%
  • Don’t want to work full-time/permanent: 1%
  • Other: 13%

Table 7: Question 16 – Base: Respondents encountering a challenge; n=1,964

When respondents were asked to select the top three challenges that they encountered while working for the federal public service, the top answers were as follows:

  1. Lack of career advancement opportunities (36%)
  2. I feel stuck in my current job/ Limited opportunities for mobility (26%)
  3. Too many vacancies, often requires coverage of the responsibilities of two positions (e.g. not enough resources to do the work) (23%)

For those respondents who selected “Other” (13%), their responses included:

  • Poor management / and un-empathetic non-Indigenous colleagues: Feel being left out or not valued, seen as a threat, lack of trust, top-town leadership, no knowledge or appreciation of historic and modern Indigenous issues, governance, or cultures
  • Cultural sensitivity: Racism, harassment, youth discrimination, toxic work environment, lack of accommodation to attend ceremonies; carry a very personal burden of government’s treatment of Indigenous peoples; experience judgement from Indigenous communities / individuals for working with the Government of Canada; and the burden of being a “cultural ambassador” or “educator” for non-Indigenous colleagues and in their personal lives
  • Advancement: Opportunities are not transparent, nepotism, or arbitrary; opportunities are limited to HQ / large city centres; opportunities are given to the “yes” people; lack of match-up to education; Lack of or insufficient training and mentoring; lack of language training; lack of respect for Indigenous languages
  • Hiring and HR: Process is arduous and lengthy, caters to people who know how to work the system; Phoenix pay issues
  • Correctional services sector: Not enough elder and aboriginal employee support for offenders; lack of cultural considerations
  • High turnover: makes roles confusing and difficult to serve communities (emphasized in particular by health / nursing sector)
Supports

What should the federal public service be offering to help Indigenous employees thrive and succeed?

What should the Federal Public Service be offering to help Indigenous employees thrive and succeed? (top 3 most important) (Current)
Text version
  • Targeted leadership development opportunities: 33%
  • More opportunities for training and development: 32%
  • Mentoring opportunities: 22%
  • Mentoring opportunities by other indigenous employees: 21%
  • Work-life balance: 19%
  • Colleagues who have good understanding of Indigenous culture and history: 17%
  • Networks for Indigenous employee: 17%
  • More respectful workplace: 16%
  • Encouragement of staff to participate in cultural events: 16%
  • Reduction in workplace discrimination: 14%
  • More access to second language training: 14%
  • Greater equity in the workplace: 14%
  • Flexible work arrangements: 9%
  • Reduction in rules and procedures: 9%
  • Culturally relevant support services: 8%
  • Positive stories about Indigenous peoples: 7%
  • Culturally specific training programs for Indigenous employees: less than 1%
  • More diverse workforce: less than 1%
  • More culturally relevant symbols in the workplace: 2%
  • Other: 7%

Table 8: Question 4 -  Base: All respondents - current public servants; n=2,138.

Respondents were asked to identify the top three things that the federal public service should be offering to help Indigenous employees thrive and succeed. The most identified answers were:

  • Targeted leadership development opportunities (33%)
  • More opportunities for training and development (32%). 
  • Mentoring opportunities (22%)
  • Mentoring opportunities by other Indigenous employees (21%)

Respondents who selected “Other” identified some of the following suggestions:

  • Supportive and empathetic managers: who provide meaningful work, access to acting position opportunities, advancement opportunities, secondment and exchange opportunities with external employers, flexibility to attend ceremonies and on the land activities’ spotlight the great work of Indigenous employees; eliminate conflict of interest hiring
  • Language: Bilingual language exemptions; provision of Indigenous language training.
  • TRC training, Aboriginal day / week: to increase awareness, honour and respect Indigenous peoples, should be considered a priority for all employees / departments and have adequate funding for similar cross-cultural initiatives; Having spaces in workplace to practice culture
  • Equality and merit: Don’t think there should be preferential treatment everyone should have these opportunities / all should be equal as will lead to resentment by non-Indigenous staff or make Indigenous staff feel they did not receive positions of merit.
  • Career development: counselling; mentoring and Indigenous employee circle; recruitment from communities; more varied and flexibility in selection of training opportunities; Post-secondary funding support.
  • Self-identification: Problem of non-Indigenous people identifying as Indigenous.
Satisfaction with Employment

What is your current level of satisfaction with your employment as a federal public servant?

What is your current level of satisfaction with your employment as a federal public servant? (Current)
Text version
  • 7% were very dissatisfied
  • 15% were dissatisfied
  • 23% were neutral
  • 43% were satisfied
  • 13% were very satisfied

Table 9: Question 15 -Base: All respondents - current public servants; n=2,138.

When respondents were asked to select their current level of satisfaction as an employee in the federal public service, over half (56%) identified that they were very satisfied/ satisfied with their current employment. A lower number of employees (22%) selected very dissatisfied/dissatisfied” whereas, 23% selected neutral to the question.

The 2014 PSES asked respondents to rate their level of satisfaction with their department or agency.1 When compared to the 2017 Indigenous Workforce Retention survey (56%), Indigenous respondents in the PSES survey were more often satisfied (60% somewhat agree/strongly agree). Indigenous respondents to the PSES survey were slightly more dissatisfied (24%) when compared to the Indigenous workforce survey (22%). It should be noted, however, that the PSES survey asked about satisfaction with the department or agency, and the 2017 Retention survey question 15 asked about satisfaction with employment as a federal public servant. In addition, a higher percentage of Indigenous respondents (72%) in the PSES survey have a sense of satisfaction from their work (somewhat agree/strongly agree) compared to a similar question (15) in the 2017 Retention survey (56%).

Are you thinking of leaving your current position in the next two to three years?

Are you thinking of leaving your current position in the next 2-3 years? (Current)
Text version
  • 40% responded yes
  • 31% responded no
  • 30 said they were unsure.

Table 10: Question 8 - Base: All respondents - current public servants; n=2,138.

Nearly half of all respondents (40%) answered that they were thinking of leaving their current position in the next two to three years with a further 30% indicating they were not sure.

Please indicate where you are thinking of moving to next? (Mark one only)

: Please indicate where you are thinking of moving next (Current)
Text version
  • Look for another position within my department or agency: 19%
  • Look for a position at other levels of the public service: 18%
  • Retirement: 15%
  • Look for a position in another department or agency: 14%
  • Leave my current work environment but I’m not sure where I might go at this time: 9%
  • Look for a position in an indigenous organization: 5%
  • Look for a position in the private sector: 3%
  • Look for employment in my community: 2%
  • Return to school: 2%
  • Caregiving to a family member: 1%
  • Look for a position in a community based organization: 1%
  • Look for a position in the Not-for-Profit sector: less than 1%
  • Look for a position in a post-secondary institution: less than 1%
  • Other: 11%

Table 11: Question 9: Base: Current public servants indicating they are thinking of leaving their current position; n=1, 478.

When asked where they would be moving on to from their current position in the federal public service, 19% of survey respondents said that they would be “Looking for a position within my department or agency”, and 14% said they would be “Looking for a position in another department or agency”.

The 11% who selected “Other” indicated some of the following responses:

  • Look for a position closer to family or home / more rural area
  • Entrepreneur / start own business / company
  • Spousal relocation leave
  • After retirement volunteer or work with/for Indigenous organization / community
  • Indeterminate positions
  • Traditional role (i.e. healthcare)
  • Part-time to spend more time with children/family
  • Non-toxic / inclusive workplace who respects Indigenous world views, working for and with Indigenous peoples
  • Looking for promotions / advancement in general
What are the top three reasons why you are thinking about leaving your current position?
Reasons why you are thinking about leaving your current position? (Top 3 reasons) (Current)
Text version
  • I would like to gain further experience: 30%
  • Lack of future career opportunities in my organization: 26%
  • Recruitment and promotion are not always based on fair and transparent staffing processes: 24%
  • I want to earn more/ get a better compensation package: 19%
  • Lack of recognition in my organization for doing a good job: 16%
  • Senior leadership is of poor quality: 16%
  • Way things are done here does not meet my standards of integrity: 14%
  • More interesting opportunities elsewhere: 13%
  • Lack of personal and professional support by managers: 13%
  • To achieve a better work-life balance: 13%
  • Lack of respect or trust in my manager: 11%
  • The work is boring/doesn’t use my skills: 10%
  • My desire to change careers: 10%
  • I felt like an outsider/not part of the team: 9%
  • Personal reasons (e.g. family reasons): 8%
  • The lack of opportunity to work on “leading edge” projects: 7%
  • To move to another city/region/overseas: 5%
  • Other: 19%

Table 12: Question 10: Base: Current public servants indicating they are thinking of leaving their current position for a reason other than retirement; n=1, 263.

When asked why they were thinking about leaving their current position, respondents provided these top reasons:

  • I would like to gain further experience (30%)
  • Lack of future career opportunities in my organization (26%).
  • Some recruitment and promotions in my current organization are not always based on fair and transparent staffing processes (24%)

This finding is consistent with earlier findings regarding the lack of transparency in staffing positions within the federal government. For those who selected “other” (19%) spoke to instances of harassment, discrimination, toxic workplaces, or an environment contrary to their Indigenous values.

If you are thinking of leaving, what is your likelihood of returning to work in the federal public service in the future?

If you are thinking of leaving, what is your likelihood of returning to work in the Federal Public Service? (Current)
Text version
  • 12% said highly unlikely
  • 13% said somewhat unlikely
  • 30% said somewhat likely
  • 44% said highly likely

Table 13: Question 11 - Base: Current public servants indicating they are thinking of leaving their current position for a reason other than retirement; n=1,263.

When asked to rate the likelihood of their return to the federal public service after they’d moved on to another job, a high proportion of respondents (74%) selected that it was “Somewhat likely” to “Highly likely” that they would return while 25% said that it was “Somewhat unlikely” to “Highly unlikely” that they would return.

Analysis Open-ended Question – Current

A textual analysis of the open-ended question: “Do you have any further thoughts you would like to share about your experience working for the federal public service?” for recurring themes was conducted. Respondents generally spoke to suggestions, barriers, as well as positive and negative experiences in the following areas:

Theme 1) Advancement / Career Progress

Respondents who spoke of advancement frequently observed that there were few Indigenous federal public servants in executive or senior roles in the Federal Public Service and the desire to have Indigenous mentors in these roles.

The respondents who spoke of advancement positively indicated opportunities offered by management through support of goals, training, personal growth and development.

Respondents with less favourable views highlighted unfair, bureaucratic and/or nepotistic hiring practices for promotion. The following challenges were also identified: a lack of training opportunities and/or support from managers; discrimination or a lack of cultural awareness; budget cuts; and few opportunities in regions.

Theme 2) Leadership / Senior Management

Respondents cited issues of accountability in leadership, such as the under-reporting of discriminatory incidents, low levels of Indigenous hiring/promotion, and the need for performance evaluation of managers by their employees.

Respondents with positive experiences with senior management and supervisors revealed that they are flexible, supportive, accommodating, culturally aware, and offer mentorship.

Respondents with less favourable views described leadership and senior management in the following ways: a lack of cultural competencies; discrimination; and that they exhibit unsupportive leadership styles that make employees feel unvalued.

Theme 3) Cultural Awareness and Training

A large number of respondents spoke of the need for better awareness, education, interest and empathy towards the cultures and histories of Indigenous peoples by all federal public servants; however, there was a particular emphasis on the need for improvements among management and senior level positions. Other recurrent suggestions included: that non-Indigenous federal public servants visit the communities they serve; an increased accommodation of cultural and traditional lifestyles or events; and the recognition of the diversity of Indigenous peoples. Some respondents were concerned that the promotion of cultural competency training could become tokenistic, and that policies should treat all employees fairly rather than being specific to Indigenous peoples.

Respondents who experienced a positive view of cultural awareness and/or training spoke about: learning sessions, hosting cultural events within communities, supportive managers, access to culture in the workplace, and historical awareness. Furthermore, those who made references to a positive experience cited finding meaning or enjoyment in their work, or the benefit of a good work-life balance, which allowed them to care for their children.

Those with a negative view towards their workplace environment spoke about the following: discrimination, harassment, bullying and disrespectful workplaces. Some instances cited subtle incidents where as others were descriptive of direct discrimination. Discrimination was regularly mentioned in relation to management, unfair treatment, a lack of cultural awareness, and advancement or hiring opportunities. Furthermore, issues of stress, mental health, toxic or negative workplaces, and difficulties maintaining a good work-life balance due to a lack of support for flexible work arrangements or leave for cultural reasons.

Theme 4) Recruitment, Hiring and Retention

Indigenous Public Servants who described this theme in a negative view focused on the need for more targeted Indigenous hiring and recruitment, with an emphasis on women, collaboration with Indigenous educational institutions and placing jobs within or near Indigenous communities. Furthermore, barriers highlighted, included repeated examples, such as: unaccountable and unfair hiring processes; slow and complicated human resource practices (i.e. testing); and the issue of precarious employment (i.e. non-indeterminate positions).

Those who spoke in a positive light focused on the importance of mentorship opportunities and helping recruit new Indigenous federal public servants by making them aware of opportunities.

Theme 5) Training, Development and Education

In the open-ended responses, employees made suggestions relevant to this theme, such as: increased leadership and career development training; mentorship and guidance; networking opportunities; and coaching. In addition, respondents suggested increased support for continuing formal post-secondary education, through subsidization and accommodating work schedules.

Respondents who had positive experiences with this theme mentioned the importance of having access to mentorship, training and growth opportunities.

Respondents with a negative view of training opportunities, most often identified the largest barrier as a lack of language training opportunities, which most often identified French language training opportunities. This barrier was seen to impede advancement to more senior positions for Indigenous employees.

Survey findings – Former indigenous public servants

Recruitment

What originally attracted you to work for the federal public service? Please select the top 3 most important in your opinion.

Original attraction to the Federal Public Service (Former, n=51)
Text version
  • Ability to make a difference for indigenous people: 51%
  • Job security: 29%
  • Opportunities for career development/promotion: 27%
  • Challenging/interesting work: 27%
  • Good pay: 24%
  • Good benefits: 24%
  • Training/learning opportunities: 16%
  • Ability to make a difference for Canadians: 16%
  • Leaning/acquiring new skills on the job: 16%
  • Ability to use my education: 10%
  • Only available employment opportunity in my area: 8%
  • Ability to work in a diverse work environment: 8%
  • Predictable work schedule: 6%
  • Access to day care at work or in the community: 2%
  • Working in an Office/at desk: 2%
  • Other: 6%

Table 14: Question 1:. Base: All respondents - former public servants; n=51.

When compared to current employee respondents (25%), former employee respondents (51%) more frequently indicated “The ability to make a difference for Indigenous people” as one of the top reasons they were attracted to the federal public service. For both former (29%) and current (44%) employee respondents, job security was a frequently identified response to their original attraction to the public service. Both current and former respondents, found “Access to day care” (1%; 2%) and “Working in an office” (1%; 2%) to be less common reasons for attraction to join the federal public service. The 6% who replied “Other” emphasized the following:

  • Working to improve the lives of First Nations’ people / Assisting Indigenous people to have access to programs
  • Offered a summer student position / Replacement for maternity leave / Few jobs available
  • Opportunity to learn new processes, skills, knowledge and experiences

Recruitment Experiences: To what extent do you agree with the following questions about your previous employment with the federal public service.

Recruitment Experiences (Former)
Text version
  • First statement: My first federal public service job was what I expected
    • To the first statement, 8% strongly disagreed, 22% disagreed, 27% were neutral, 39% agreed and 4% strongly agreed.
  • Second statement: I had a good understanding of how the recruitment process worked
    • To the second statement: 1% strongly disagreed, 20% disagreed, 22% were neutral, 49% agreed and 8% strongly agreed
  • Third statement: I was satisfied with the recruitment process
    • To the third statement: 10% strongly disagreed, 22% disagreed, 20% were neutral, 43% agreed and 6% strongly agreed

Table 15: Question 2: Base: All respondents - former public servants; n=51.

Former respondents tended to be more negative than current respondents about their recruitment experiences.

When former respondents were asked “If their first federal public service job was what they expected”, 43% strongly agree/agree. Current respondents were more positive with 56% strongly agreeing/agreeing.

The majority of former respondents indicated having a “Good understanding of the recruitment process”(57% strongly agree/agree) 21% who strongly disagree/ disagree. When compared to former respondents (57%), current respondents had a slightly lower “Understanding of how the recruitment process worked” with only 51% strongly agreeing/agreeing.

When former respondentes were asked “If they were satisfied with the recruitment process”, 49% indicated strongly agree/ agree and 32% strongly disagree/disagree. When compared to the former cohort (49%), the current cohort was slightly more positive that they “were satisfied with the recruitment process” 56% strongly agree/ agree.

How could the federal public service improve its recruitment process for Indigenous people?

Improving recruitment processes (top 3 most important) (Former)
Text version
  • Collaboration with Indigenous institutions to expand recruitment of Indigenous employees: 45%
  • Indigenous recruiters: 41%
  • More indigenous co-op and internship opportunities: 37%
  • Cultural considerations in the assessment of interview answers: 33%
  • Provide personalized support to Indigenous applicants throughout the recruitment process 31%
  • Increase external posting: 25%
  • More culturally relevant interview questions: 18%
  • Better explanation of what to expect in the recruitment: 18%
  • Shorter application process: 14%
  • Less paperwork: 6%
  • Greater use of social media usage (e.g. Linked-in, Twitter…): 2%
  • Other: 18%

Table 16: Question 3 Base: All respondents - former public servants; n=51.

Both former (45%) and current (40%) Indigenous employee respondents indicated “Collaboration with Indigenous Institutions” as an important factor to improve the recruitment process. For both current and former employee respondents, “Indigenous recruiters” and “More Indigenous co-op and internship opportunities” were within the top three choices selected to improve recruitment. The 18% who selected “Other” identified the following:

  • Knowledge and experience, as well as grass roots individuals who speak an Indigenous language should be valued over education, ability to speak French, or a test
  • Scope of expectations and responsibilities framed out more cleary, as well as complex processes needed ot make change within and outside the federal system
  • Utilize and build awareness of the “Careers for Aboriginal People’s inventory”
  • Promote healing lodges
  • Eliminate racist mentality of recruiters
Learning and Development

To what extent do you agree that any of the following are important areas of learning and development?

To what extent do you agree that any of the following are important areas of learning and development: (Former)
Text version
  • Leadership development: 2% said somewhat unimportant, 22% said somewhat important, 76% said important.
  • Cultural competency training (e.g. understanding different cultures and the values of diversity): 2% said unimportant, 2% said somewhat unimportant, 27% said somewhat important and 69% said important.
  • Understanding how government operates: 4% said unimportant, 2% said somewhat unimportant, 37% said somewhat important and 57% said important.
  • Better understanding of competencies required to become a leader: 4% said unimportant, 4% said somewhat important, 39% said somewhat important and 53% said important.
  • Financial management: 4% said unimportant, 14% said somewhat unimportant, 35% said somewhat important and 47% said important.
  • Better understanding of my development needs: 4% said unimportant, 2% said somewhat unimportant, 47% said somewhat important and 47% said important.
  • Language training: 16% said unimportant, 16% said somewhat unimportant, 25% said somewhat important and 43% said important.
  • Other: 18% said unimportant, 9% said somewhat unimportant, 73% said important.

Table 17: Question 12: Base: All respondents - former public servants; n=51.

Similar to current employee respondents (72%), former employee respondents were most likely to identify “leadership development” (76%) as the most important area of learning and development. Interestingly, the majority of both current and former federal public servants rated all of these areas as “Somewhat important” to “Important”, indicating a high interest in these learning and development opportunities. Both current and former employee respondents were also more likely to select “Language training” (43%; 43%) and “Financial management” (42%; 47%) as “Unimportant” to “Somewhat unimportant” compared to other categories of learning and development.

Those who selected “Other” identified some of the following important areas of learning and development:

  • Government training
  • Strategic mentoring
  • Empathy and other interpersonal skills for non-Indigenous employees
  • Better training to develop resiliency
  • Education leave

Did you have access to the type of learning and development opportunities that you identified as important or very important in your previous employment with the federal public service? 

Did you have access to the type of learning and development opportunities that you identified as important or somewhat important in your previous employment with the Federal Public Service (Former)
Text version
  • 27% responded yes
  • 57 responded no
  • 16% responded don’t know.

Table 18: Question 13: Base: All respondents - former public servants; n=51.

When former employee respondents were asked if they had “Access to areas which they identified as important or somewhat important”, 11% didn’t know and 57% indicated not having access. Compared to former respondents, current respondents more often indicated they had access to these learning and development opportunities (52% with 37% who did not have access).

Challenges

What were the top 3 main challenges you faced when trying to access learning and development opportunities? 

What were the top 3 main challenges you faced when trying to access learning and development opportunities? (Former)
Text version
  • Budget constraints mean access is limited: 57%
  • Don’t feel there is equal access to learning & development opportunities: 49%
  • Work pressures mean there is no time for learning & development: 47%
  • My supervisor does not support learning and development: 25%
  • As far as I know, it is not available: 20%
  • Working in a remote location means travel costs to learning & development are prohibitive: 14%
  • Other: 25%

Table 19: Question 14: Base: All respondents - former public servants; n=51.

Former respondents were asked “What were the top 3 main challenges they faced when trying to access learning and development opportunities”. Both former and current respondents identified the following top three challenges to accessing learning and development: 1) “Budget constraints” (57%; 67%) 2) “Feelings of unequal access” (49%; 42%) and 3) “Work pressure” (47%; 66%). Compared to current respondents (11%), 25% of former respondents indicated having a “Supervisor that didn’t support learning and development” was a greater challenge to their accessibility to learning and development opportunities.

Former respondents who selected “Other” (25%) identified some of the following challenges of accessing learning and development opportunities:

  • Indigenous staff did not get support and non-Indigenous staff / friends of management continually went for training, got support and received mentoring
  • Term / casual / contract position / new employees limited opportunities
  • Sexism
  • Operational requirements and financial limitations
  • Management didn’t believe supporting furthering education would be perceived as fair

What challenges did you encounter while working for the public service? Select the top 3 most important options in your opinion.

: What are the top 3 challenges you have encountered in working for the Federal Public Service? (Former)
Text version
  • Feelings of discrimination: 41%
  • Lack of respect for Indigenous culture & values: 41%
  • Lack of career advancement opportunities: 39%
  • I feel stuck in my current job/ Limited for opportunities for mobility: 24%
  • Too many rules and procedures: 20%
  • Vacancies, often requires coverage of the responsibilities of 2 positions: 16%
  • Language skills requirements too high: 14%
  • Lack of supervisory support: 14%
  • Lack of coaching and mentoring: 14%
  • Lack of interest in administrative roles: 12%
  • Lack of flexible work arrangements: 8%
  • Lack of fit with work environment: 6%
  • Competing job market makes it less attractive for me to stay in government: 2%
  • Lack of interest in management roles (stressful): 2%
  • Lack of support in adjusting to the work environment: 2%
  • Insufficient childcare services/too expensive: 2%
  • Government work doesn’t accommodate my traditional lifestyle: 2%
  • Other: 20%

Table 20: Question 17: Base: All respondents - former public servants; n=51.

When former employee respondents were asked the “General challenges while working for the federal public service?” – the three top challenges identified included:

  • “Feelings of discrimination” (41%)
  • “Lack of respect for Indigenous culture and values” (41%)
  • “Lack of career advancement opportunities” (39%)

The top two challenges were much higher for former employee respondents than current employee respondents, indicating that this could have influenced their decision to leave and their overall dissatisfaction with employment. For both current (36%) and former (39%), “Lack of career advancement opportunities” was one of the main challenges.

Respondents who selected “Other” for challenges faced in the federal public service identified some of the following reasons:

  • Decisions and policies not informed by realities due to senior management and mechanistic bureaucracy creating barriers to progress on policy
  • Poor leadership: racism, blackmail, disrespectful, lack of appreciation, understaffing
  • Model did not support Indigenous staff for advancement, it was based on who you knew
  • Lack of meaningful work and resources to support communities
  • Staff unknowledgeable / promoted stereotypes about First Nations peoples
  • Poor work atmosphere
Supports

What should the federal public service be offering to help Indigenous employees thrive and succeed? Please select the top 3 most important in your opinion.

What should the Federal Public Service be offering to help Indigenous employees thrive and succeed? (top 3 most important) (Former)
Text version
  • Reduction in workplace discrimination: 39%
  • More opportunities for training and development: 35%
  • Colleagues who have good understanding of Indigenous culture and history: 33%
  • Targeted leadership development opportunities: 29%
  • More respectful workplace: 27%
  • Mentoring opportunities by other indigenous employees: 20%
  • More access to second language training: 20%
  • Greater equity: 18%
  • Mentoring opportunities: 16%
  • Networks for Indigenous employee: 10%
  • Reduction in rules and procedures: 10%
  • Culturally specific training programs for Indigenous employees: 8%
  • Culturally relevant support services: 6%
  • Encouragement of staff to participate in cultural events: 6%
  • Flexible work arrangements: 6%
  • Work-life balance: 6%
  • More diverse workforce: 2%
  • More culturally relevant symbols in the workplace: 2%
  • Other: 6%

Table 21: Question 4: Base: All respondents - former public servants; n=51.

Former employee respondents were asked to identify the top three things that the federal public service should be offering to help Indigenous employees thrive and succeed. Former employees were more likely than current employees to select “Reduction in workplace discrimination” (39%; 14%) and “Colleagues who have a good understanding of Indigenous culture and history” (33%; 17%). For both former and current employees “More opportunities for training & development” (35%; 32%) were within the top three most often selected.

Satisfaction / Leaving the Federal Public Service

When did you leave the public service, and what are the top 3 reasons why you decided to leave the federal public service? 

When did you leave the public service? (Former)
Text version
  • Less than one year: 20%
  • In the last 1-2 years: 14%
  • In the last 3-5 years: 31%
  • In the last 6-10 years: 14%
  • Over 10 years ago: 22%

Table 22: Question 7: Base: All respondents - former public servants; n=51.

The majority of former respondents left the federal public service in the last 5 years (65%).

Reasons why you decided to leave the Federal Public Service? (Former)
Text version
  • Senior leadership is of poor quality: 24%
  • The way things are done here does not meet my standards of integrity: 24%
  • Lack of respect or trust in my manager: 22%
  • Lack of personal and professional support by managers: 20%
  • I felt like an outsider/not part of the team: 18%
  • Lack of future career opportunities in my organization: 16%
  • The lack of opportunity to work on “leading edge” projects: 16%
  • Lack of recognition in my organization for doing a good job: 14%
  • Personal reasons (e.g. family reasons): 14%
  • Recruitment and promotion are not always based on fair and transparent staffing processes: 10%
  • Found another, more interesting opportunity: 8%
  • I would like to gain further experience: 6%
  • The work is boring/doesn’t use my skills: 6%
  • My desire to change careers: 4%
  • To move to another city/region/overseas: 4%
  • To achieve a better work-life balance: 2%
  • I want to earn more/ get a better compensation package: 2%
  • Other: 39%

Table 23: Question 8: Base: All respondents - former public servants; n=51.

The majority of former employee respondents left the federal public service 3-5 years ago, for the main reasons of:

  • Senior leadership of poor quality (24%)
  • Way things are done does not meet standards of integrity (24%)
  • Lack of respect or trust in my manager (22%)

These reasons for former respondents contrasted to current respondents, who indicated they may be leaving because they want to “Gain further experience” (30%), “Lack future career opportunities in their organization” (26%), and they “Feel recruitment and promotions are not based on fair and transparent processes” (24%).

Former respondents who selected “Other” (39%) and specified their response indicated that they left due to difficulties such as:

  • Workplace conflict unresolved / bullying / sexual harassment / racism / lack of accessibility/ sick leave
  • Paternalistic and disrespectful leadership
  • Not being granted education leave
  • Uninteresting work
  • Not hired back, contract ended or position terminated / not indeterminate
  • Early retirement
  • Language qualifications

What is your likelihood of returning to work in the Federal public service?

What is your likelihood of returning to work in the Federal Public Service? (Former)
Text version
  • 39% said highly unlikely
  • 25% said somewhat unlikely
  • 24% said somewhat likely
  • 12% said highly likely

Table 24: Question 10: Base: All respondents - former public servants; n=51.

The likelihood of former employee respondents returning to the federal public service was collectively low – with 34% indicating very likely/somewhat likely.

Are you happy with your decision to leave the federal public service?

Are you happy with your decision to leave the Federal Public Service? (Former)
Text version
  • 49% responded yes
  • 8% responded don’t know
  • 14% responded no
  • 29% responded somewhat

Table 25: Question 11: Base: All respondents - former public servants; n=51.

Overall respondents appear happy with their decision to leave the federal public service (Yes to Somewhat 78%).

What was your overall level of satisfaction with your new employment? And what was your overall level of satisfaction with your employment as a Federal public servant?

What is your current level of satisfaction with your employment? (Former)
Text version
  • 16% were dissatisfied
  • 22% were neutral
  • 33% were satisfied
  • 29% were very satisfied

Table 26: Question 16: Base: All respondents - former public servants; n=51.


What was your overall level of satisfaction with your employment as a federal public servant? (Former)
Text version
  • 14% were very dissatisfied
  • 29% were dissatisfied
  • 22% were neutral
  • 33% were satisfied
  • 2% were very satisfied

Table 27: Question 15 Base: All respondents - former public servants; n=51.

Former respondents were mostly split between their satisfaction (35%) or dissatisfaction (43%) with their employment in the federal public service. Former employees are more satisfied with their current employment outside of the federal public service (62% very satisfied/ satisfied), compared to 56% of current respondents with their employment as a federal public servant. Compared to current employee respondents (22%), former employee respondents (43%) were more often very dissatisfied/dissatisfied with their employment in the federal public service.

Open-ended Question Analysis – Former Indigenous Federal Public Servants

In response to the question “Do you have any further thoughts you would like to share about your experience working for the federal public service?” the main theme that emerged was the issue of discrimination, and unfair treatment of Indigenous peoples in the federal public service. Respondents spoke of experiencing discrimination in relation to: a lack of accountability and respect exhibited by management; peers questioning their credentials; harassment; inadequate options for recourse; systemic discrimination within programs (i.e. reporting requirements and us vs. them mentality); hierarchical power dynamics; and the need for cultural knowledge and sensitivity for non-Indigenous staff.

In addition, the open-ended responses of former employees emphasized the need to increase Indigenous representation in executive positions, and to support advancement opportunities for Indigenous employees, particularly in regional offices. As well, Indigenous employees indicated opportunities for lateral movement across sectors or departments as important. Specific recommendations suggested implementing the mandatory use of the “Careers for Aboriginal Peoples Inventory”, and a holistic Federal Indigenous Executive program.

Those who responded positively spoke about: their passion with working with partners on reserves; interesting work; supportive management and colleagues within their branch; and good salary and benefits.

Section II: Summary of key survey findings

This survey was undertaken with a view of developing a deeper understanding of the recruitment and workplace experiences of Indigenous employees within the federal public service. The survey reached a total of 2,138 current and 51 former Indigenous federal public servants. The findings from this consultation are presented based on five key sections:

  • Recruitment
  • Supports
  • Learning and Development
  • Challenges and
  • Satisfaction and Retention.

Recruitment

The survey results indicate that among both former and current Indigenous respondents, job security, good benefits and pay are among the main attractions to employment in the federal public service. However, the ability to make a difference for Indigenous people was identified as an important factor that attracted former employees to work for the federal public service – ranked over twice as much by former employees compared to current employees. A recent Harvard Business Review report found that opportunities to learn and grow and quality of the manager and management as key factors all generations look for when applying for a job2. The findings of this survey would indicate that financial compensation and job security are more important to current employees, with opportunities to learn and grow and ability to make a difference for Indigenous people being ranked fourth and fifth among the items assessed.

Indigenous respondents did not indicate a strong level of agreement with any of the areas assessed in relation to recruitment. Approximately half of current and former employees indicated an understanding of how the recruitment process worked (51% and 57% respectively). In addition, just over half of all current employee respondents (56%) strongly agreed/agreed that they had a high level of satisfaction with the recruitment process (compared to 49% of former employees). Probably the most noteworthy is that 56% of current and 43% of former employees strongly agreed/agreed that their first job in the federal public service was what they expected. This represents a significant disconnect between expectations and the reality that Indigenous people encounter in the federal public service.

Workplace Supports

Both current and former employee respondents envision a work environment that is supportive of Indigenous employees and is “respectful”, “inclusive” and “supportive”. However, former employee respondents also emphasized a work environment that is “understanding” of Indigenous histories and cultures. Key themes that emerged from the open-ended question for current employee respondents also noted the need for better awareness, education, interest and empathy towards the cultures and histories of Indigenous peoples by all federal public servants; with a particular emphasis on management and senior level positions.

Former and current employees agreed that more opportunities for training and development would be a key support the federal public service could offer Indigenous employees to thrive and succeed. However, current employees emphasized targeted leadership development and mentoring opportunities as more important compared to the former group. In addition, the former group found reduction in workplace discrimination, and colleagues who have a good understanding of Indigenous cultures, to be more vital areas of support. These results were echoed in the open-ended questions as respondents who have had positive experiences with their employment mentioned the importance of having access to mentorship, a supportive relationship with their manager and training and growth opportunities.

Learning and Development

Both current and former employee respondents had great interest in accessing a diversity of learning and development opportunities. Leadership development was most important to both former and current employee respondents, which was also emphasized in responses to the open-ended question. Cultural competency training was important for both current and former Indigenous employees but was of greater importance for former employee respondents. Current employees were more likely to indicate that understanding their own development needs was important or somewhat important.

The responses of both survey cohorts to the open-ended question identified the need for greater cultural awareness and sensitivity, particularly in management.

Approximately 50% of current employee respondents indicated they had access to the type of learning and development opportunities they found somewhat important or important compared to 27% of former employee respondents. It may be that a lack of access to learning and development opportunities is a contributing factor to their decision to leave.

When both former and current employee respondents were asked about the challenges they face specifically in accessing learning and development opportunities there was broad agreement around the top three reasons: budget constraints, work pressures and that they don’t feel there is equal access. In the open-ended question, current employee respondents highlighted the challenge of language requirements being a barrier to advancement.

Challenges Encountered in the Workplace

Current and former employee respondents were asked to identify challenges encountered while working in the federal public service. A lack of career advancement and limited mobility opportunities were identified as one of the top four challenges faced by both current and former employee respondents. This challenge was emphasized in the demographics findings, as 35% of current and 47% of former employees obtained no promotions despite the majority of both groups applying for promotions. Former employers ranked feelings of discrimination and lack of respect for Indigenous cultures as the two greatest challenges encountered in their work environment (ranked 7th and 5th for current employee respondents). Responses to the open-ended questions mirrored the challenges emphasized above. The challenges to advancement described in the responses to the open-ended questions were often due to unsupportive management, a lack of development opportunities, unfair promotional practices, and harassment and discrimination.

The level of harassment and discrimination in the federal public service has been tracked overtime through the Public Service Employee Service (PSES). The 2014 PSES found that 30% of Indigenous respondents and 18% non-Indigenous respondents had encountered harassment in the workplace. The 2014 PSES found that 15% of Indigenous respondents and 8% of non-Indigenous respondents had encountered discrimination in the workplace. A similar percentage of current Indigenous respondents (17%) identified feelings of discrimination when asked to identify the top 3 challenges they have encountered in working for the federal public service (see Table 7).

In the 2014 PSES, 40% of Indigenous respondents and 43% of non-Indigenous respondents strongly agree/agree that they have opportunities for promotion or career development within [their] department. This might imply that career advancement and mobility is a greater issue for Indigenous employees but still an area for improvement for both current non-Indigenous and Indigenous employee groups.

The issue of career advancement is a reoccurring theme in this survey, which reinforces the consideration for targeted Indigenous development programs.

Satisfaction and Retention

A total of 56% of current respondents are satisfied to very satisfied with their employment. In contrast, only 35% of former employee respondents were satisfied to very satisfied with their employment in the public service. Former employee respondents indicated being much more satisfied with their current employment (62%) outside of the federal public service. A total of 64% of all respondents to the 2014 Public Service Employee Survey indicated they strongly/somewhat agreed that they were satisfied with their department or agency. In contrast, the 2012 Randstad Work monitor study found that Canadians are among the happiest workers in the world with 76% of all Canadian workers indicating being ‘very satisfied’ or ‘satisfied’ at work. This is an indication that the satisfaction among Indigenous respondents is lower than expected and not ideal from an employer’s perspective.

Of the current employee respondents, 40% indicated yes, to leaving their current position in the next 2-3 years. This result greatly differs with the 2014 Public Service Employee Survey, where only 26% of Indigenous employees indicated they intended to leave their current position in the next two years. These results may suggest that Indigenous employees want to leave their position in the near future more than the overall Public Service.

Today employers are encouraging mobility among employees as a form of development. The top reason current Indigenous respondents are thinking about leaving is to gain further experience; however, the second reason is a lack of future career opportunities and that recruitment and promotions are not always based on fair and transparent staffing processes.

Section III) Summary of dialogue circles discussions

Recruitment

Attraction to the Federal Public Service

Most participants seemed to have entered the federal government through a student work program such as FSWEP, the former Native Internship Program or through a targeted Public Service workfare.

The key factor that originally attracted both former and current employees to the federal public service was an opportunity to make a difference for Indigenous peoples and their own communities.  All groups of respondents did identify job stability, good pay and benefits as other key factors that attracted them to the federal public service, especially while raising a family or when working in the NCR region, since the federal government is a large employer in this area.

While some of the current participants still find that they are able to make a difference; former employees more strongly emphasized the hope to “change the system from within”. Former employees also emphasized the questions they receive from their communities about why they would work for the federal government. This can lead to employees feeling like “traitors” since the federal government is often viewed with mistrust or a negative light by Indigenous peoples due to historical and current policies.

As noted by Dialogue participants:

“I feel very lucky and fortunate to have worked in the federal government.”

“I left the federal government at one point in my career to pursue jobs that would allow me to have a greater impact on the lives of Indigenous people.  I returned to work for the federal government when I was starting a family in order to have a better work-life balance.”

“I have had many good experiences over the years that have had big impacts.  But those windows for going in and making change or having an impact have become increasingly more difficult to do as years went by – it is starting to get harder to have an influence on decisions that impact Indigenous people.”

Acknowledge Diversity in Recruitment

Participants also emphasized that any recruitment or hiring strategy must recognize the diversity of Indigenous peoples, contrasting the urban versus reserve experience, and the many First Nations, Inuit and Métis identities. Furthermore, groups discussed that regional offices will have different experiences and needs compared to the NCR region, in regards to recruitment, hiring and retention. The Indigenous Youth Summer Employment Opportunity launched in 2016 was seen as an important step forward to expanding recruitment opportunities for Indigenous peoples but were critical that it was only open to a limited number of students and only offered work opportunities in the National Capital Region. Some participants felt the federal public service had “given up” on Indigenous adults, as the majority of opportunities are for youth rather than for early to mid-career level. There was some discussion of the need to raise awareness within Indigenous communities of federal employment opportunities.

Self-Identification

The Dialogue Circles found that while identifying as an Indigenous person can provide opportunities in early / mid-career, as one moves up in the organization it can become a barrier to advancement particularly into executive positions. As noted by one participant (in reference to advancement into the executive cadre).

“I completed all of the hoops I was told I must get through but then you hit the Indigenous ceiling and get pushed back. There is a point at which being labeled as an Indigenous employee becomes a barrier”.

Meanwhile, they noticed fellow colleagues with similar or less experience getting promotions. As well, participants indicated feeling resentment from colleagues if their position was targeted for Indigenous peoples, or that colleagues made Indigenous employees feel like they did not receive the position based on merit. Therefore, some participants indicated knowledge of Indigenous colleagues who choose not to self-identify.

In one Dialogue Circle, participants noted discrimination within the hiring system and felt that positions that were designated for Indigenous persons often require higher levels of education. For example, one participant stated that, “as soon as the word Indigenous is attached to a targeted job posting, the position often requires a university degree”, whereas for the same position, this level of education is not required for a non-Indigenous person.

There was some discussion that self-identifying as an Indigenous person may pigeonhole the person on Indigenous files. One participant noted that they were unable to get opportunities in their field after identifying as Indigenous, as the only opportunities that then became available were in Indigenous policy and program areas.

Employees were most divided on the issue of self-identification and how best to assess Indigenous candidates particularly those applying for Indigenous-specific job postings. For example, one participant did not think an individual who recently learned their great-grandparent was First Nations should identify – given the limited knowledge or connection with this identity. The subtleties of identity allude to the ongoing reclamation of culture, language and identity of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Participants also pointed to the problem of non-Indigenous federal public servants falsely identifying as Indigenous to receive employment equity hiring.

In a number of the discussions around self-identification, many noted that Indigenous people, who are ‘visibly’ Indigenous, often experience greater levels of discrimination and barriers. Participants stated that future research is needed to assess whether Indigenous employees experience a different level of discrimination. For example, they suggested further analysis of the level of discrimination and experiences of visibly Indigenous versus non-visibly Indigenous employees – either through the PSES or other means. In addition, future surveys should include information, which distinguishes between on-reserve and off-reserve and/or urban respondents to highlight the different experiences of these realities.

Barriers in the Interview Process

The interview process was seen as a challenge to advancement, because it was not seen as transparent, and culturally considerate of Indigenous values, which often emphasize humility or more introverted personality traits. A number of participants indicated they failed the “personal suitability” section and two noted being ranked at zero on personal suitability. Participants spoke of how upsetting and emotionally harmful this was. The hiring process, after recruitment, was seen as bureaucratic and burdensome, particularly without knowledge of how the system works or “knowing how to play the game”. The lack of understanding of Indigenous histories and culture was noted by a former participant who was required to take an IQ test as part of the assessment process; who further indicated this was not a requirement for other non-Indigenous employees.

Workplace Supports

Valuing Indigenous Experiences

Participants across all groups recommend developing a strong sense and understanding of the Indigenous histories and culture across the federal public service and valuing the experience Indigenous people bring to the workplace. Examples, such as Aboriginal awareness week activities, incorporating Indigenous teachings into daily work, a charter of values, elders’ programs and formalized Indigenous networks, were seen as important mechanisms for increasing the understanding and the value placed on Indigenous culture. Participants found that although some of these opportunities do exist, access is limited to only some departments or is poorly advertised and developed.

A more inclusive and supportive work environment was desired by participants, as they often did not find they were included in decision making and meetings on Indigenous issues, or that their skills were not being put to use.

Participants recommended that experience and knowledge of Indigenous communities should be increasingly used as a necessary qualification for positions that interface with or impact Indigenous communities. Participants noted the irony of how the majority of non-Indigenous public servants working on Indigenous files have “very little empathy, feelings of responsibility or understanding of Indigenous communities” and many have never even visited a community. One participant noted “it would be like getting hired as a mechanic without knowing anything about cars”.

Learning and Development

Participants noted the importance of Indigenous leaders in driving the change process including breaking down stereotypes and barriers. All groups observed that there should be greater Indigenous representation at the senior levels of the Public Service.

Lack of Training and Development for non-Indigenous employees

English current and former groups found a serious lack of training and development opportunities available to them, often due to limited time or money allotted. For those who did receive training and development, they did not feel like they were able to make use of these new capabilities. They highlighted the disparities of opportunities between regions and the NCR, as well as smaller agencies versus larger departments. For example, the Aboriginal Management Development Program at Health Canada, and the Aboriginal Leadership Development Initiative at INAC were viewed as great opportunities but limited to these departments. Many Dialogue Circles described poor support from management to pursue further education, language training and leadership development. As noted by one participant: “my manager told me – you know the rest of us have to pay for our own degrees”.

In contrast to the English Dialogue Circles, the French Dialogue Circle was slightly more positive about the training and advancement opportunities they had available, although a few who have been in the public service for over 20 years felt that advancement opportunities are narrowing or stagnating and that targeted leadership opportunities should be increasing not decreasing. Former employee participants encouraged the federal public service to look outwards for learning and training opportunities for staff, such as events at post-secondary institutions.

Debate over Leadership Training Programs

There was debate as to whether leadership training programs should be offered to Indigenous employees in a stream separate from the broader Public Service. Participants were in agreement that targeted leadership and management training is needed for those below executive level positions to help prepare them for entry into the executive cadre, as well as targeted development programs at the executive level.  Those who advocated for separate training emphasized the benefits of having the support, comfort and network of fellow Indigenous employees.

It was suggested that all existing leadership programs be reviewed to ensure they are culturally appropriate and sensitive. 

Cultural / Historical Awareness Among Non-Indigenous Employees

Among the suggestions for change, increasing the knowledge and awareness among non-Indigenous employees about Indigenous histories and cultures was strongly supported by all dialogue participants. It was recommended that this training be mandatory, accessible to all, and acknowledge the darker aspects of the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the Government of Canada.

It was further suggested that training for all management and senior management positions should include experiential learning such as spending considerable time in an Indigenous community. This may reduce discrimination, harassment, and ignorant comments participants mentioned they have experienced from colleagues and managers. Participants with private sector experience felt they were more easily able to speak the truth to power but found in the public sector there was significant power dynamics at play under the surface. One former participant stated that all federal public servants must realize “the power and privilege that culture has” when engaging with Indigenous communities as “relationships are based on faith [but] the bureaucracy wants to maintain this power”.

Mentorship

The majority of participants welcomed the possibility of more mentorship opportunities for Indigenous employees, although many also noted the challenge of maintaining mentorship programs. They emphasized the importance of committed time by mentees and clearly outlining outcomes of the relationship. There was no agreement as to whether the mentor should be Indigenous or non-Indigenous. However, many saw a positive cultural benefit from an exchange between Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees. One Dialogue Circle noted this could ensure successful succession planning for senior Indigenous employees.

Workplace Satisfaction and Challenges

Hopeful but Sceptical of Change

All groups did speak to feelings of gratitude for their opportunity to work for the federal government, as well as satisfaction of working on interesting or meaningful files and policies. Participants across groups were quite pleased with the new government and the increased focus on Indigenous peoples, communities and issues, but remained sceptical as to whether the commitments would translate into concrete and meaningful actions.

Former respondents indicated being dissatisfied with their work environments, stating that they had expected more opportunities to be creative and make change that really matters, but that they felt detached from communities and constrained by hierarchical management and risk aversion. One former participant stated that it is “paralyzing and heartbreaking” to try and make change “internal to those four walls with so many controls which inhibit actual engagement at the community level”. 

Both former and current employees found that their ability to make a difference and build relationships with Indigenous communities was increasingly constrained by bureaucracy, hierarchy or a paternalistic culture. Former participants stated feeling some of the following:

“I felt as if my soul was dying.”

“I began realizing I was letting people down.”

“I felt I was committing professional suicide if I were to stay.”

Inconsistent Application of Policies

A number of participants in the 3 English Dialogue Circles discussed the inconsistent application of policies as impacting their level of satisfaction.  The policies most referred to include: recruitment/staffing; appointment; distribution of / access to training and development opportunities; and requests for leave.

For those who did complain to HR about this, they felt that they were either not taken seriously or seen as a complainer.

Language a Barrier to Advancement

The French Dialogue Circle did not find learning a second language as a challenge whereas all of the English Dialogue Circles found this a major barrier to mobility and advancement. Many feel that their ability to move within the federal government is limited without having both English and French language capabilities. Many noted barriers to accessing French language training due to limited time offered by managers to take language training or the lack of access to language training for those on term positions.

Many also felt that having an Indigenous language was not valued within the federal government.  Participants suggested that an equivalent to the bilingual bonus be offered to those who speak an Indigenous language in positions that deal with Indigenous communities. Participants recommended a reduction in the requirements for French as a second language, particularly when working with Anglophone Indigenous communities.

Recommendations were also made about creating a work environment where Indigenous employees feel comfortable speaking their own language. One participant mentioned being chastised for speaking their own Indigenous language with colleagues as a non-Indigenous employee complained they “must be talking about them behind their back”.

Some of the participants found it an imposition to learn another language, given their history of a second language being imposed through residential schools.

Dominant Perceptions of Indigenous peoples

Participants mentioned negative perceptions of Indigenous peoples within the federal public service. Participants who see their “clients” as Indigenous people, and who advocate on behalf of Indigenous employees often feel they are labelled as “troublemakers or a liability”. In these instances, Indigenous employees believe their advocacy on behalf of Indigenous employees impedes their advancement as they are viewed (particularly by management) as working towards different goals or advocating for Indigenous communities, as opposed to serving Canadians more broadly, the Crown or central agencies.

One former employee participant, who had worked in the federal public service since the 1970s until recently, indicated that they hadn’t witnessed a significant amount of change in the federal public service work environment over the last 40 years. These perceptions were attributed to: negative attitudes towards Indigenous peoples, the Indian Act, and senior leadership who promote – “yes people” – in their own image. Participants suggested the need for senior management buy-in and fully supporting diversity in the workplace. A few participants suggested using the performance appraisal process to hold managers to account for hiring and developing Indigenous employees. 

Tokenism and Stereotypes

A dominant theme that emerged from the Dialogue Circles was the issue of feeling “tokenized” and the task of constantly defending or explaining Indigenous histories and cultures to non-Indigenous colleagues. Participants indicated many instances of being brought out for photo opportunities and/or asked to participate in events as an Indigenous employee. Participants emphasized their pride of their diverse identities, histories and cultures but they resent their Indigenous identity only being recognized when it is convenient to management. As noted by one new employee to the federal government

It was further explained that when it really matters such as designing a policy or program intended for Indigenous communities and people, Indigenous employees did not feel they were called upon to share their Indigenous experience and knowledge.  The issue of tokenism was seen as increasing with a new government mandate, which is so heavily focused on Indigenous issues.

The lack of understanding of culture and history contribute to feelings of discrimination and/or harassment in the workplace. One participant was told if they filed harassment or discrimination complaints it would “wreck their career” and others found their complaint was not reviewed through an objective investigation processes.

Lack of Leadership and Champions for Indigenous Employees

In regards to retention, all groups emphasized the ability to make change for Indigenous peoples and good leadership as factors that would encourage them to stay.

Former participants indicated they had limited support from senior management and unnecessary bureaucracy in human resources when positions were terminated, or term positions completed and not renewed. The former group did not feel valued by their teams or management and were not given the opportunity to participate in exit interviews. A former participant noted for those working on high profile, emotionally draining files, that mental health and wellness support for employees were not offered during or after their employment – leading to devastating circumstances. In this case, when the program was terminated, the Indigenous employees felt used, and were not supported to find new positions.

The current Dialogue Circles also echoed this disappointment in the system, one participant stated: “a reasonable person in an unreasonable environment will never have success - solutions are not reasonable”. Many participants noted that they feel that Indigenous employees were disproportionately terminated during the Deficit Reduction Action Plan (DRAP).

Appendix A) Demographics

Sample Size 

Employee Type - Survey respondents:

  • Current Public Servant: 2138
  • Former Public Servant: 51

Current Indigenous Public Servants Survey Respondents – Demographic Profile

Top Occupational Groups (Current)
Text version 
  • AS: 11%
  • CO: 1%
  • CR: 10%
  • CS: 4%
  • CX: 4%
  • EC: 6%
  • EG: 2%
  • EX: 2%
  • FB: 3%
  • MG: 3%
  • PE : 1%
  • PM : 15%
  • SP : 11%
  • WP : 6%
  • Other (AB, AC, PM, AU, BI, EN, FI, FS, GT, IS, LP, NU, PC, PG, REG, SU) : 21%

Question 18 : Please indicate your occupational group and level. Base: All respondents – current public servants; n=2,138.

Current Indigenous Public Servants Survey Respondents: Demographic Profile
Positions held/worked in for the Federal public service
1 15%
2-3 36%
4-5 22%
Over 5 27%
Employment status
Indeterminate 89%
Casual 2%
Term 6%
Student 2%
Other 1%
Age
24 years and under 3%
25 to 29 years 5%
30 to 34 years 9%
35 to 39 years 12%
40 to 44 years 16%
45 to 49 years 20%
50 to 54 years 20%
55 to 59 years 11%
60 years and over 6%
No answer <1%
Gender
Male 33%
Female 66%
Other 1%
No answer <1%
First Language
English 79%
French 17%
Indigenous language 4%
Other  1%
Consider themselves bilingual
Yes- English- French 29%
Yes- French- Indigenous Language 0%
Yes- English- Indigenous Language 7%
Others 2%
No 63%
Level ranked for second language
Learner –A 6%
Semi-fluent speaker – B 33%
Fluent speaker - C 27%
Exempted - E 34%
Speakers of an Indigenous language
Fluent 3%
Semi-fluent 6%
Learner 24%
No 67%
Indigenous Group
Inuit 3%
Metis 40%
First Nations 58%
Education
Secondary or high school graduation certificate, or equivalent or less 20%
Diploma or certificate from a community college, CEGEP, etc., or a trades certificate or diploma 30%
University certificate or diploma below the bachelor’s level 7%
Bachelor’s degree 26%
University certificate or diploma above the bachelor’s level 4%
Post-secondary degree including a master’s degree, a professional degree or an earned doctorate 13%
Region
National Capital Region 29%
Ontario (excluding National Capital Region) 14%
Quebec (excluding National Capital Region) 5%
Northwest Territories 1%
Nunavut 1%
Yukon 1%
British Columbia 16%
Alberta 11%
Saskatchewan 8%
Manitoba 9%
New Brunswick 1%
Nova Scotia 3%
Prince Edward Island <1%
Newfoundland and Labrador 1%
Outside of Canada <1%
Have family or care-giver responsibilities that impact availability to work
Yes 34%
No 66%
Number of years worked in current department
Less than a year 5.5%
1 to 5 years 21.6%
6 to 10 years 25.9%
11 to 15 years 16.1%
16 to 20 years 16.5%
21 to 25 years 7.7%
26 to 30 years 4.9%
More than 30 years 1.7%
Years worked in Federal Government
Less than a year 2.7%
1 to 5 years 13.0%
6 to 10 years 22.2%
11 to 15 years 18.0%
16 to 20 years 20.5%
21 to 25 years 10.3%
26 to 30 years 9.2%
More than 30 years 3.8%
Number of promotions applied for in the Federal public service
1 11%
2-3 27%
4 or more 42%
None 17%
Don’t know 3%
Successful promotions obtained in the Federal public service
1 24%
2-3 28%
4 or more 10%
None 35%
Don’t know 2%

Former Indigenous Public Servants Survey Respondents– Demographic Profile

Top Occupational Groups (Former)
Text version 
  • AS: 10%
  • CR: 12%
  • CS: 6%
  • EC: 4%
  • EX: 6%
  • FB : 2%
  • GT : 2%
  • MG : 2%
  • PE : 4%
  • PM : 23%
  • WP : 4%
  • Other : 25%

Question 19: Please indicate your recent occupational group and level before you left the federal public service. Base: All respondents - former public servants; n=51.

Former Indigenous Public Servants Survey Respondents: Demographic Profile
Positions held/worked in for the Federal public service
1 20%
2-3 31%
4 or more 39%
None 6%
No answer 4%
Employment status
Indeterminate 73%
Casual 6%
Term 10%
Student 6%
Other 2%
Current field of work
Other levels of Federal public service 10%
Private sector 20%
Post-secondary institution 10%
Not-for-profit sector 2%
Employment in my community 6%
Community based organization 4%
Indigenous organization 20%
Student 2%
Caregiver / parent 2%
Other 22%
No answer 4%
Age
24 years and under 4%
25 to 29 years 8%
35 to 39 years 14%
40 to 44 years 29%
45 to 49 years 24%
50 to 54 years 6%
55 to 59 years 16%
60 years and over 4%
Gender
Male 33%
Female 65%
Other 2%
First Language
English 78%
French 2%
Indigenous language 20%
Consider themselves bilingual
Yes- English- French 10%
Yes- French- Indigenous Language 6%
Yes- English- Indigenous Language 18%
No 67%
Level ranked for second language
Learner –A 6%
Semi-fluent speaker – B 18%
Fluent speaker - C 53%
Exempted - E 24%
Speakers of an Indigenous language
Fluent 16%
Semi-fluent 12%
Learner 31%
No 41%
Indigenous Group
Inuit 4%
Metis 10%
First Nations 86%
Education
Secondary or high school graduation certificate, or equivalent or less 10%
Diploma or certificate from a community college, CEGEP, etc., or a trades certificate or diploma 29%
University certificate or diploma below the bachelor’s level 12%
Bachelor’s degree 20%
University certificate or diploma above the bachelor’s level 2%
Post-secondary degree including a master’s degree, a professional degree or an earned doctorate 27%
Region
National Capital Region 43%
Ontario (excluding National Capital Region) 16%
Quebec (excluding National Capital Region) 4%
British Columbia 12%
Alberta 8%
Saskatchewan 6%
Manitoba 4%
New Brunswick 2%
Nova Scotia 4%
Newfoundland and Labrador 2%
Have family or care-giver responsibilities that impact availability to work
Yes 14%
No 86%
Years worked in the Federal public service
Less than a year 2.0
1 to 5 years 33.3
6 to 10 years 19.6
11 to 15 years 17.6
16 to 20 years 7.8
21 to 25 years 7.8
26 to 30 years 3.9
More than 30 years 7.8
Number of promotions applied for in the Federal public service
1 4%
2-3 27%
4 or more 33%
None 31%
Don’t know 4%
Successful promotions obtained in the Federal public service
1 20%
2-3 20%
4 or more 12%
None 47%
Don’t know 2%

Annex 3 - Summary: Executive data

The Executive Population: Level, Sex, Equity Status

March 2011 and March 2016

Fiscal year EX Women non-equity seeking Men non-equity seeking Indigenous women Indigenous men Visible minority women Visible minority men PWD Women PWD Men
No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. %
2011 EX 01 1,076 38.36% 1,223 43.6% 73 2.6% 49 1.75% 110 3.92% 131 4.67% 65 2.32% 90 3.21%
EX 02 397 34.31% 565 48.83% 22 1.9% 22 1.9% 37 3.2% 42 3.63% 34 2.94% 43 3.72%
EX 03 295 35.41% 418 50.18% 9 1.08% * * 26 3.12% 41 4.92% * * * *
EX 04 80 38.65% 108 52.17% * * * * * * * * * * * *
EX 05 25 27.17% 57 61.96% * * * * * * * * * * * *
Total 1,873 36.77% 2,371 46.54% 109 2.14% 83 1.63% 180 3.53% 223 4.38% 118 2.32% 162 3.18%
2012 EX 01 1,089 39.06% 1,185 42.5% 70 2.51% 52 1.87% 114 4.09% 139 4.99% 64 2.3% 88 3.16%
EX 02 402 34.84% 563 48.79% 20 1.73% 16 1.39% 34 2.95% 46 3.99% 31 2.69% 43 3.73%
EX 03 304 36.45% 405 48.56% 12 1.44% * * 26 3.12% 37 4.44% 18 2.16% 25 3.0%
EX 04 76 35.85% 112 52.83% * * * * * * * * * * * *
EX 05 27 29.67% 56 61.54% * * * * * * * * * * * *
Total 1,898 37.77% 2,321 45.7% 106 2.09% 84 1.65% 181 3.56% 233 4.59% 117 2.3% 161 3.17%
2013 EX 01 1,008 38.75% 1,097 42.18% 66 2.54% 52 2% 112 4.31% 136 5.23% 59 2.27% 84 3.23%
EX 02 383 35.27% 531 48.9% 19 1.75% 15 1.38% 34 3.13% 41 3.78% 28 2.58% 36 3.31%
EX 03 298 36.74% 398 49.08% 10 1.23% * * 26 3.21% 32 3.95% 15 1.85% 26 3.21%
EX 04 67 35.64% 100 53.19% * * * * * * * * * * * *
EX 05 22 26.83% 51 62.2% * * * * * * * * * * * *
Total 1,778 37.29% 2,177 45.66% 98 2.06% 79 1.66% 180 3.78% 219 4.59% 105 2.2% 151 3.17%
2014 EX 01 945 38.56% 1,038 42.35% 55 2.24% 50 2.04% 109 4.45% 130 5.3% 62 2.53% 78 3.18%
EX 02 385 35.91% 507 47.29% 19 1.77% 19 1.77% 37 3.45% 45 4.2% 30 2.8% 35 3.26%
EX 03 288 37.31% 374 48.45% 11 1.42% * * 24 3.11% 31 4.02% * * 29 3.76%
EX 04 63 34.81% 96 53.04% * * * * * * * * * * * *
EX 05 24 30.38% 48 60.76% * * * * * * * * * * * *
Total 1,705 37.43% 2,063 45.29% 89 1.95% 79 1.73% 179 3.93% 216 4.74% 105 2.31% 145 3.18%
2015 EX 01 932 38.53% 1,034 42.74% 53 2.19% 42 1.74% 108 4.46% 130 5.37% 58 2.4% 76 3.14%
EX 02 393 37.43% 486 46.29% 19 1.81% 17 1.62% 34 3.24% 47 4.48% 30 2.86% 29 2.76%
EX 03 272 35.01% 378 48.65% 11 1.42% * * 24 3.11% 35 4.5% 16 2.06% 30 3.86%
EX 04 68 35.42% 98 51.04% * * * * * * * * * * * *
EX 05 27 30.38% 40 56.34% * * * * * * * * * * * *
Total 1,705 37.43% 2,036 45.15% 86 1.91% 71 1.57% 185 4.1% 221 4.9% 105 2.33% 140 3.1%
2016 EX 01 931 38.74% 1,010 42.03% 55 2.29% 45 1.87% 122 5.08% 132 5.49% 63 2.62% 67 2.79%
EX 02 433 38.18% 511 45.06% 21 1.85% 24 2.12% 36 3.17% 59 5.2% 29 2.56% 29 2.56%
EX 03 288 36.88% 381 48.78% * * * * 32 4.1% 29 3.71% * * 26 3.33%
EX 04 65 34.57% 96 51.06% * * * * * * * * * * * *
EX 05 32 38.55% 44 53.01% * * * * * * * * * * * *
Total 1,749 38.11% 2,042 44.55% 88 1.92% 82 1.79% 199 4.34% 233 5.08% 106 2.31% 129 2.81%
PWD = Persons With Disabilities
*Not Applicable and/or Undisclosed

Annex 4 - Summary: Best practices in indigenous recruitment and retention

The executive Population Indigenous Executives – Early Observations

  • Indigenous executives have a 3.7% representation in the executive ranks
  • Indigenous executives are concentrated in the EX 01, EX 02 and EX 03 levels
  • Indigenous executives participate in few formal acting opportunities
  • Years at level before promotion are not significantly different from Executives overall
  • Rates of promotion through the executive ranks is low

The Government of Canada already engages in many best practices

Best practices Federal manifestation
Representative workforce policy Employment Equity, INAC 50% hiring target
Voluntary self-identification and reporting Voluntary self-identification and reporting
Buy-in from the top / support from senior leaders / executive champions Leadership on issue varies by department/agency
Partnerships with Indigenous organizations e.g. with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.
Specialized experience and recruitment programs e.g. Indigenous Youth Summer Employment Opportunity, Canadian Forces Aboriginal Entry Program
Outreach at Indigenous educational and employment events Varies by department/agency
Indigenous Employee Network Varies by department/agency
Acknowledgement and inclusion of cultural practices Varies by department/agency, no guarantee of cultural accommodation

Extending existing best practices

  • Extend departmental/agency Indigenous Employee Network to be government-wide, and actively engage this network in recruitment and retention ideas and activities 
  • Indigenous Career Development Program, which could include existing Indigenous employees supported to train for some public service occupations in which Indigenous peoples are under-represented
  • Leadership training program for Indigenous employees that would have all features of leadership programs plus address specific issues such as tensions between communities and government; handling experiences of discrimination; and exploring whether and how to incorporate traditional values and strengths into one’s work. Program cohorts could provide peer support to one another as they progress through the public service
  • Visibly valuing Indigenous peoples in physical spaces – two rooms in each department/agency for Indigenous employees to gather socially and spiritually
  • Where exit interviews are not always done, prioritizing conducting and learning from exit interviews with Indigenous employees and pooling this information for research purposes across Government
  • Qualitative solutions-oriented research with existing Indigenous employees and managers about Indigenous recruitment and retention
  • Bring together concerned parties in clusters to work on advancing aspects of Indigenous recruitment and retention. Ensure that decision-makers are a part of these clusters or are committed to implementing the recommendations of the clusters

Doing more without transforming

  • Develop different recruitment videos for each group (Inuit, First Nations and Métis): videos could use actual public servants from these groups talking about their work and public service career, why others should apply;
  • Use Indigenous media and social media for a recruitment drive;
  • Make use of Indigenous-specific job boards – currently some crown corporations do this but the Government of Canada does not;
  • Partner with educational and training institutions to provide a direct pathway into public service jobs for Indigenous peoples in occupations and departments in which they are under-represented.
    • Best-practice: Inuit Learning and Development Pilot, partnership between Government of Canada, Government of Nunavut, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., Canada School of Public Service
    • 16-month Learning and training opportunity, included four paid work assignments of four months each in federal departments of Iqaluit, the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.
    • Intended to prepare Inuit for jobs in the public service and provide them with a variety of related work experience.
    • Participating Government of Canada departments/agencies: Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Service Canada, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Natural Resources Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment Canada, Parks Canada, Public Works and Government Services Canada, Correctional Service Canada

The next level of best practices: transforming the workplace

Basic principles:

  • Commit to the next steps in Indigenous recruitment and retention, which involves workplace transformation
  • Acknowledge that measures targeted at Indigenous peoples are not enough, that Government of Canada workplaces must be welcoming to Indigenous peoples, value their strengths and eliminate stereotyping and discrimination among public service managers and employees
  • Recognize that transformation is a necessary step in reconciliation and building new and respectful relationships, and would also benefit non-Indigenous employees and the people of Canada as a whole
  • Perform a workplace cultural audit which looks at structures, policing and practices for their impact on and inclusion of Indigenous employees

Growth requires transformation

  • The government of Canada is already engaged in many best practices concerning Indigenous recruitment and retention.
  • Some of these best practices are not consistent across departments and agencies.
  • The next level of best practices will require the Government of Canada to change, rather than just expecting Indigenous peoples to assimilate into the status quo.
  • This is a good time to pilot some experiments in structural change, and to conduct a cultural audit of Government of Canada policies and practices with a view to increasing Indigenous recruitment and retention.
  • Many suggested best practices will benefit all employees, not just Indigenous employees, and would increase the sensitivity of public servants across Government to some key populations they serve.
  • The government of Canada is uniquely placed because it is not just an employer – its policies can affect the conditions Indigenous peoples face that have led to the gaps.

Annex 5 - Summary: Inventory of promising practices across the system

Methodology

The activities and initiatives highlighted below demonstrate the importance and value departments place on Indigenous Peoples and their contributions. The departments highlighted invested in initiatives that go beyond the scope of their mandate and employment equity plans to include co-development efforts and local community engagement. In some departments, these investments have no financial element.  Rather, they are actions that demonstrate partnership and inclusion of Indigenous employees.

Respondent departments

The following departments responded to the request for information about their Indigenous-specific activities to promote recruitment, retention and inclusion of Indigenous Peoples.

  • Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
  • Canada Border Services Agency
  • Canadian Commercial Corporation
  • Canadian Dairy Commission
  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency
  • Canadian Grain Commission
  • Canadian Human Rights Commission
  • Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
  • Canadian Space Agency
  • Employment and Social Development Canada
  • Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada
  • Health Canada
  • Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
  • Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
  • Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
  • Library and Archives Canada
  • Military Grievances External Review Committee
  • National Film Board of Canada
  • Office of the Auditor General of Canada
  • Office of the Correctional Investigator
  • Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada
  • Office of the Secretary to the Governor General
  • Privy Council Office
  • Public Prosecution Service of Canada
  • Public Safety Canada
  • Public Service Commission
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police
  • Shared Services Canada
  • Statistics Canada
  • Transport Canada
  • Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
  • Western Economic Diversification Canada
Promising practices Rationale/impact
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission: Sponsored 45 summer science camps to children in First Nations communities across the country. Engagement with and support of Indigenous communities build bridges and awareness. It also creates opportunities for Indigenous Peoples through investment in their human capital.
Shared Services Canada: In 2012, a Procurement Strategy for Indigenous IT businesses was created. Since 2012, SSC has awarded 1,021 contracts for an approximate value of $125 million to Indigenous businesses. Targeted investments support Indigenous businesses, which has a trickle down impact in Indigenous communities.
National Film Board: In June 2017, launched a three-year Action Plan called Redefining our Relationship with Indigenous Peoples. An external Advisory Committee composed of members of various Indigenous communities was created to guide the preparation of the Indigenous Action Plan.

All HR staff are registered to complete the courses Strategies for Indigenous Recruitment, Retention & Advancement; and 16 Dimensions of an Indigenous Retention Strategy. Both courses are offered by Indigenous Works.  

All applications of self-identified Indigenous candidates of the Associate Producer Internship program were reviewed and shared with other departments that would be a good fit for the candidate.
A targeted Indigenous action plan was created with input from Indigenous community members, which demonstrates involvement and engagement beyond the department. It provides legitimacy and relevance to the department’s action plan.

HR staff have authority and influence at each stage of the employment process. HR staff and HR processes can have adverse impacts on Indigenous employees.  Ensuring HR staff develop cultural competencies can help create a supportive environment for Indigenous employees.  

This effort of sharing promising resumes with colleagues across departments creates employment networking opportunities for Indigenous Peoples at negligible cost.  
Health Canada: Health Canada supports the Aboriginal Employee Network with an annual budget of approximately $2,500 in support of the network goals and objectives. An annual investment demonstrates ongoing support for the Network and value for its work.
Public Safety: Three employees received facilitator training to deliver the Indigenous Community Development Training. This training will be available to all employees. The Indigenous Community Development training includes a large cultural competence awareness component. By allowing staff to attend the training and supporting staff to become facilitators the department demonstrates a commitment to supporting Indigenous employees and Indigenous culture.
Canada Border Services Agency: In 2016-17, the CBSA partnered with Akwesasne to pilot a local recruitment program where the CBSA would work with the First Nation community to identify potential recruits, fast-track their applications and place them locally at the Cornwall Port of Entry. Although the pilot was not successful in terms of finding a qualified candidate, it improved the relationship with the community and provided a number of lessons learned that will be leveraged to continue with the local recruitment initiative.

The Agency invited Senator Murray Sinclair to speak about his experience on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and explain how the CBSA may support the Calls to Action for rebuilding the relationship with the Indigenous community.
The CBSA has had a well-documented troubled history with the community of Akwesasne. Undertaking a staffing pilot in partnership with the community is a demonstration of good faith on behalf of the department and the community. For CBSA to recognize the benefits of hiring a local community member in the port of entry demonstrates an awareness of the local issues and a genuine effort to address them. Although the initial process did not yield a successful candidate, CBSA will continue the initiative. An even better outcome is an improved relationship with the local community.

Guest speakers bring a human element to the issues and can help bridge gaps by appealing to people’s compassion. Guest speakers are appropriate and can be especially effective when efforts are being made to raise awareness about Indigenous People’s histories; including in Residential Schools.
Public Prosecution Service of Canada: Barriers to Inuit recruitment have been identified and actions have been taken to mitigate or address those barriers. Some examples of successful initiatives include:  Inuit-only processes and Inuit direct hires. Inuit employees attended employment selection panel training and participated in selection panels.

The PPSC in Nunavut participated in the committee established by Pilimmaksaivik to identify barriers to Inuit employment. It undertook an analysis of personnel systems, policies, practices and procedures in the organization to identify those that potentially impede the recruitment, promotion, or other employment opportunities of Inuit. Some recommendations to eliminate the barriers include: pre-employment training opportunities; encouraging departments to make the application process more accessible for candidates; effective advertising efforts in communities throughout Nunavut and increased use of social media for position postings; supporting advancement and talent management for existing employees; and greater focus on retention through workplace well-being and cultural competence among all employees. PPSC has adopted these practices in Nunavut.
Inuit staffing processes are appropriate for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada located in Nunavut. Having Inuit participate in the selection process ensures a culturally competent staffing selection process.

Undertaking efforts to identify barriers to Inuit employment is a major step towards addressing the lack of culturally competent hiring practices and processes.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada: ADM Champion established and staffed a full-time Elder position in 2016 to support and engage Indigenous employees.

The Indigenous Student Recruitment Initiative has a Student Advisor that meets in person with all recruits at least twice during their term (entry and exit) and is available for support throughout.

A Collaborative Staffing team recently ran an external CR-04 Administrative process that was only open to Indigenous persons and persons with disabilities.

Two videos of potential careers within the department featuring its Indigenous students and employees have been created and are being used in the department’s social media pages and at career fairs and presentations.

Recently established an MOU with the University of Ottawa with a long-term goal of increasing Indigenous recruitment.
Having a full-time, in-house Elder is a clear demonstration and recognition of the importance of Indigenous employees and Indigenous culture, within the Department. Investing in an Elder can help to create a sense of belonging for Indigenous employees. And in addition to the Employee Assitance Program, an Elder can offer culturally competent support services. Elders may also act as advocates for Indigenous employees.

Targeted Indigenous recruitment initiatives are paired with an advisor to support new hires. Supports are in place to help ensure retention.

Investment is made in deliberate and targeted Indigenous staffing processes that are accessible to candidates and which meet merit criteria.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency: The National Indigenous Advisory Circle is a group open to all Indigenous employees. The Circle provides a forum for strengthening internal communications and connectivity to Indigenous employment issues. The Circle was instrumental in developing a 5-year Indigenous Strategy. The Strategy addresses 5 key themes: Indigenous Networks, Career Development, Cultural Awareness, Harassment and Discrimination Prevention and Recruitment. Circle members attend career fairs, assist with conducting interviews and meet with new hires/students to help provide a comfortable and culturally sensitive environment.

An Elder and former Public Service executive was hired on a part-time basis to help with the outreach and recruitment.
A targeted Indigenous strategy was created in conjunction with the Indigenous Advisory Circle. Creating such a targeted strategy in this way can give it greater legitimacy and relevance.

Having an in-house Elder speaks volumes. It clearly demonstrates the recognition of the importance of Indigenous employees and Indigenous culture, within a department. Investing in an Elder can help create a sense of belonging for Indigenous employees, especially if a department is undertaking recruitment. Elders can also act as advocates for Indigenous employees.
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada: Aspiring Indigenous Managers Initiative (approval pending). The Initiative is an entry-level career development and training initiative for Indigenous employees at the junior officer level who want to move towards a supervisory / middle management level. This initiative is being designed and developed by Indigenous employees for Indigenous employees. The success of this initiative will be in large part due to the strength, commitment and collaboration of both government and Indigenous organizations. The Initiative is expected to launch in September 2018. It is proposed that it be a one-year development program for junior officer level Indigenous employees, combining Indigenous leadership principles, management experience, and Indigenous knowledge along with the training from the Canada School of Public Service’s Management Development Program. The program will include: Language Training options and a one year, on-the-job management training experience. This initiative would be the first of its kind for several reasons: 1) No other federal department has invested in a targeted career advancement program for Indigenous employees at entry level; 2) it is designed and developed by Indigenous employees for Indigenous employees; 3) it incorporates Indigenous leadership principles and Indigenous knowledge.
Canadian Human Rights Commission: Employees are provided leave to attend events, e.g., release of Truth and Reconciliation Commission report. Indigenous employees are often only allowed to participate in cultural/community activities during Aboriginal Awareness Week and on National Aboriginal Day. Allowing employees to participate in local Indigenous cultural/community activities (treaty ceremonies, Friendship Center activities such as sweetgrass harvesting and strawberry picking), all year round is a low-cost approach to support that can have a significant impact on employees’ well-being by supporting community engagement and cultural activities.
Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: