The People of CSIS

CSIS employees take the mission of protecting Canada’s national security very seriously, and they take it to heart. CSIS employees recognize that whether they are an Intelligence Officer, Policy Analyst, HR specialist, IT developer, or Surveillance Officer they all play a significant part in protecting their family, friends, neighbours, and way of life.

CSIS’s most valuable resource is truly its people; they are what make CSIS a leading intelligence service. CSIS also recognizes that it must reflect the society it works so hard to protect because diversity within the organization allows for greater understanding of communities across the country and helps build and maintain the confidence and trust that needs to exist between civil society and intelligence agencies.

84%
of CSIS employees are proud of the work they do, and

85%
of Canadians have confidence in CSIS

sources: Public Service Employee Survey 2020 and CSIS Public Opinion Research 2021, respectively.

Employee Demographics

CSIS is dedicated to increasing diversity and inclusion in its workforce. These are core values, fundamental to the success of CSIS’s mission. CSIS needs Canadians from all backgrounds, experiences, and abilities. From its headquarters in Ottawa, to offices across Canada and the world, CSIS is working to reflect the population it serves.

Collectively, CSIS employees speak more than 117 languages and dialects, with 67% of employees speaking both official languages. CSIS’s workforce in 2021 was 49% female and 51% male. CSIS has also started collecting data for individuals who identify as non-binary or another gender and 0.35% of new hires for 2021 are represented in that category. CSIS’s employment equity data is provided by employees who choose to self-identify. In 2021, 19% of CSIS employees identified themselves as visible minorities, 2% as Indigenous, and 5% as persons with disabilities. As outlined in the Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives section of this Report, CSIS is improving its recruitment efforts to reduce barriers and increase diversity and inclusion in its workforce. 

CSIS Employees (as of 2021-12-31)

Female Male Other
49% 51% 0%
Percentage of employees proficient in a foreign language Number of foreign languages spoken by employees Percentage of employees that are bilingual
19% 117 67%
Indigenous People Visible Minorities Persons with Disabilities
2% 19% 5%

CSIS Hires between 2021-01-01 and 2021-12-31

Female Male Other
51.23% 48.42% 0.35%
Indigenous People Visible Minorities Persons with Disabilities
1.05% 24.56% 4.56%

Communities within CSIS

Throughout 2021, CSIS leadership actively engaged employees to deepen the organization’s understanding of racism, diversity, and inclusion, to foster a safe, positive environment where voices from diverse backgrounds are heard and included to ensure new approaches have meaningful impacts.

CSIS collaborates with and supports the advancement of grassroots networks and communities within the organization. CSIS leadership works with committees and employee-initiated networks such as the Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion; Accessibility Committee; Women’s Network; Young Professional’s Network; Pride Network; Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC) Network; and Gender Based Analysis plus (GBA+) Network to discuss issues and solutions, and to foster awareness and communication with senior management. These groups’ contributions and perspectives have informed leadership and program area decisions on a variety of matters such as the delivery of training courses, recruitment initiatives, the development of a diversity and inclusion communication and awareness plan, and a new Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.

Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

Throughout 2021, CSIS worked to develop a new Strategy on Diversity and Inclusion. This comprehensive strategy will prioritize inclusive leadership, recruitment, retention, career and development opportunities, addressing bias, and open communication on difficult issues such as systemic racism. The Strategy will include an action plan highlighting recommendations submitted by internal Diversity and Inclusion working groups, acting as direction for CSIS initiatives for the next three fiscal years. This strategy is employee-driven and will be shared widely within CSIS to continue the promotion of an inclusive and respectful workplace.

CSIS managers and employees need to have the right skills, knowledge and abilities to fulfill the organizational mandate and deliver on strategic priorities. This includes building cultural competence with respect to complex and intersectional elements of employees and the Canadians CSIS serves. In addition to promoting numerous courses and professional development opportunities on unconscious bias, cultural competency and anti-racism initiatives through the Canada School of Public Service, CSIS has created new training opportunities, some of which are mandatory, to encourage employees to expand their knowledge of diversity and inclusion.

Throughout 2021, CSIS also implemented new initiatives to increase diversity and inclusion through its recruitment efforts. This year CSIS’s recruitment branch:

CSIS is continuing an employment systems review with a target completion of spring 2022. The review will determine whether any of CSIS’s employment systems, policies and practices are barriers for persons in designated groups, and recommend measures for improvement.

This year, the Director of CSIS also issued an invitation to employees who identify as Black, Indigenous or People of Colour (BIPOC) to join him in informal sessions and discuss their lived experiences as employees of CSIS. Over 150 employees accepted the invitation, and the sessions have been an essential part of ensuring that employee perspectives are not only heard, but are also influencing concrete change. Presentations from internal diversity champions to our employees have helped raise awareness, with guest professionals brought in to help lead open and honest conversations on racism, discrimination, leadership, diversity, and inclusion.

All these efforts enabled CSIS to provide a positive response to the Clerk of the Privy Council’s Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity, and Inclusion, an initiative to which CSIS remains firmly committed.  The work does not end here. CSIS must continue to efforts to build a Service that equitably represents all Canadians and the diverse communities we serve.

Health and Safety

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to bring extra focus to the health and safety of CSIS’s employees, which is paramount. The need to ensure the security of operations continues to necessitate a unique response to operating during the pandemic. CSIS continues to take all recommended steps to make its workplaces safe for those needing access to classified material. CSIS is also allowing more flexibility for its employees who are juggling professional and personal responsibilities, while ensuring security requirements are not compromised. CSIS’s existing programs that support psychological health and safety have continued to support employees with the pressures brought on by the pandemic, and with frequent and timely information related to health.

The pandemic has amplified the need for CSIS to support the health of employees, including their mental health. The CSIS Health and Wellness team is working on a new, comprehensive Organizational Wellness Strategy to improve upon CSIS’s current Mental Health Strategy.

The Future of Work

The COVID-19 pandemic forced our world to become increasingly interconnected, with many Canadians working from home. The pandemic changed the expectations of many workers who are seeking to capitalize on work flexibilities that are now the norm rather than the exception; at the same time, employers are still working out how their organizations will operate in the long term.

While the pandemic has defined a “new normal” for so many, it has not changed CSIS’s mandate, nor has it reduced the need to protect the most closely guarded information in the country. With operations and lives at risk, CSIS is not able to jump headfirst into the flexibilities and technologies that define the ‘future of work’ without considering how it can do so without jeopardizing its mandate to protect information. CSIS is now in the midst of a comprehensive initiative to consider and prioritize the opportunities and challenges that present themselves in the ‘future of work’. CSIS also recognizes that it still needs to attract and retain a diversity of top talent in a rapidly changing labour market, and is considering all it can offer as an employer, from workplace flexibilities, to career mobility.

Ultimately, recruitment is the key to CSIS’s future. CSIS is actively engaged in attracting and retaining the talent needed for success in the years to come, as well as in giving existing employees the support and opportunities they need to develop, thrive and advance. In addition to focusing certain hiring processes on increasing diversity, CSIS is also taking steps to improve the way jobs are advertised to attract candidates, and to explore how technology can be used to optimize virtual candidate assessments.

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