Language selection


EXecuTALK: Allyship and the Executive Ally (INC1-V15)


This event recording features a panel discussion with public service executives on the topic of proactive allyship as a life-long journey.

Duration: 00:45:08
Published: January 18, 2021
Type: Video

Event: EXecuTALK: Allyship and the Executive Ally

Now playing

EXecuTALK: Allyship and the Executive Ally



Transcript: EXecuTALK: Allyship and the Executive Ally

Nathalie Laviades-Jodouin: Good day everyone, and a virtual welcome to the Canada School of Public Service. My name is Nathalie Laviades-Jodouin. I'm the director general for Respectful and Inclusive Workplaces Learning here at the School. I am delighted to be here with you today. I would like to welcome you as participants of this event, which will be bilingual. Before we begin, I would like to acknowledge that the land by which many of us are viewing this event is the unceded territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin people. Some of you today may be joining us from various parts of the country, and I therefore encourage you to take a moment to recognize and acknowledge the territory that you're occupying. Before we continue, just a few housekeeping items to consider. Please note that because of the bandwidth, some panelists may lose their connection and disappear from the screen. If that happens, please let the system reconnect. I would also like to acknowledge that some people may be working with young children, doing virtual learning, and with many of us at home, we do ask for everyone's patience and compassion throughout the discussion. Throughout today's session, we will be pleased to take questions from participants, and in doing so, we would ask that you submit them by pressing the icon button with the person raising their hand, which is located in the top right-hand corner of your screen. So without further ado, I'm pleased to introduce today's EXecuTALK entitled "Allyship and the Executive Ally," and to introduce to you our guests for today. First, I would like to introduce you to Kenza Bouchaara, Director of Human Resources at the Privy Council Office's Diversity and Inclusion Secretariat. Hello, Kenza, thank you for joining us this afternoon. I'd also like to welcome Patricia Harewood, who is the acting Director of Representation and Legal Services at the Public Service Alliance of Canada. Thank you for joining us today, Patricia.

Patricia Harewood: Thank you. Good day, everyone.

Nathalie Laviades-Jodouin: So I'm going to ask each of you, Kenza and Patricia, to introduce yourselves and as you do so, to answer the following question as part of your introduction. So if you had one keyword or phrase for executives to keep in mind while they attend today's event, what would that be? Starting with you, Patricia.

Patricia Harewood: Okay, thank you very much, Nathalie. And again, hello, everyone. I am the acting Director of Representation and Legal Services at the Public Service Alliance of Canada, and for several years before that, I worked as a legal advisor at the Alliance. I've also worked as an oppression prevention coordinator at PSAC, and that was really a position to advise elected officials on equity issues. The question that you asked is one word and I took some time to think about this. And I think the word that, perhaps, I would use would be proactive. So, not passive, but proactive when we're talking about being an ally. I don't know if you'd like me right now, Nathalie, to explain what I see as an ally. But really, I think as an executive, the focus has to be on being proactive as opposed to being reactive.

Nathalie Laviades-Jodouin: So Patricia, we'll definitely get into what it means to be an ally, but maybe I'll give the floor to Kenza so that she can introduce herself and essentially answer the next question or the same question as Patricia in terms of ... I had said one word or phrase. You gave a word. Okay, we'll hear from Kenza, and then we can begin our discussion. Kenza, go ahead.

Kenza Bouchaara: Yes, hello, everyone. First, I wish you all the best for the New Year, so best wishes for 2021. My name is Kenza Bouchaara and, as Nathalie mentioned, I recently joined the Privy Council Office, as director of the D and I, Diversity and Inclusion Secretariat. Before that, I was actually at the School and the year before, working exclusively on developing and launching and facilitating a course on unconscious biases. And the course has been launched and it's open to all public servants starting last October. So, my perspective to the discussion about diversity and inclusion is that we really—and it's going to be a sentence, Nathalie, for me, I'm from a communication background, one word is just too difficult for me. I'm going to go with a sentence, a long sentence maybe. So, what I want to say is that as executives, we're hearing lots of different words and terminology, we're talking about discrimination, systemic barriers. We're talking about racial discrimination. We're talking about mental health, disability, accessibility. So, I just want to make sure that we're having this holistic approach when we talk about allyship, when we talk about diversity and inclusion, having a holistic and integrated approach on the road map on D and I. So, those are different pieces, but they're all coming together and I would like to invite people for an approach that is an inclusive—we're talking about inclusive leadership. And the approach is really to look at it from a holistic approach. We don't look at it from a piece, an action item, things, having those things in our PMAs and just checking on hiring here and there to work with visible minorities and having two or three conversations. We're talking about a culture. We're talking about a culture that needs to foster more inclusion and it starts by us. So my last question would be, how can I be a more inclusive person—as an individual but also then as an executive, as a leader? So, this is the question that I would like to keep in mind during the conversation. Thank you.  

Nathalie Laviades-Jodouin: Thank you very much, Kenza. So, let's get right into it. Patricia, you started along these lines, but if we can just start by defining allyship and what it means to be an ally, particularly at the executive level.

Patricia Harewood: Sure, so I'm just going to go back, really, to what I said in a panel on July 14 that was hosted by the School, here, as well as the Federal Black Employees Caucus. And the reason I'm going back to what I said there is because that's a panel that was attended by many thousands of federal public servants—I believe there must have been at least 10,000 people on the call. And one of the things I said was just that when we're talking about allyship, we really have to, in my view, change the language. So, I think we really need to be focussed on, essentially, not a passive participation—I said this at the beginning—but really an active participation in advancing equity and, particularly, addressing issues of systemic racial discrimination. So, I prefer the term co-conspirator to ally. I prefer terms like collaborator, partner rather than ally. Ally, as we know, refers to a helper, the noun. The verb refers to unite and forming a connection with. When we think of an alliance, we think of a bond or connection, an association formed to further common interests. So in the context of being an ally at the executive level, I think concretely we need to think about a number of things. One is understanding your power, the power you wield as an executive, the extent of that power and also the limits of it. And that would include things like the power to hire, to fire, to formally and informally mentor, to train, to provide references, to recommend and approve training, to expose persons to networks and insider, but not confidential information about workplace cultures, etc. Too would be, you really have to determine how you, as allies, as executives, are going to use your power to address, for example, issues of systemic racism. So you have to ask yourself the question, to what extent do you intend, I would say, to be courageous? And I know it is Martin Luther King Day in the United States, but one thing Martin Luther King Jr. stated is that injustice everywhere is a threat to justice anywhere. Third, I think you have to take the time to educate yourself. And a part of that education, I think, is recognizing that systemic racism exists and not thinking that racialized individuals and Black people, for example, have to prove that systemic racism exists. We know that even the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Trudeau, has noted several times that systemic racism in particular exists across Canada and in all systems that govern the country. So I don't think you can really be an ally if you're denying that systemic racism exists because that has been such a huge part of the Canadian mythology, unfortunately. And finally, I would say that to be an ally, you really need to publicly align yourself with the struggles of those who are historically disadvantaged and to advocate for that systemic change within the federal public service. So this means collaborating with equity groups, lending resources, which could be time, space, the granting of leave, power, credibility, sometimes in voice, if needed and as requested. Thank you.

Nathalie Laviades-Jodouin: Thank you very much, Patricia. And, Kenza, to add to that definition of collaboration, co‑conspirator, partner and ally, what competencies would you say an executive needs to develop in this manner, or what mindset is required to address racism and promote this alliance? And, if I could go a little further, since you mentioned it in your introduction, what role do unconscious biases play in this context?

Kenza Bouchaara: Thank you very much for that question, Nathalie. It's an important and interesting one. And thank you, Patricia, for setting the stage for this answer by sharing some strategies for becoming an ally. I think that when we were talking – I was making the connection with my introduction earlier; when we talk about inclusive leadership, it takes a certain mindset – so sometimes it can seem a bit theoretical, but it starts by having a certain mindset. Then we have strategies that we can use and competencies on which we can build everything. So, when we talk about inclusive leadership and how we, as individuals, first, before asking others to be more inclusive, before asking our organization to be more inclusive, we have to work on ourselves, and that's where the role of unconscious biases comes in. So I like to use a framework that was created by Jennifer Brown, an American activist who talks about an inclusive continuum leader, and it's a four-step process that can be ... it's a bit intuitive. It talks about the four As. So it's about acknowledging, and I'm linking to what Patricia has just mentioned, it's about awareness, it's about being action-oriented and being an ally. So it's a kind of a four-step process that is very intuitive and very kind of plain language to understand. The acknowledgement piece is exactly what Patricia was saying and her examples were great, in terms of just starting by acknowledging. If you want to be an ally, if you want to be an inclusive leader, it starts by acknowledging the different lived experience of people around us, recognizing that some people face more discrimination than others, recognizing the diversity in terms of lived experience and just start acknowledgement around us. Then, and in that, we need to acknowledge our own biases. And biases doesn't mean racist, OK, we all have biases. There is a popular quote that said, "If you are human, you are biased." So it's something that affects us all. We're all human. We were all raised in a certain way. And we grew up with values. We grew up in a country. We grew up in a school system. We have groups of friends and colleagues, and so on. And all of this defines us. We have to acknowledge where we come from and put a little work into thinking about, "What implicit stereotypes could I have that could affect my work?" Because, believe it or not, when you are staffing, when you are managing projects, when you are connecting with people, some biases may have an impact on how you do things and the decisions that you make. And we're talking about the leadership. We're talking about us as being executives. So we have a role to play and we have a responsibility to look at our own biases. So all the acknowledgement is the first phase. Then you have the awareness phase, and then being action-oriented, which is basically to move from the concept into inclusive behaviours and attitudes, into becoming an ally where you are kind of fostering all that. So in terms of the competencies, if I can go fast on the competencies, I like to use the Deloitte Insight Framework, the six characteristics – the traits of inclusive leaders. And it's the six Cs. So it's basically cognizance of our biases, we just talked about it. Curiosity, being open to learn and to grow and to learn from others, right? Cultural intelligence, having the ability to interact in different competencies, different cultural environments. We talk about the commitment of making it a priority. We're talking about courage. Thank you, Patricia, you talk about it, which is the first step in getting comfortable with some discussion that may make us feel uncomfortable. And the last one is the collaboration into the empathy, is how you can listen to others' history with empathy, even if you have not faced or been exposed to those situations. So that's, if I can summarize, the mindset and the set of competencies that we need to foster in being a more inclusive leader and ally.

Nathalie Laviades-Jodouin: Thank you very much. So I think a lot there for us to think about and if I can pick up on this notion of courage for this next question for you, Patricia. How do we navigate the different power dynamics that exist vis-à-vis an executive's role with an employee, with a colleague, with their boss? And more specifically, how do you speak up or call someone out if they have more power than you?

Patricia Harewood: So that is such an interesting question. And of course, as an executive, it is something that would come up often. I think the issue of power is central. And I think as an executive, you sort of have to begin to understand how the power you wield works and operates. And also the parameters of the limits of that power. I think it's part of your job as an executive, and you always do it by evaluating this dynamic when you meet an employee who says something discriminatory, for example, in the workplace. When you meet your boss, for example, and you notice that someone said something discriminatory. So I think you have to, regarding the culture of calling out or call-out culture, I think you have to be careful, obviously, because I think while we can encourage a call-out culture, you don't want that to have a negative impact on the overall workplace culture. So I think you have to evaluate what is the best way to address, for example, a discriminatory behaviour in the workplace. Is it by raising it in that group setting with other employees there, or is it by taking that employee aside, or even I would say taking your boss aside, to say "You know, what you said is actually discriminatory and here is why," or "That particular term has a specific meaning which is negative and derogatory for this group of people, and this is why." So I think that obviously you have to use your diplomacy skills, and I assume that you have those skills because you're already an executive, and you have to become a bit more comfortable with uncomfortable discussions. And for that, I encourage you to practise. You have to practise having these conversations. So, with a colleague you're comfortable with or even in front of a mirror, and listen, I am absolutely – this is not a joke – I think you absolutely have to practise because otherwise when you begin the discussion, you may not feel comfortable bringing up the topic, or you may bring it up in a way that is not necessarily appropriate. So I think practice is key in this, with colleagues, with people that you feel safe with in addressing issues that have arisen in the workplace.

Nathalie Laviades-Jodouin: And keeping with the bilingual format, voilà une transition parfaite. Kenza, there are executives who are intimidated or who are scared of making mistakes in the workplace. So, can you suggest any concrete actions in terms of where we should begin?

Kenza Bouchaara: This is a question that I've been asked often in the sessions and courses I've facilitated. Sometimes, people want to do things right, but they fear that they'll slip up or ask a question in an inappropriate way. I think it starts with courage – we talked about it – but it's saying what exactly do we gain from maintaining the status quo? The issues won't get resolved if we're not able to talk about them. So, yes, it takes courage, but above all, I'm going back a little to Patricia's point, which is the right one: it's perseverance. I think I would also add intentions. Clarify your intentions. When you start a discussion that is a little more, maybe, difficult or a little more uncomfortable, clarify what you want to accomplish. And we're all in this together. I think we shouldn't look at it from a two-party perspective, but like we're in this together, we want to learn and grow. And be humble. Recognize that there are things that we know and things that we don't know and we're all learning in that. So, I would say there's a kind of attitude that we have to have in the beginning so that we can have these conversations. First, we need an environment that encourages employees or our teams to talk safely. If the culture is there, if the culture allows for it, if the culture is one of listening, of respect – we don't talk much about the term respect, but I think it's a value that's very important in all of these actions and in this work that we want to do together in diversity and inclusion – it takes respect for who they are, their differences, their diversity, what they bring to the table, their talent, their merit, without judgment. So it takes an encouraging attitude that makes people want to talk and express themselves. So once we have that kind of positive, constructive environment in which we acknowledge that we all have a role to play, in which we're all learning, regardless of our hierarchical level, we're all learning on this journey. And I think it's important that we all realize that. Now, there's everything... So I have to say that the intention is an important one, the repetition. And as Patricia mentioned, moving progressively from the uncomfortable to the comfortable and from the don't know to the know. And that's going to come together as we go, as we practise, as we persevere. So that's the mindset. In terms of action, if our colleagues are looking for actions related to, say, diversity and inclusion, I think I can refer to the deputy ministers' commitments that were sent to everyone in October. For executives, it's very well articulated. It's a framework that is very well articulated. It talks about three types of actions, three concrete pillars. The first one is the culture of inclusion: how can we foster inclusive culture? Because if we want to address the issue, people need to feel comfortable coming forward and talking. If we don't have that culture, where we are going to learn and listen to each other actively and learn from each other, I mean, people are going to come up from the copy and paste activity here and there, that will not address the issue that we're facing in our own groups. The second pillar is representation. So looking at employment equity data, looking at what is lacking in terms of representation in our organization, in our branch, in senior management. If we look at the data and the lacking representation of certain groups. And the third pillar is the policies and programs that we use, which are the drivers of what we see and do. Can we review them with an inclusion lens? What can we do to improve that? I think that in terms of road map, we have the mindset and the competencies and the willingness and everything, but we do have some articulate work that is here that can guide us throughout the process in terms of what we want to do short term, medium term and long term.

Nathalie Laviades-Jodouin: Great! Thank you very much, Kenza. I have a follow-up question on this topic for Patricia, but I just want to maybe remind the people who are listening today to feel free to send us questions at any time. It's an EXecuTALK, I'm happy to speak to my colleagues here, but there will be a point in time shortly where we'll turn to your questions as well. So do feel free to submit them and use the raised hand icon button to do so. So, Patricia, to follow up on what has been said, for an executive who is getting into this work as an ally, how should we react if they make a mistake, commit a faux pas or say the wrong thing? What would you suggest?

Patricia Harewood: Yes, so I would just like to repeat what Kenza said about the culture. We really have to foster a culture that allows for mistakes. That means that we know we're not perfect. We know that, as Kenza said, everyone has unconscious biases, and, actually, I encourage you to do the Harvard test of unconscious biases and, as executives, to do it every year to see what your unconscious biases are. But it's allowing for a culture in which people will make mistakes, which means that you, as leaders, you will make mistakes too. And when you do, first, I think it's important to accept it, admit it, but also to educate yourself, obviously, so that you don't make the same mistake again. Because I must say that while it is not the intention that counts here, it is the impact. Even though you have good intentions, your impact, the impact of those intentions or those actions may in fact be discriminatory. I think what we have to come to realize is that communities, that equity groups or historically disadvantaged groups do get frustrated, especially those in the federal public service, when people make errors again and again. So when the same error is repeated and there is no education, there doesn't seem to be any enlightenment and there's no growth, that's where people become increasingly frustrated. So I think it's fine to make the error or the gaffe, but it's important to learn from the error, and then try not to repeat it in the future. And I know, I've certainly seen executives in my role, both as a representative of hundreds of federal public sector workers, I've seen situations where management and executives do make errors and do apologize—let's say, in the course of a mediation, shall we say—where there are also apologies that are authentic. And there's actually quite a bit of research on how to make an apology. And that can be part of your education as well. But I think it's not just the culture and the admitting, but also ensuring that you're not going to repeat the same mistake again and again.

Nathalie Laviades-Jodouin: And which is why, Patricia, if I may, if I put my learning hat on, this is why the work and the learning in this space are not just a one-time deal. And it's important, as you said, to visit and revisit, whether it's your biases, whether it's continuing to educate yourself and grow. This is not a one-time process and then you walk away and you're good to go. The context is evolving. Language is changing and evolving. So it behooves us, all of us as executives, to keep up with that and to continue that continuous learning journey, if you will. OK, off with my learning hat. Another question here and I'll start with you, perhaps, Patricia, one that we're hearing when I look at events that we're offering to all public servants. So, many executives are hearing from employees—and I'll say it, from white employees—who feel that they're experiencing some form of reverse racism as a result of some of the measures that are being proactively put in place, whether it's executive staffing processes that are only open to visible minorities or indigenous peoples or programs that are created or target employment equity groups. What's the most effective way, in your experience, to respond to these claims?  

Patricia Harewood: Thanks so much for the question, Nathalie. So I guess what I would say is, first of all, you have to respond and you can't be silent. And one responds with education, I would say, and also with information. So it's important for people to understand what employment equity is, what the purpose of corrective measures are to correct historic disadvantage. It's important for staff to recognize why positive and proactive measures are actually non-discriminatory and not racist. And this is embedded in employment equity legislation. It's embedded in human rights legislation. It's even embedded in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that corrective measures, that corrective programs, that special programs or special measures to correct historic disadvantage are, in fact, not discriminatory. So I think you have to sort of dispel that myth because that's exactly what it is, a myth. So I would also like to say that silence here is really complicity. And I may even go a little further and say that it's actually a racist idea to think that staffing processes in which white employees, for example, have participated have generally been fair, even if the success rate of white employees is disproportionate. So I think that, let me be clear, it's a racist idea that white employees are just smarter, that they're more competent and they're just more meritorious than any other employee. The idea is that white employees get jobs based on merit, whereas non-white employees don't. They're given handouts because they are inferior. So I'm just confronting the idea, OK? And I know it's confrontational, but I think we have to understand where these ideas come from. And we have to understand the roots of these ideas. I'm reading a book by Ibram Kendi in the United States, and he briefly describes the history of racist ideas. I know this may not be the answer to this question that we're looking for, but since, in my work, I have often encountered these ideas that proactive and corrective measures are actually discriminatory, I was obliged to find ways to ultimately respond to these attacks on employment equity in a direct, clear and straightforward manner. So, thank you.

Nathalie Laviades-Jodouin: Thank you, Patricia. And while you feel, perhaps, that bringing this is a big—but this is why we're here, we're here to have exactly the conversations that, perhaps, in the past we were not having. So, I really appreciate your candor and your willingness to address these issues directly. So, if I may, a question just came in from one of our listeners, and to give Patricia a little break, I'll maybe start with Kenza. So the question is: I find language really matters. For example, we use the term G7 Sherpa, but Sherpa is an ethnic group, not a job title. Are there specific tools or guides that can help ensure we are using inclusive language?

Kenza Bouchaara: Thank you very much for the question. I'm just reading at the same time, so that's why it looks as if I'm zooming in on myself. Yes, of course, language, it's part of our behaviours and our attitudes. So language is part of inclusion. When we were talking initially about how we should translate those themes of allyship, inclusive leadership into behaviours and attitude, the talking, the way we talk, the verbal and the non-verbal, they are all important. And we're moving into some more inclusive wording with gender-neutral wording. Yes, the words that we use are important, and the way that we use them is also important. I'll be honest, I'm not very familiar with the term that the person who asked the question used, but I think that what I take away from this question is that, yes, language, using the appropriate language in the appropriate context is important. It is part of our behaviour. The words we use are a part of the message of inclusion or non-inclusion that we're trying to convey. So that's what I would say on the matter. I don't know if you want to see what Patricia has to say.

Nathalie Laviades-Jodouin: Patricia, anything you want to add around inclusive language?

Kenza Bouchaara: Patricia is on mute.

Patricia Harewood: So distance learning, here we go.

Nathalie Laviades-Jodouin: Ah yes, here we go.

Patricia Harewood: Many things happening at a time. So I guess what I would say with inclusive language is that it is a journey. As your journey in diversity and inclusion and equity, it is a constant journey. Words change. The word used, for example, to describe Black people in the Americas in the 1960s was Negro. We don't use that word anymore, right? So words change. The words that people in the diverse LGBTQ2S community use, those words are changing, and I think we have to continue to educate ourselves by reaching out to those communities to see what words are the appropriate ones. And I think it really does go to culture. And I'm going to insist on this because there are certain terms that will absolutely exclude people. I remember, for example, that I was taking part in a panel on human rights issues, and I said a word about processes for screening candidates without seeing their names, for example. I used a term, for example, that was not right, that was not appropriate. And after the presentation, someone came to see me and said, "Patricia, you know that the word you used, it's not a term we use in the disability community," and so I learned, I learned. And the term was blind screening, which, many people don't like the term and certainly in the disability rights community would say, "It's not a term that we use." So that's just an example where I, myself, learned. But I think there are many other examples, some of which we've seen in the media, in the educational system, for example, and the university sector and even in the public service. Thank you.

Nathalie Laviades-Jodouin: Thank you both. I'm going to ask the next question, which is about data. We haven't spoken about data specifically, so perhaps we can get your thoughts on this. So the question reads as follows: Kenza spoke about employment equity data, which can be very helpful. Can you speak to, going a level deeper, however, for example, EE data, aggregate data on members of "visible minorities," which may make it hard to quantify and address anti-Black racism in particular? Parallel challenges may exist for other communities that disappear in aggregate data, but this one is top of mind. Do we have the data we need for the deeper analysis and more targeted efforts to remove barriers and biases? Who would like to take that one first? Kenza, go ahead.

Kenza Bouchaara: I think that there's two angles when we talk about the data—and, yes, the data are important—when we talk about representation, I think: the quantitative aspect and the qualitative aspect. The quantitative aspect will give us a kind of snapshot of where we are in terms of organization. And we can also look at it even at the branch level. We're doing that work at PCO, looking at, really, the data by branches and even within the branches, by classification, by level. So we're going really deeper and deeper. Looking at the data will give us an idea about what we're lacking in terms of representation in all groups. But we know we need also to look at the qualitative things, which is how we run our processes, how we run the selection boards, the tool that we use. Patricia mentioned not putting the name as a way to also prevent biases from affecting the way we recruit, which is an important. So it's a mix of getting deeper with our data within our own organization and go more than—the corporate organization is very big and it's too micro, but we need to go to the branches because there are sectors, there are classifications that may have more challenges in terms of representation than others. So we really have to get into the details. We're going to buckle down to get into the details, but at the same time, we have to review the way we manage our processes. Making sure that the way that the selection boards are diversified, the questions that we use, are inclusive, the way we are running our staffing is inclusive. Now we're all connected virtually, so in terms of recruitment, etc., is the way we recruit accessible to everyone? We have to look at it from all angles. So there's a qualitative aspect and a quantitative one, and by working a bit on both, we'll be able to improve the way we manage these programs, but also the data, which is what we want to do, what we want to extract and looking at where the gaps are, from a staffing process perspective and from a data perspective, means there is work to do on both sides.

Nathalie Laviades-Jodouin: Thank you very much. And actually, Patricia, I was going to ask you to comment on this question, but maybe I'll pose it in the context of the following question that's come in, which is another one on data, which I find interesting. So, when speaking about data, what should be our response when it's believed that the numbers are inaccurate because members of certain communities refuse to self-identify? So I wanted to bring in the self-identification piece here, if you wanted to address it in the context of this data question.

Patricia Harewood: Okay. So first I'll say that I'm not an employment equity expert, but we do have experts, of course. But what I can say is simply that in terms of self-identification, it's a process that is completely voluntary, obviously, and when the reaction is "listen, we don't have the data," I think we have to start by asking questions about why there are no data. Why don't people want to self-identify? Often, underlying this reality is a cultural reality in the workplace, and I've experienced this in these workplaces, which causes people to fear self-identifying. Either they think they'll receive prejudicial treatment, that people will think they were given opportunities because they're members of an employment equity group, not because they deserved the opportunities, or they're simply not at all comfortable in the workplace.

Nathalie Laviades-Jodouin: Thank you very much. I see that time is running out. I don't know if it's you, but it seems as though time is speeding up. That's not possible. So, maybe, if I could ask you the following question. I'll ask you each for your thoughts on it. It may be a question that will seem a bit more pragmatic: How can executives promote allyship in the context of developing and implementing policies and programs? And in this context is allyship a robust consultation process that takes into account various perspectives or is it something different? Like what is it or what could that look like, allyship in a context of developing or implementing policies or programs? Kenza, would you like to start?

Kenza Bouchaara: Yes, I'd be happy to. Well, I think it's more than a process. I think, Nathalie, you mentioned a consultation process, right, in your sentence?  I think it's a way of working. I think that proactive allyship and looking at our program and policy within proactive allyship perspective, it's much more than that. It's the way we work, it's the way we manage our project. So, it's co-working, co-designing, it's putting diversity around the table, listening to this diversity. Because it's all well and good to have diversity, but, at a certain point, if we don't have strategies or tools to allow people to talk and express themselves, well, we'll have diversity on paper but not in reality. So I think it's a way of incorporating the inclusion lens to what we do. And, for example, we have gender-based analysis plus, which is a tool that exists within the government in terms of looking at everything that we do, our programme and policy with an inclusion lens, making sure that we have everyone around the table, we're consulting those who need to be consulting. We are co-designing and co-working with those who are impacting. So, I think that allyship is a way of working, that it defines all the "how," it's defining how we work and how we want to improve the way we manage our program and policies. That would be my summary for that question.

Nathalie Laviades-Jodouin: Thank you very much, Kenza. Patricia?

Patricia Harewood: Yes, so just to add to what Kenza has so eloquently said, what I would say is that, of course, it's consultation and, of course, it's listening, as we have said, but there also has to be an implementation piece. And so I think that one has to go from consultation because, often, many groups who are from equity groups in the public service think that that's where we stay, right? We love to write reports. Government loves to write reports, to task force, workforce, etc. But ultimately, were those recommendations implemented? And here, I'll just make reference to the joint work, that task force that was done on diversity and inclusion in 2018 and all of the recommendations that came out of that. That was a union, a management work, joint work. So one has to move, and with excellent recommendations, from the actual recommendations to actual implementation plan. And I think that's, sometimes, where it is felt that executives who are part of this process fall short; that we like, you like to talk, but then the actual implementation piece, that's a bit more difficult, obviously. But I think that to achieve this goal, you have to have clear objectives, and you need a strategy to implement these recommendations.

Nathalie Laviades-Jodouin: Absolutely. So, listen, that's it. We're out of time, I would not be doing my moderator role service if I kept us much longer than promised. So with that, this event has come to an end, but it is certainly not the end of the conversation or the discussion. So, on behalf of the School, I would like to thank our guests this afternoon. Kenza and Patricia, thank you very much for taking the time to share your observations with us. I think you've given many of us, or so I hope, a lot to think about and for us to pursue on in terms of our growth journey in this space. Thank you to our participants for taking the time to be part of this important conversation. You will be receiving an evaluation form. We do ask that you complete it as your feedback is important to us to make sure that we're always providing you with the learning opportunities that you ask and need. If you're interested in diversity, equity and inclusion, I do want to mention that the School is hosting another event, another EXecuTALK on February 22, which will explore the notion of sponsorship. So, do register. Once again, thank you for joining us today. Enjoy the rest of your day, and we'll see you next time.

Kenza Bouchaara: Thank you very much.

Patricia Harewood: Thank you.

Related links

Date modified: