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Diversity – Panel Discussion: Black Careers Matter!

Description: Black careers matter! Learn about the challenges, opportunities and realities of Black employees for career advancement from the experiences of Black senior leaders at ESDC.

Date: November 23, 2020

Duration: 01:28:31

Resolution: 1080p


Transcript

Aissatou Keita speaking

Hello! Welcome to today's first ever national event for black employees at ESDC entitled Black Careers Matter I am Aissatou Keita I'm currently on assignment with the college and I will be the emcee for today's event. Welcoming you all from the beautiful Montreal. The event will be bilingual and simultaneous translation services have been arranged before we start today's session. I would like to begin by acknowledging that I am speaking to you from the unseeded traditional territory of the Algonquian people. For those of us joining from across the country via WebEx, WebCast I will also like to acknowledge with you that you two are gathered on traditional territories and treaty areas of many diverse First Nations in week amities people. In addition, I would like to acknowledge all the good work done by the college at ESDC and for their amazing support for this panel event. Also, I would like to recognize the work of the Anti-Racism Ambassadors network. The network aims to support existing efforts in the public service to dismantle systemic racism with an intersectional lens. They have created a logo that you can see behind me and it signifies a hand aiming to stop racism. The different shades represent the human family. With all its racial diversity thank you. Last but not least, I would like to acknowledge the courage and the strength it take for all the guest speakers to come to speak to us on this important and personal topic. I will not speak for too long today, I promise, but I am extremely excited to be meeting with you virtually to the Black participants that are listening to this message. I want you to know that you matter and your career matters. I can speak for myself and perhaps of some of you in saying that sometimes. It is tempting to give up in the face of adversity, but there is always hope for a better tomorrow. I am encouraged by the conversation that are taking place in our workplace and in society regarding the concrete steps that need to take place to address racism and discrimination in the workplace, and today's discussion is just one example. By listening to our guest panelist speak about the career journeys at Yes ESDC, I hope you will see that there is not only one door that leads to success, but also many for you to explore. Now more than ever. For the Allies and future Allies with us today, I thank you all for the time and I hope you will continue to assist us in our journey. We are here to learn from one another, and it is important to recognize that this project is one of the many steps towards a better and more inclusive SDC. I believe that all black employees deserve equal opportunity to succeed, and I am conscious that we cannot do it alone. We have a special guest today that are going to share their lived experience in hopes to inspire every one of you to keep pushing for what you want and what you believe and to collectively work for a better and safer environment for the prosperity of black people. I do not know where you all stands in your care journey, but if I can find the frame of even just one percent today to reach out for what they want and deserve, I believe my goal will it will be attained. Supporting each other in solidarity will bring us one-step closer to a better yes DC to better public service and to a better Canada. There will be a question and answer portion of the event at the end of the panel discussion, but will take questions from the participants. And please use the chat in the webcast link to submit your questions. Please identify to whom you are directing your questions, if applicable.

Without further delay, allow me to introduce our first speaker, The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. Of Somali origin, East Africa, Minister Hussein immigrated to Canada in 1993 and settled in Toronto. He began his career in the public service after graduating from university, working in the social services department of Hamilton Wentworth.

Serving as a national president for the Canadian Somali Congress minister who worked with the National and regional authorities to advocate on important issues to Canadians of Somali heritage. As a result of his advocacy work, the Toronto Star recognized Minister who sent in 2004 as one of the 10 individuals in Toronto to have made substantial contribution to the community. He has gladly accept it should be with us today and we are very grateful to have him join the conversation. Welcome Minister Hussen. We now invite you. To share your opening remarks.

Minister Hussen speaking

Thank you. Good afternoon. I am happy to be here with you today to give the opening speech of this fascinating discussion.

I am pleased to be here with you today to provide the opening remarks for this really exciting discussion. I last spoke to you in June at an event hosted by YMAGIN and you were visible Minority Network in which we discussed the pretty persistent challenges faced by people who identify as black indigenous. And people of colour, you know you initially started by saying it is an honour to have me, but the pleasure is all mine as a member of the bipoc community, it is a distinct honour to have this discussion with employees in BIPOC employees in ESDC Department that I believe has the opportunity to lead by example. I am encouraged by the work underway at ESD, see to amplify the voices. Of black employees and address systemic barriers in the organization. L'évènement d'aujourd'hui est un excellent exemple du progrès accompli et des priorités établies par le Ministère.  I am pleased to learn that ESDC is developing a diversity and inclusion action plan that will seek to address predominant concerns brought forth through extensive consultations with ESDC  diversity networks.

Ces consultations permettront Au ministère de moderniser ses stratégies intérieures afin de devenir une organisation plus inclusive et équitable et diversifiée.
These consultations will enable our Department to modernize past strategies in order to become a more inclusive, equitable and diverse organization. I am also happy to hear about the creation of the new Black Engagement Advancement team at HRSB. The Human Resources services branch. Who has already been successful in creating a safe space for black employees to engage and share lived experiences. This is really important, as people need to feel safe to bring forth concerns and aspirations. This team has set out key priorities for the organization in order to identify with systemic barriers exist. And determine the options to address them. Today's event is designed to create a dialogue to connect, to, mentor, and to learn about the challenges Black ESDC employees have faced and continue to face. We're very fortunate to hear from 4 black leaders who will share their personal career journeys and provide advice to help you realize your own personal approach to navigating your career and creating professional boundaries while remaining authentic to who you are and what's important to you. As an organization, ESDC's goal is to ensure that employees come to work every day and can be themselves and thrive. Thank you to the college at ESDC for organizing this event and for inviting me to speak with you and thank you to the panelists. Roxanne Lee, Christine McDowell, Tina Walter and Benoit Lymburner for stepping up and sharing your stories. I hope that you will take away important insights from these leaders and use their experiences to inform your decisions. Practices and empower you to challenge the status quo to speak up and to achieve your career goals. And if you do not face the same challenges, as you will hear today, I hope you will fully grasp just how important it is for you to be an active ally and an ambassador for change. I have always said that it is not enough for all of us as Canadians to individually say that I am not racist. It is important for each one of us to say that I commit to be an anti-racist that is a more active in involved situation and in each and every Canadian makes a conscious decision to be an anti-racist ally to dismantle the systemic barriers that hold back people. Black individual, black, indigenous and people of colour from moving ahead from contributing to our societies and from thriving in their personal and professional capacities. We will not only help those communities but will actually create a more stronger and prosperous Canada. Once again, thank you so much for having me today.

Aissatou Keita speaking

Thank you Mr. Hussen, for these words of wisdom. Thank you for sharing your experience. It is comforting to know that Someone Like You is leading the changes that we have needed for far too long on behalf of ESDC, we thank you for your commitment to this important work and for making the time to come. Speak with us today. Thank you again. I would like to take a moment to briefly introduce my story and how this project came about.
I arrived in Canada at the age of two. At a very young age, I rapidly encountered racism. During high school and college, I had to learn to navigate in a system where many individuals tried to prevent me from gaining access to some opportunities. Very gifted in school, teachers and the direction forced me to believe that I was only good at playing basketball.  

Through my high school and college journey, there were multiple instances that I was made to understand that that my potential was limited. If I want it to be great, I had to use other conventional ways such as sports arts. Basically, several teachers told me that academia did not have a place for me as a black person, even though my grades were way above average. Part of my drive and my resilience comes from a specific event that occurred 10 years ago. A teacher in high school once told me during an argument and this is a true story. Aissatou your Black, you cannot succeed, to which I responded. Oh well, I will see you at the finish line. Systemic racism is nothing new to me, and it became so intense that internalized the subliminal messages that were being sent to me by society. However, I was able to connect to my roots in Guinea, remind, and remember who I truly am. The truth is I am from a linear fighters and visionaries. I come from a family that fought for the independence of Guinean and justice, this project is no difference from what my parents taught me, and what I now believe in there is a place for everyone. In here, today's event was made possible because of two main things, the power of ally ship and perseverance. Back in January, I started working on a pilot program of a few coaching sessions for black employees. I was a public servant for about a year and a few months. I contacted many people who I believe could help me. Many doors I knocked on did not open, but many did. Great conversation arise from my perseverance and I was able to further develop my ideas with my newfound allies. Then, unfortunately, coronavirus happened and many of those who were willing to help me now had different priorities to take care of. But you know what? I kept on, working on the ideas, writing more specific documents, making sure my vision is clear, and my goal is clear. I never stopped believing that this project will work following an email from the assistant Deputy Minister of the HRSB regarding the death of George Floor, I decided to send an email and present her the project me as an entry level employee writing directly to the assistant Deputy Minister. The ADM responded with great enthusiasm and support and the rest is history. I took a leap of faith to represent my community. Yes, of course the initial vision change overtime. But it still let us here today and I'm thrilled and thankful. I believe that seeing is believing Voir c'est y croire! When you go through systemic racism all your life and just a portion of your life, it is difficult to see the light through the funnel. I understand, and I hear you all. However, this is why we are here today to remind us that through the examples of our panelists and even my example, that success is possible, we must see it to believe it and believe it to seize it.

I conclude with the African proverb that I had to learn very quickly, which states the following: "alone, we move forward quickly; together, we go further".

Now I would like to introduce our facilitator for the discussion. I promise you I will not speak for too much, but Stephanie Aubourg is a great friend of mine. She is a human resources officer at ESDC. She has 10 years of service within the federal government, including seven years with the Kent Canada Revenue Agency. She has continuously and she has been a consciously involved in everything that allows her to offer their services to clients that remains outstanding and personalized. She has led several presentation where she is a moderator for the monthly meetings of the Business Service Center which aims at keeping the team together despise the physical distance caused by Tele work, Stephanie will moderate the discussion with our special guests to you, Stephanie.

Stéphanie Aubourg speaking

Let me start over. As we are gathering virtually today for the panel event, I would like to remind everyone that this is a safe space and safe environment for the panelist to share their experiences and their story. It is important to recognize that our guest speakers are being asked to be very vulnerable and share things that they may not have shared before. For different reasons, please be mindful and respectful that some comments may trigger emotions. If such is the case, we encourage you to seek assistance from the Employee Assistance Program. The visible minority network, the federal Black Employee Caucus, the Black Engagement Advancement team, or the Black United Group. Please note that the links to these different groups will be shared with you by email after the event.

My name is Stephanie Aubourg. I am a human resources officer at ESDC. It is a great honour to also be your facilitator for this first discussion: Black careers matter!

The subject of diversity and inclusion has surrounded me. I am pretty sure since birth, but at the age of 11 is where I can consciously say I started realizing what it truly meant and how it is still extremely important. Today. In 1994, my mother, Kathy Beauregard, was the first Black City Council are elected in Montreal, as well as Chief of Public Security. I knew it was big. I knew it was important. I knew it was hard and different because she was a black woman. But only today do I see the importance and the impact it had. I must say that for me, the discussion that we are having today will bring a brighter flame into my heart and give myself and others the extra motivation to keep moving forward with any SDC. Today we have the opportunity to hear from some of her black leaders who will share with us some of their lived experiences and their advice on how to thrive within ESDC as black employees.

Why are we having this discussion? Some of you are certainly wondering. Despite the fact that Canada has gone to great lengths to promote diversity and inclusion throughout the years, systemic racism still exists within many of this country's organizations.

Knowing this, we must also remember that there is a path to success and triumph for all to reach. Today we will not solve systematic racism. We know it will take time and years to see the results of the conversation that are happening all around us. However, taking a moment to learn from those who have succeeded before us will be a helpful reminder that success is possible and will help point us in the right direction for a career aspiration. Doors are opening wider today than yesterday. Allow us to continue opening them together, even more with our allies whom I believe are here with us today at this event. I often heard that unity is strength. It is the same motto found on the Haitian flag. With all of the allies present today, we will become stronger in unity. Each will reach their potential and greater things will be done and achieved together. Sans plus tarder laissez-moi vous présenter nos panelistes qui ont levé la main très haute à fin de participer à cette table ronde So we have Kristen McDowell, Assistant Deputy Minister of the Atlantic region. She has a passion for mental health as well as diversity and inclusion, and has been the regional champion for Atlantic Region mental health and Wellness, and as the ESDC Champion for gender-based analysis.
We have Benoit Lymburner.

Currently director general, programs, Québec region, Benoit Lymburner is reputed for having helped many Québec organizations recruit new talents and to develop markets all over the world.

We have Roxane Lee executive director of the Citizen Service Branch in the Western region. Prior to becoming an executive, Roxanne was the service manager who supervised a multidisciplinary team responsible for their delivery of the youth employment. The homelessness partnership. At the new horizon for senior program as well as the Opportunities Fund for Person with disabilities and or last but not least, panelists of today, Miss Tina Walter, Director of Special projects in our Capital Region. Tina is recently retired from the public servant. She has always been passionate about diversity and inclusion. She has worked with the City of Ottawa to increase the representation of visible minorities in the police force and has also worked in various federal government Department for that same purpose. What I am wondering. Is for you to tell us about when you started working from the Government of Canada. In a few brief words, please tell us that anything stand out at the time. Let me turn it over to you, Christine.

Christine McDowell speaking

Excellent! Thank you Stéphanie. Hello everyone. I am pleased to be amongst you today. I myself started my career within the public service as a student.

I was with a program at the time that was designed for black students similar to the federal summer Work Experience Program, but it was called the Black Internship Program with A view to helping black students become members eventually of the public service. Um, the job was in fact posted in terms of how I got it. I knew folks who had participated on that particular program before. Un de mes anciens collègues par exemple Elle a travaillé dans ce programme pendant qu'elle était étudiante And she mentioned it to me. So I was able to find the web posting and submit my application. My first impressions were quite positive. I was really in fact quite pleased to get a job in the public service.
Currently twenty-nine years old. Therefore, at that time, it was something to be a Black student.
It I worked throughout my University career as a student in the public service and was fortunate to have around me and you will. You will hear me come back to this topic a few times. Colleagues who were also black who either had worked on the student program or were responsible for mentoring and supporting students on both the Black Internship Program but also at the time, are indigenous. Internship student program. Those relationships were incredibly important to me and I think set the tone for my career over the course of the next 29 years.

Stéphanie Aubourg speaking

Thank you, thank you, Christine. I am curious, Roxanne. I am pretty sure your beginnings at the government must also be very interesting to hear about giving. The fact that you are on the West Coast of Canada, please tell us if something stood out in your beginnings.

Roxanne Lee speaking

Hi, good morning everybody.

Thank you very much. I understand my audio maybe a bit low so I do apologize for that, but very pleased to join you Stephanie.

Thank you very much for the question. My journey was a little bit different than Christine's growing up here at in British Columbia. We have a very small black population here, but we are very close and so for me my mother actually work for the Federal public Service. So way back in the day back in the 70s when it used to be called manpower and through its different iterations. And when I graduated from University, there is a program on the post secondary recruitment campaign where they were looking to recruit young new leaders into the public service. And so I came in through the post secondary recruitment campaign on something called 44 in the door and I was very fortunate because when I went for my interview I have a background in broadcast journalism and so the person who's hiring we happen to be the Director of Communications at the time. So rather than go into a field office, I was able to go straight to a corporate position. In our communications Department and like Christine mentioned had some wonderful mentors who supported me along the way. Once I kind of declared that I had an interest in leadership. In terms of my impressions of the Department, I loved what we do here at ESDC. I love the broad mandate of the Department, but one of the things I notice quite early on was that there was nobody at like me at any table that I saw. And so NBC, it's not uncommon. Certainly back, when I started about 20 years ago to be the only black person in any setting. When I walked into a room and that was no different. When I start with the Federal public service. So I decided quite early on that I was very interested in leadership and I wanted to be that. Person sitting at the table so that other young black people coming into the Department could look and see, hey, is she considered that table? I can too, and so I said about to get mentors made lateral moves somewhere promotional. Like I said somewhere lateral. But again, we supported by some very, very excellent people who helped to support my career.

Stéphanie Aubourg speaking

Well thank you Roxanne. Tina. Do you have a similar perspective as Christine and Roxanne in terms of your beginning? I mean, were you the only black person as well when you entered room?

Tina Walter speaking

Hi everyone, thank you so much for the invitation. And thank you very much for the question. It is interesting because on reflection, my experience was similar. I think to Roxanne and Christine from the perspective that. I did not. Early in my career actually have a perception of me as a black woman with disadvantages because part of that and somebody mentioned before part of that had to do with where I came from. Coming from Jamaica, immigrating to Canada, but very importantly, having a very strong mother who said to us an event coming from a very strong culture that says, well, you know, as long as you work hard and you show compassion and consideration to others. You will become whoever you want to become a here is actually on reflection. A good example when I came into government after I finish my Masters degree at University of Western. I moved purposely to Ottawa because I wanted to become a public servant and I came in. Fortunately, my target was what was called Fitness, an amateur sport at the time, because I wasn't exactly, and I knew that actually the folks a lot of the people who are working for fitness as amateur sport, especially in sport, where exactly bonus I had an advantage. So my identity. We all have multiple identities. My identity that that brought me the opportunity actually was being an exact date. And subsequently, I there is one program for me that was, I think, instrumental in my group and career development. That was a management-training program. And it offered me a lot of opportunities throughout my career. To move around experience different departments experience different domains, which I think is important for in not everybody, but it was important for me from my career because I love the structure and I also love the support regardless of the colour of your skin and so forth. You got this support and that is what I always remember himself from human resources and so forth. They are the bonus for the management-training program because we were thought of as Elite. So and we were kind of free easy because the budget was centralized. So a Department could raise their hand and set up. I am looking for this person and so forth and the doors opened really readily and quickly. For me, the only point at which, even though I knew I always knew that systemic discrimination and racism was affecting the government. And it certainly came to the fore when I worked at Treasury Board because Treasury board at the time had assented 5 million dollar year program. I think that was encouraging department's to submit proposals to increase representation across the four equity groups as well as to deal with cultural barriers to their progression and so forth. However, they one incident when I was with Sport Canada that reminded me that we have not yet arrived was the in this situation with Ben Johnson. And I do not if folks remember him. Yes, Ben Johnson. I was asked to do a research paper to influence or to support the government response in the courts response and so forth. And what I found actually is that many Canadians, due to that particular incident, many Canadians began to deny that he was a citizen of Canada.

Stéphanie Aubourg speaking

OK. At least what I could retain from what you have said is that. Sorry, I lost my microphone. What I could retain is that you still had a strong surrounded, allowing you to come in and be comfortable with who you are at a certain degree. That is what I am reading from what you are saying.

Tina Walter speaking

Been watching part, let me just say this for the benefit of everybody else in part. That was because I think of my privilege of the way in which I was taught as a child growing up. So it yes, I was surrounded with support because we have the commonality. For example, in the beginning of the map being athlete, which is very strong. However, it was I think. Keeping in mind that nobody is to put you in a box.

Stéphanie Aubourg speaking

OK thanks, thanks, thanks Tina.

Benoit, you who has experience in the private, provincial and international sectors as well. In your words, explain your impression of your beginning at the federal government to us.

Benoît Lymburner speaking

Listen, I... Firstly, thank you for inviting me. I am honoured to speak to you this afternoon. My experience, my impression upon my arrival at the federal government is very positive. I believe that...  It has been many years as mentioned by Stéphanie. Having worked for more than twenty-two years in the public service, for more than a dozen years for the provincial public service, even more than that... fifteen years internationally, abroad; therefore, having worked frequently with diplomats abroad from the federal government. Thus, I followed the evolution. I am very familiar with the federal public service. However, it was a big jump to change to Director General of Citizen Services two and a half years ago. In fact, it leaves a good impression. I wanted to transfer to citizen services because I thought that it resembled me – like the employee population as well as the client population. Similar to when you become popular on the Kia Carnival. You need to initiate conversations to become Director General of Citizen Services. I visited some Service Canada centres to learn about the employee profiles, the clientele, and everything that would help make me feel well connected. I know that I was privileged. Roxanne mentioned it during many round tables. Sometimes, we do not have... We do not see people who have a background or certain knowledge. I call it privilege. In fact, I had the opportunity to work with Christine. We were two director generals at the table amongst five exceptional director generals. However,  ... I believe it to be important now to get together and to discuss how to improve and bring the federal public service forward and that is why that we, the panelists, the organizers, the speakers, are gathered here today. However, you as the participants, the people who are listening...As mentioned by the Minister, I believe that we will contribute to making a better public service that is more inclusive and diverse. Therefore, it is a little bit of the impression that I have and a little bit of my duty that I am assigning myself for the years to come because I know that I am in a privileged position as director general. Thank you!

Stéphanie Aubourg speaking

Thank you Benoit. This brings me up with another question with all the answers that you have just shared with us, I am curious. About what was the biggest obstacle that you have experience with regards to advancing in your career as a black person? But most importantly, what have you done to overcome or to address this obstacle? I'll start with you, Roxanne.

Roxanne Lee speaking

Thank you very much. So one of the biggest obstacles that I found when I came into the Department was around the hiring process itself. At the time that I was hired, the process was done by ranking, which meant that it was very, very subjective because you were basically listed from one to let's say, 10, and then you were selected off that list. What we do know and I do have a background in HR as well, is that is proven like hires like and that's not meant to be a negative statement, but it does speak to is that we tend to have an affinity for those that share similar values, etc. as ourselves. Which is why at a lot of our leadership tables, they look the way that they do and lock the diversity that represent the people that we are here to serve. Fortunately, in 2005, we modernize those HR practices and at that time, I was actually working in HR as a team leader. We moved to a right fit model and so I found that I really had an opportunity to influence some of our new potential managers in terms of how they could utilize this model, not only to make sure that they got the right fit, but also as part of that to ensure that we are increasing the diversity. And in terms of overcoming some of those obstacles, one of the things that I would have always been taught is that, you know, as a black woman, especially here in BC, and not many of us is that I have to work a little bit harder than everybody else to get what some of my colleagues or friends might just get through their own privilege. I heard things throughout my career such as, oh, you will do very well here because you are black and you are a woman. And to be honest with that, I know that there are boxes I checked and for me I am OK with that because at the end of the day, what is important. Is that I am there at the table? And what about the table? I can use my voice and so for me, although I heard some of these comments that were quite disparaging. I just had a mindset that I would try to address those as best as I can and I will be honest. Early on, it was very difficult to find. My voice is at a new public public servant, but as I have grown, had gotten my comfort level after my mentors and other colleagues and finding that voice. That is how I was able to overcome some of those obstacles is just by speaking to who I am. And as I said, looking for those opportunities to continue to put myself at the table so that my voice could also be heard. Therefore, what I am hearing for you is that you still attempting to yourself and you never were scared too. Speak to others and say what you thought and this is how you overcome all of your obstacles. I would say it was a learning. It was a journey, certainly in the early days you my face. A lot of macroaggressions, which at the time I did not recognize it as such and so I did not actually speak up. In addition, that was one of the things I will not say. I regret it, but I just did not have that confidence. But through my career through speaking with other leaders, other colleagues, other Black colleagues I have been able to find that voice. I just want to validate for our folks out there, is that. Roll on different parts of that journey and you know that does take time to find your voice, but I would encourage people to find it because it is very important that our voices are at that table, because if we don't speak who is going to speak for us?

Stéphanie Aubourg speaking

Sure, thank you. Thank you Roxanne. Benoît, are you able to describe an obstacle which you overcame and how you addressed it?

Benoît Lymburner speaking

Yes, Stéphanie. In fact, the barrier was always related to what Roxanne mentioned: always asserting our credibility. Reminding ourselves that we are at the right place, we have the right to be here. We have the skills to perform this work. Therefore, if I am not mistaken, it has always been a barrier that I have had to overcome since a young age.  I admit. Or it is less right to witness people with different profiles progressing at different rates to superior levels. Earlier, you made reference to my international career. Oftentimes, I had to ... sometimes, my credibility was questioned. They wanted to know whether a person with my appearance was the right person to negotiate an agreement with a foreign counterpart or with another minister. I always had to justify myself and to promote my candidacy because of my appearance and due to the fact that I am ... a part of my genetics is black. Therefore, throughout the world, I always had to ...Sometimes, I was a foreign representative for the government of Québec at that time and for the government of Canada too... Therefore, always having this need to prove that I was at the right place and that I was there to perform my job. How did I overcome this barrier? By working hard but also due to my education. I had the opportunity to speak to the EX community at the xCom last week. One of the aspects which I mentioned was my family. My parents, especially my mom, repeated to me that the racial excuse must be the last reason to bring up. The key is that from the beginning, I do not think of it at all. Therefore, it does not slow me down. I am aware that it occurs. I believe that it helped me a lot to be naive in my career. However, it is a lot of work and I hope to inspire a few people here this afternoon.

Stéphanie Aubourg speaking

Thank you Benoît. Therefore, if I understand correctly, you mention that you overcame your obstacles by working harder ethically? Therefore, did you work harder than your colleagues to overcome them and were you always compensating?

Benoît Lymburner speaking

Yes, I am still planning to do it. That is why we are a part of the panel today. Even within the federal government and even in the role that we play today, we have aspirations. For sure, we have to justify our position even more greatly within the organization. There is this compensation. Fortunately, there are allies; there are people who are open and who are with us this afternoon. I wish to thank you in advance but it is always that little extra which  sometimes freezes the candidates because you often go with your feelings, a lot in the personal aspect... Some people say "no, I will not go there" because it affects me too much. Roxanne mentioned earlier that 'she checked the box' sometimes. She is a visible minority -just like myself. It is part of the...I am comfortable with it. Yes, there is always compassion. Thank you for asking for clarification Stéphanie.

Stéphanie Aubourg speaking

Thank you Benoît. Let me go to Tina just few words as well. I am just curious to know what is the biggest obstacle that you have overcome and how did you overcome that obstacle yourself.

Tina Walter speaking

Thank you for the question. First let me reinforce is which is the good news. The good news is that for the most part, growing up in governments in the government, I was well supported. As I mentioned before, through the management training program, which I thought was fantastic and also very critically I had I have a number of coaches who took me on, but there was one called her name is Dennis Samuel and she was an ADM and we met in the gym. This is during lunchtime. I would go to the gym. It was in the same building and so forth and I am still in contact with her today and she just she believed in me. She dragged me all to do speech assignments. She I cannot tell you how important it is to have someone that you respect believe in you. It is a tremendous faith. Two incidences I recall on reflection. One actually funny enough was easier for me to deal with than the other. So one when I was growing up with in government, I had two senior men try. I was going to be a little bit wrong, but I will not they. I had sexual advances by them, they were senior executives, and I was not working for them. However, it was under the guise of being wanting to be a mentor by my mentor due to my I attributed it to my background and my strong mother and culture. Can you imagine that was really easy for me to deal with? Indeed, I gave them both electric and I told him do not do that again to anybody. And if you do it, you will be in trouble. So even though I can smile about it, it. It was disappointing to because one of the senior executives was a black man. And even and that I found much more disturbing given. Went what he must have went through growing up to become a director general, eventually in government and so forth. You know. So that was very disappointing for me, but I did not reach out professionally until you know the conflict resolution. People better, but I just found that I had enough courage and enough. Enough in me to deal with it myself, and I am not saying that that is the case for everybody. I am not promoting, it is just that this this this I felt confident that I could nip this in the Bud without any consequences with respect to my career. The second one was much more difficult to deal with. This was and this was in the latter part of my career, and while I was an executive, it was an experience of being placed. As I mentioned this earlier placed in a box my files and this I notice in government depending on your files. It could be more important than other files. Policy is sexy, you know policy is policy. Mind is a big thing service so maybe not so much or programming. Maybe not so much. So my files one of them was very visible. So the Minister and the Prime Minister and all of that everybody was, you know my bosses and so forth were very focused on that. However, the rest of the files not so much and it. It was a perception that I felt. That I was limited. Yes, I was an executive yet yes, I had a team but there was something, which to this day I cannot yet figure out, is. The question of. Me being volunteered or voluntold to do corporate work that is one of the effects. I am not as busy as my other direct. You know, my files are not that heavy as other directors and so forth. That is that was the assumption. And but then I also was reprimanded for when I tried to hold manage his account for. Questionable behaviour. Here is the tricky part of all of this, and I know it is not very, very clear. This is about what I think are invisible norms and practices. Sometimes that are. In our organizational culture that gives you, the signal that, there is something not quite right with you, but nobody explains it. Nobody says it.

Stéphanie Aubourg speaking

K. Well. You said you mentioned that you felt like you were in a box and that is why you're saying that nobody explained it, but you felt like that. That is your perception. How did you get out of this box? This is what I wanna know. Right?

Tina Walter speaking

Well. I am still in the box actually, because this is the thing it how I got out of the box on a daily basis was still focus on being a very good public servant. Focus on team my team focus on delivering well and kept boy so they are fighting me kept going, but the problem did not go away. You see. So what I am reflecting on now is could I have handled that problem differently? Here is a brand for say example one of my colleagues I'd never forget when I talk about putting in a box, I was in a meeting and I was there and he mentioned and I was participating and it was about policy and he actually came up to me after and said, oh Tina, I didn't know you had such a strong policy mind, huh? Another example is I am sitting in a meeting with others. I am the only black person in the meeting. I asked a question because there are hidden or invisible norms and practices. Directors are supposed to talk etc. etc. I have respected that I did raise my hand and say. By apologists sorry to interrupt, but there was something on a very important topic which was unconscious bias at the time and I ask also was the next step very quickly I was absolutely ignored. This was a meeting with some 20 people, an ADM's, DG and directors as I was absolutely ignored. Then, under a white, allies stood up and responded to my question, interrupted the debrief of the ADM, turned to me amongst these people amongst 20 people an answered my question. So all this to say, in the long run is that some of what I have experienced. Still stays with me to this day. And my message is that it is. These sorts of potential questionable negative behaviours. Potentially based on the colour of my skin or something else actually is damaging and it can last a long time.

Stéphanie Aubourg speaking

Thank you, Tina, thank you. Just to have the perspective of Christine as well, I want to know if she had similar challenges to overcome if she had to name. If you have to name one obstacle that you had to overcome, which would it be and how did you overcome it? Christine.

Christine McDowell speaking

Yes, Stephanie, I think a lot of it has been said from my own perspective. I would say I was well supported very early in my career, so when I was working at the officer level the delivery level I had. Again, because I started as a student, people knew me they had grown; you know, just accustomed to me being around and knew what I was, what I was capable of. When I started to encounter obstacles is when I actually transitioned from a delivery role into a leadership role that for me was really the. I would say it was the start, but that is where it became quite evident to me. I thought that. Unspoken that that, though perhaps I did not have necessarily what it what it took. Therefore, you know, from my perspective, comme Benoit a mentionné. I worked hard continuously to prove myself. It was not enough to qualify on a selection process. I read every document that I could get my hands on. I knew things like speech from the throne. You know, entire documents I knew, absorbed and could use that to frame the kind of linkages. And so on that needed to be made. As we, all know about in. In selection process is which prior to 2005 is Roxanne mentioned where the way that folks were selected? I wanted there to be no doubt that I had the skills and the ability to be successful in that role and at the same time, I always sought to pursue purpose rather than a position or a title. Where can I make a difference? Where does the work that I am applying for line up with my own sense of values and what I can contribute because I do believe I heard. At the former Lieutenant governor man Francis speak a few weeks ago and she talked about as a public servant managing your role as a public servant, but also that fire in the belly where you want to make a contribution to the advancement of a particular cause. In this case, the advancement of black people and manage your work as a public servant. I always strive to find purpose rather than position. Which can be a challenge. You know there is some. Uh, you know, if you are engaging often the only one at a table. Sauf l'expérience que j'avais avec Benoit et Roxanne dans la même direction Il y a quelques mois. There is there can be some fear. What does this mean to my job? What does this mean to? Career aspirations that might be frustrated. What does this mean for judgment that folks may place on me? Therefore, to counter those for me? As I mentioned in in in my first comments, relationship relationships were critical and are critical to this data success. There is strong value in social capital surrounding yourself, with allies, a strong network of likeminded colleagues where you can bounce. Professional and occasionally personal things that you may need to do with people who are just going to get it friendships at work or powerful. They are incredibly powerful. Networking is powerful and dispense the sponsorship and mentorship being spoken to sponsorship, being actively spoken about. Benoît reference that as an it just resonated so much with me in the black community where I am from God Parents play a big role God parenting folks through the system.  Pour moi c'était une expression formidable and maybe I will ll leave it. There likely will come back with other questions, Stephanie, but I've got a few other things to add when when we get the chance.

Stéphanie Aubourg speaking

OK, well, what I am hearing from what everybody has just said in regards to this question that just asked is ally ship. So basically each one of you had someone or a group of some sort of support. Aspect to this to allow you to overcome your obstacles so. We worked together. That is what I am hearing. It was hard, but with someone beside you, guys were able to move forward and work hard. Work harder than most, of course, but there was someone to answer or listen and teamwork I am guessing is what I am retaining from what you guys are saying.

Um? I just wanted to do a quick reminder before we moved too far within this discussion.
We will have a question and answer period at the end of the discussion. Please use the chat in the Webcast link in order to submit your questions.

Um, OK so? With all discussion that we are having today, it leads me to another very important question. I would like for you guys to talk to us about the pivotal moment in your career that made it possible for you to be here today. What are the key takeaway of pros of wisdom or you would like to share with the participant? Today, like what is it that we need to know? I will start with Benoit. Therefore, could you please describe a decisive moment, a lesson learned and provide your advice?

Benoît Lymburner speaking

Excellent! Thank you Stéphanie. In fact, a multitude... Therefore, many moments are the reasons for why I am whom I am and where I am today. It starts with family. The family unit in Africa in international development. Christine mentioned godfathers and godparents. Godfathers and godmothers invited me to live with them for a year in Germany so that I could learn German. This propelled my career as I was able to work abroad –specifically, three assignments abroad. While I was in the family unit, I lived with a family since my children and spouse did not accompany me on these foreign assignments. It was a sacrifice for my career. We found a way to see each other during weekends. It was a huge sacrifice but it was for my professional development. This development I believed was also for my family. I also worked... I made some professional decisions. It occurred on at least two or three occasions. I would say maybe two in which I accepted to take a significant pay cut. Therefore, there are times when you must accept to....  Take a step back; to finally say that I want to refocus/retool so that may I come back even stronger. For example, it happened in my career that after five or six years in the private sector, I accepted a significant pay cut when I transferred from the private sector to the public sector. I wanted to be a follower for a while now. I was somewhere else. I had other interests. Sometimes, I had come back from abroad and had chosen to live in the regions. In fact, I went to live in the Bas-Saint-Laurent, more specifically, in Rimouski, despite the fact that I had been offered a position in London, England. Therefore, at times, there are decisions which we make that are sometimes conscious, other times, unconscious. I believe that it was Christine or I do not know whom, who said:  you have to be true in what you are feeling and you must decide accordingly and you must... Therefore, I decided to move to Rimouski in 2014. It was not glamorous. However, it was there that I learned about regional economic development but it was also there where I accepted a director general position for Emploi Québec/Service Québec. Nonetheless, it was a direct path to my next job, after a few a positions, at Service Canada as Director-General of Citizen Services. Of course, I learned a lot. That is why it is important to be open-minded, to accept being versatile, to move around. For me, it is very important to accept to stop and to back up a little sometimes. I believe that it is important to accept it if we wish to better listen to ourselves. We also made reference to a formal or to an informal network. It is important to nurture it so that we feel well at work and in our personal life. But it can certainly help us shine in our professional life. It is important to remain passionate and enthusiastic. If we do not have the flame, if we're not passionate enough, we will not come through well. In any case, I would not be comfortable. I am always happy. One of the things for which I am most passionate about is the impact of my team. But also the people in my entourage, my closest collaborators, my advisors, my directors. That is why I am happy to go to work throughout my career. So for me, it is all of these factors which make me who I am today. I hope that my lessons learned will help inspire you. I share these lessons humbly with you today.

Stéphanie Aubourg speaking

Perfect. Thank you Benoit, Christine. Let me get back to you because I know you had something that you wanted to add as well, but at the same time I'm asking you the same question in regards to you career, any advice that you'd like to give us all in regards to this? What is the pivotal moment of your career that made it happen for you and what do you have to tell us?

Christine McDowell speaking

Thanks for coming back to me, Stephanie little bit wet Benoit mentioned for me it was about taking the Longview of my career. Not every move for advancement needs to be up. Sometimes it was lateral and that was OK because what that meant for me today. Moving into a position of ATM that I had done just about every regional DG job, and so you know, felt comfortable from an operational perspective, you know. Had again, I hope the high degree of credibility because I'd worked operationally and could speak to regional operations and so was able to focus and translate that to the next the next level. So if we take a short-term view kind of flavour of the month, that has not changed that, lasts very similar to the conversation that we are having here today. I think we need to recognize that we are talking about in during change. That is going to. You know, perhaps Trans send the momentum of this moment, but we need to take the longer view a be thinking about the kind of change that will that will last. For me it was an again I have mentioned mentor ship before, but there were two particular leadership development programs that I that I participated to an answer. Pivotal pivotal. One was very similar to what Tina mentioned it the management training program but it was a made in Atlantic kind of management training program, c'étais accès spécifiquement pour l'équité à l'époque. So we had black participants. I think we had an indigenous participant, persons with disabilities. But again, it was a key initiative designed to advance representation in, in particular, in Nova Scotia, where we have had, you know, Black Nova Scotia is living for hundreds of years and yet looking out at our leadership team at that time was not representative. Certainly, of the communities that we were serving, so there was a deliberate and strategic decision taken by managers or by management at the time to move us into that space. So that was very, very fortunate the next. Opportunity came in terms of also leadership development at the executive level so you know, throwing myself fully into that taking. The advantage of the opportunity to develop networks but also participate in second language training. For those of you who aspire to become leaders at the executive level, this is very important and the sooner you have the occasion to do that the better really it is because you know sit down. This is a required skill and very proud of our public service for that. The only other thing I would add in relation to this particular. Topic is around approaching the work again. You know there is a sense. In addition, I spoke a little bit about it last week and you have kind of referred to it here that that. Feeling that we need to overcompensate or work harder or demonstrate more that, and in literature, they refer to it, as you know, kind of the black tax that that we have to work harder, and so on and so forth. Certainly have felt that, but. You have gained so much as a result of doing that, you know really being interested in the public service, the work that we do, the work that the Department does, not just what the region is doing. And so for me, you know, while that might have been something that I had to do kind of early on to kind of prove, prove that I merited a space at the table. It has certainly served me well understanding the organization. And then, you know. Certainly is Roxanne mentioned. Perhaps I checked a box, perhaps I was a ticky on someone's sheet somewhere but at the same time I brought an I would like to think a full range of talents and competencies to the table and use those opportunities. Those pivotal moments leadership training, French language training, executive training to always channel that back into my work for the benefit of the organization, but also for the benefit. Of those who are coming behind me. So when we climb we have to remember to pave the way an bring others along along with us.

Stéphanie Aubourg speaking

Thank you, thank you Christine. What I'm hearing from you basically is we have to have passion in what we do to give us the courage and forced to keep on going and work hard. And so that's what I am retaining. From what you are saying. And that is what I retained from one Benoit said as well. Roxanne, how about you? What was that pivotal moment and? What do you have to say to our participants today? In regards to this.

Roxanne Lee speaking

Yeah, thank you. My colleagues and I were on a previous panel events in what's striking me is again we may have different stories, but the experiences are so similar and so you know, at the risk of sounding repetitive, like my colleagues, I always had the Longview I saw I saw and continue to see my career as a marathon. It is not a Sprint, and so in doing that I made decisions that were always true to me and that is something that I have held a quite firm with. So I am a mother. I am a wife, I am a sister, and I am a public servant. I am a black woman. I am all of these things and in doing that I have always tried to make career decisions that supported me in those then well talked about, you know, looking at those lateral moves, I've turned down several promotional opportunities, either because in one case it would mean that I have to come off maternity leave and not be at home with my child. I was not prepared to make that sacrifice because, again, the Longview, I believe that other opportunities would present themselves. I have also turned out opportunities where I have gotten them from leaders who. I did not feel would necessarily be the best fit for me. I want to work for people who I believe support me, where my advocates who are my allies, and I have been very fortunate to be able to do that. But along that journey it has met that I have had to politely turn people down and one such instance I remember, the director telling me, well, you know, no one's going to choose you from this pool. You are the last person left, and I thought to myself that is exactly the reason why I am not going to work for you. And sure enough, within a week I got a call from another director who I admired very much. So I actually adopted as an informal mentor. She hired me into a manager position and I will say that was probably one of the major reasons why I am sitting in this chair. Today was because of her and making those kind of decisions. I like to know why and Christine also spoke about find a mentor-finding network. I think that is so critical and I benefited hugely from having informal mentors and notice. I use the word mentors. It does not necessarily have to be one person. There are people that I like to emulate because of their leadership style in terms of how they manage their people. There are other people where I look at two what Christine spoke about their ability to assimilate information and then in a very public setting spit all that back out coherently. And so I have tried to. Associate myself with those people to learn from them, take those pieces, and build them into my leadership style. And the last thing I want to leave with is create your own opportunities, and I think we have all kind of spoken to this piece. Again, it is not just about the promotional opportunity. Look for those lateral moves where you're either working with people who you think you can benefit from, or there's a piece of work I've had the benefit of being able to work in a char in finances, program delivery, our integrity services were doing investigations in the field just an array of experiences that both kind of been wine. Christine spoke about, and so I would like to attribute a lot of the success I have been able to have. Is being able to make those moves in a kind of fulfill myself for full personally, but then see a translate with into my career? And I think Aissatou. I really want to commend her on her perseverance in getting this particular event organized, because what she did embodies exactly, I think, what all four of us are speaking about is she created this opportunity for us. And we are here because of her. So, you know, in telling our stories as executives, it was so wonderful to hear somebody at an entry-level position who is literally living. What we have described, so I just want to commend Aissatou also yourself. Again, thank you for moderating this session. Appreciate it.

Stéphanie Aubourg speaking

Thank you Roxanne. OK, so just Tina. Just quickly in a few brief words. What was your pivotal moment and what advice do you have to tell us? Just quickly if you could add something to this.

Tina Walter speaking

OK, first of all I would say after hearing all the panelist as your two yourself, I am thinking of coming out of retirement and working for you all. Thank you. Come back come back. I do not want to repeat everything because everything that folks had here I can relate to 110%. No question. The mentor ship there into the relationship. The long term perspective, the mixing up your career, taking yourself out of your comfort zone, no different departments, different areas round yourself all and being able to do and to be able to express yourself in the two official languages. That is very important and you must begin immediately. I just had two things. One is on reflection. I think it is very important for self, self-being self-aware. This is what I have learned coming out, being self-aware. What kind of public servant do you want to be and others have touched on this but what are your pain points? And what are your strengths and weaknesses? I think those three things all throat. It is more self-reflection. It is a little bit more heady. But self-awareness and combined with psychological safety, I think that is very important to create an is not up to black people employees to create psychological safe spaces is up to everyone. If you marry self-awareness with psychological safety, psychological safety being as a minister's if you can bring your authentic self to work without fear of repercussion and  Indeed, bringing your authentic self to work actually will, People will appreciate you even more versus what's still going on now, which is Don't quite bring all your authentic self to work. You are to be a simulated into invisible norms and practices that often reflect a gold standard by everybody by which everybody needs to live by and that gold standard. And I will take the opportunity to mention the ESDC survey it is coming soon to a theatre near you. Is that gold standard is often dictated still by white male, heterosexual and abled. So this is not finger pointing because I am not. I am not into the blame game, but really if we are to make the move toward on earthing systemic discrimination and racism in our culture, we must be courageous enough to dig deep. Dig deep. Yes, be uncomfortable, but that is OK because out of discomfort comes gay. You know the athletes say no short-term pain long-term game. I am a big gate. I am a big believer in that. So I will stop it. Let me give you a quick example about what I mean. Denise Amyot before she left ADM. Competent like crazy. She was told that she would never become a deputy minister. Because she was too excitable.

Stéphanie Aubourg speaking

Well, thank you Tina for sharing this with us. We are getting close to the part where we have to get to the Q&A. So thank you for the panelists. Thank you all for assisting to this great discussion. This insights shared by the panel is stemming from their personal experiences, has given us a true glimpse of the reality for black employees as well as the possibilities moving forward in each of our own career journeys. One thing is for sure, the path to success. Is one where never give up or the organization keeps growing with us. So thank you everyone for today for taking the first step in the right direction.
We need to remember that there is a place for all of us within the organization and that there is as much place as we wish to take up. Our panelists are proof. Therefore, continue moving toward what you desire and what you deserve. There is more than one road which leads to Rome and more than one door which leads to success. Thank you everyone for your presence, and thank you Aissatou for giving a hand when you saw a road which lead to success. It is greatly appreciated. I would like to thank our wonderful panelists Christine McDowell, Benoît Lymburner Tina Walter and Roxanne Lee for having shared their personal stories with us. I hope this discussion has been as enriching for you as it has been for me. Whom as an employee at the entry level as well truly feels inspired and I have to say I am ready to switch gears as of today. So let me just pass the microphone to Aissatou now before we wrap up. Thank you.
Aissatou, C'est à toi !

Aissatou Keita speaking

Thanks to all of our panelists: Tina Walter, Christine McDowell, Roxanne Lee and Benoît Lymburner as well as to Stéphanie Aubourg, our facilitator, for this great discussion. Without further delay, we will move on to our Question and Answer period.

We will now take few questions from the participants via the online chat box. If your question is directed to one panelist in particular, please be sure to specify which one guys we have. A lot of questions so I will try my best to settle. So the first question would be to Roxanne. Roxanne, you spoke about Microagressions in the workplace. Can you or any of the panelists give us example of microaggressions and the impact they have had on you and your career? To you, Roxanne. 

Roxane Lee speaking

 Thank you Aissatou! You know again that is it is interesting because that is language that for me has its new to actually ascribe some of the pieces that I experience. And so it is those comments that you know old. Like I said earlier, you are black so you will do well and you kind of think to yourself that backhanded compliment things like sitting in meetings. I am from the Caribbean, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. We speak loudly where passionate people we use our hands. I was told early on in my career to not do that to not be expressive. I was sitting in a meeting, had my hands crossed. I was told that I look angry. I do not look approachable. Those are the kind of things. Again, as a young public servant they leave an impression on you, and especially when they're coming from senior leaders and again being in BC not having that network of colleagues that I could go and speak to. It was very, very challenging. So Aissatou what was the second part of the question you asked about the microaggressions. I got two fascinating caught up. No, it is all good. So pretty much the person wanted to know the impact they have had on you and your career. Yeah, and so like early on the impact was like I said earlier, it , I would leave feeling like I should have said something and I didn't because I didn't know what to say. And so as I have grown as I become more comfortable in who I am as a black woman. As a public servant, I have actually addressed that I have had colleagues who comment on visible minority boards and when I was the best at the top. I had a colleague who thought he was making a constructive comment when he said, Oh well, thank God, you did not come on and off that, you export because we have not had much success with that VisMin board. The fact that he felt comfortable saying that to me, and so in that moment I actually address that directly, was able to speak to him. Where like I said early in My career, it did take me some time to find that voice in terms of the impact his head on my career. I want to be that example. I want to be that person. Like I said early on in my comments that hopefully other public service will look and see. Hey, if you have an interest in sitting at that table, you can be there too. You do not have to take every promotion. You do not have to move to Timbuktu and back and forth. I have lived my whole life in Vancouver and I was told again, you are going to need to go to the Yukon. You are going to need to go to Ottawa. You are going to need to do all of these things. I made decisions that work for me and it was a large result. That's the impact that some of those microaggressions had is really instilling in me making decisions that are going to be right for me and right for my family and at the end of the day, if I meant to be here, I will be here.

Aissatou Keita speaking

This is an amazing answer. Like I do not know if the participants are inspired. I am like I connect with you and what you just said and I am just like I am shaking. So thank you so many marks on we are just going to go to the next question quickly because we have a lot of questions so step. So that's a question for all the panelists. So status statistics show that minorities are often in entry level positions and do not have access to leadership roles. Despites, despite their skills, education and talents, what do you suppose contributes to this. And how could this problem be addressed in your opinion? I could start with Christine.

Christine McDowell speaking

Thank you Aissatou. For me, I mean I kind of referenced it a little bit in my in my comments to the earlier questions. We need to be deliberate. We need to take action and it has to be strategic addressing where we have those gaps and you know that is in in the area of leadership. You know I can recall and I shared this last week with our Executive group I can recall. You know advocating for Employment equity representation at the leadership level and being challenged with well what we need is more data we need more targeted data. We need more information and my response to use Tina's expression. If you are blessed with eyesight and you can stand as I was on the stage, ready to address a group of 200 leaders in the Atlantic and not one of those faces looked like mine, I really do not need any more data than that. To me, that is the answer and we have. HR tools at our disposal that we can leverage to start to fill some of those gaps. And it is about being courageous and making the right decisions for the right reasons. The other thing that has often been, I think, raised as an argument. Well, we can only promote people that are, you know, are competent. You do not want to promote people behind beyond their competency and my struggle is always. Why is it that whenever I raise a conversation about employment equity, and leadership that is always met with? But we cannot promote people who do not have the competences. In my view, we are not talking about promoting incompetent people were talking about finding people with the competencies who also happen to be members of employment equity groups. In this case, black people and support them in their leadership aspirations.

Aissatou Keita speaking

Thank you so much Christine for this answer. This is complete a brief, so I am just going to jump to another question and this question is for Mr. Benoît it says here. Do you? Do you find that your career... that your current career path is similar to what you have envisioned when you initially finished school? Or has it been a very not linear path? À vous Benoît.

Benoît Lymburner speaking

Excellent! Thank you. Listen, I think that it is similar to what I envisioned, but we evolve, we change, and later on, I thought about keeping my enthusiasm, the passion, the flame that Roxanne mentioned, our lives, sometimes, of family, children; our reality evolves. So for me, is...my objective was to be happy at work and to make a difference, to be well surrounded and I believe...I'm sure that I have accomplished this now but I'm still working on the long term. I would love to have even more influence. We will have to wait and see how the road will lead me to this next level. ..ahah! later... To be continued. Thank you for your question. 

Aissatou Keita speaking

Thank you very much for this answer, Benoît. I love it! Even I am inspired.
I have another question here and this one is for Tina. Tina, what is the best way to bring up conversation about interest in more challenging roles with supervisors within, without seeming like you are not content?

Tina Walter speaking

That is a big question. Thank you for it. You know, I actually was doing some mentoring while I was volunteer mentoring, particularly for or black young women and women of Islamic faith. And actually, that question came up time and time again with respect to one individual. And she mentioned that so we are talking about the exactly that how to approach this sort of thing. Do not, I do not think it is too challenging from the perspective of doing it with authenticity. Be authentic, know yourself, know before. OK, so why am I wanting a change? First, for what reason? If it could be? If you are satisfied with in you are within your position, but you would like to expand your responsibility, you would like to learn about other areas of work either within the same error within the same unit, potentially with the same manager. Or elsewhere, so it indeed this is not abnormal within the government, where, for example in ESDC that we there encouraging micro-missions right? Because they believe that actually opening up opportunities to individuals to expand laterally, not necessarily for promotion, but to expand their opportunities to work in another area. Actually may be a win situation for the organization. So, so I think that not only you know approaching the conversation with your manager in an authentic, caring way, but also keeping in mind that this is actually a departmental wide. Activity that is being encouraged.

Aissatou Keita speaking

Exactly Tina, you said at all. This is the first step and this is a big step. I am just going to end up here cause time is passing by so quick. I cannot believe it is almost the end. OK guys not going to be emotional, everything will be fine. We have a lot of people here that sent us a lot of Remerciements. OK, they want to say thank you for all the panelists. Thank you to all the organization. Basically someone wants to say something specific. They said: Thank you for this enlightening  discussion. I feel very inspired by the testimonials of all of the panelists. I am quite introverted by nature. However, I am even more motivated now to progress in my career as a Black woman. Once again, thank you!  Pretty much I believe someone here as a black woman feel encouraged and she really wants to move forward in her career and this conversation really helped her. She's motivated and thank you to that person. I am happy that I was able to bring everyone together and to create that sentiment of happiness within you. And also I would like to say one thing specifically Tina. You ended up by saying Micro Mission are win win situation. Hopefully apart two we will have to discuss on that cause a win win situation is the key. I think Christine mentioned in regards to lateral move just like that's what happened. That is my situation. I am doing a micro mission. I am doing an assignment so having disciple moves will help the organization and perhaps help us move forward in change like to have more concrete step towards teams. So I believe in that and thank you for reminding the participants of that point.

So this great event is almost over! I hope that the participants that are listening to us today learned a lot. On behalf of Employment and Social Development Canada, I wish to thank all of the panelists for their time and for sharing their stories with us. It was an honour to have you amongst us today. To the participants, we wish to thank you for participating in this rich sharing of knowledge event. We hope that you leave here with a greater understanding and a deeper commitment for fighting for equality as well as for additional tools for continuing your personal development. The goal today was to raise awareness for Grid inclusion but also to provide an opportunity to learn from our black leaders and to support our black colleagues in their career. Advancement at the ESDC and I am hopeful that we have accomplished this today. To the black employees. No matter where you are on your personal care journey, just know that there is a space for you in the organization as much space as you wish to take up.  Our panelists to their proof of that. I am proof of that. Always press forward for what you want and deserve. There is more than one way to Rome and work more than one door to success. For those who keep knocking. Thank you for the Allies and future allies with us today. I hope you did learn from our lived experience. And you will continue to stand with us for equal opportunity in the workplace. We encourage each and one of you to keep learning about the realities of black people in Canada and Black people employees. Sorry in the workplace and continue to raise awareness of systemic racism wherever you may notice it. Speak up! Black employees remember. And please do you remember who you are and not who the world says you are. You have a lot to offer and you matter.

Thank you and have a good end of the day!

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