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Little evidence that actions to improve inclusion in the workplace are making a difference for racialized employees

Press Release

Ottawa, 19 October 2023—A report from Auditor General Karen Hogan tabled today in the House of Commons concluded that while all 6 organizations under review—the Canada Border Services Agency, Correctional Service Canada, the Department of Justice Canada, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, Public Safety Canada, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police—had established equity, diversity, and inclusion action plans, none were measuring or comprehensively reporting on progress against outcomes for racialized employees. As a result, they did not know whether their actions had made or would make a difference in the experiences of their racialized employees in the workplace.

The audit found that the 6 organizations should be using available data better in order to understand the barriers faced by their racialized staff and to inform equity and inclusion strategies and complaint mechanisms. Practices for analyzing disaggregated data were mixed across the 6 organizations. For example, none examined the distribution of performance assessment ratings for racialized employees, and only some examined promotion rates. Not using data to understand the lived experiences of racialized employees at work means that organizations and, potentially, the public service as a whole are missing opportunities to identify and implement improvements.

The audit also found that organizations were not always using performance agreements for executives, managers, and supervisors to set expectations for desired behaviours as a way to foster inclusion and create accountability for change. Specifically, only 39% to 57% of performance agreements for non‑executive managers at 4 organizations included objectives related to equity, diversity, and inclusion, while that number raised to 79% at the Canada Border Services Agency and 89% at Correctional Service Canada. Racialized employees who volunteered to be interviewed as part of this audit, expressed that they perceived a lack of true commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion and had the impression that meaningful change was not being achieved.

“Although the 6 organizations we audited have focused on the goal of assembling a workforce representative of Canadian society, it is only the first step,” said Ms. Hogan. “It is not enough to achieve the change needed to create a truly inclusive workplace. For that change to happen, departments need to actively engage with their racialized employees, to meaningfully use the data they have to inform their decisions, and to hold their leadership accountable for delivering change.”

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The 2023 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada, Report 5—Inclusion in the Workplace for Racialized Employees, is available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada website.

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