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EXecuTALK: A Special Event – Building and Maintaining a Culture of Inclusion (INC1-V14)


This event recording features a panel discussion on how to enact meaningful change towards a culture of inclusion in the federal public service.

Duration: 01:29:22
Published: March 12, 2021
Type: Video

Event: EXecuTALK: A Special Event – Building and Maintaining a Culture of Inclusion

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EXecuTALK: A Special Event – Building and Maintaining a Culture of Inclusion



Transcript: EXecuTALK: A Special Event – Building and Maintaining a Culture of Inclusion

[The animated white Canada School of Public Service logo appears on a purple background. Pages turn, opening it like a book. A maple leaf appears in the middle of the book that also resembles a flag, with curvy lines beneath. The title is beside it.]

Webcast | Webdiffusion

[It fades out, replaced by a Zoom video call with four participants. The moderator, Yazmine Laroche, is in the bottom right window. She is a white woman with black glasses and a pink sweater. She has a purple virtual background. On its top right corner are the words "The future is accessible/L'avenir est accessible." On the top left are seven different coloured symbols of accessibility, including a walking cane and a wheelchair. Beneath the symbols are two hashtags: "#nothingwithoutus" and "#riensansnous." Yazmine smiles at the three other participants, who are all women of colour.]

Yazmine Laroche [YL]: Hi, everybody, and virtual welcome to the Canada School of Public Service. My name is Yazmine Laroche and I'm the Deputy Minister for Public Service Accessibility. I'm very pleased to be here with you today for this discussion. I would also like to welcome you as a participant in this event, whose format will be bilingual. But before we begin, of course, I would like to acknowledge that the land from which I am participating in this event is on the unceded territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin people. Some of you today may be joining us from various parts of the country, and I would encourage you just to take a moment to recognize and acknowledge the territory that you are occupying.
Before we continue, there are just a few housekeeping items to consider. Please note that because of the bandwidth, panelists may lose the connection and disappear from the screen.

[Yazmine's window fills the screen. In the bottom left corner, a purple text box with white writing identifies her.]

Yazmine Laroche

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat | Secrétariat Conseil du Trésor du Canada
If this is the case, please allow the system to recover. Throughout today's session, we'll be happy to take questions from any of you. In doing so, we'd ask that you submit them by pressing the icon button with the person raising their hand located in the top right-hand corner of your screen.

[The purple text fades away.]

Now, let's introduce today's EXecuTALK entitled "Building and Creating a Culture of Inclusion" — « Créer et maintenir une culture d'inclusion ». When we talk about an inclusive workplace, this represents a fair, equitable, positive, welcoming and fully respectful workplace. It acknowledges and values differences in terms of identity, abilities, backgrounds, cultures, skills, experiences and points of view that support and strengthen the framework for evolving human rights in Canada. I would add that it simply makes us better. When you are truly representative of the Canadians that we serve, you have better policy and program outcomes. So as executives, what's your role in creating this culture of inclusion? How do you set the tone for an inclusive workplace? How do you lead by example? How good are you at bringing in and retaining diverse talent?

These are questions that we want to address today. And I want us to really dive into the problems, challenges and solutions, because your words and your actions are important as we work on creating an inclusive culture in the public service.

So, let me explain to you a little why it is so important for me. Some of you will have heard me tell you that when I was a small child, my father told me that I could be anything I wanted to be. And because of this neuromuscular condition that I have, those words had a very profound effect on me. I know what it's like to face challenges and barriers. I also knew at a pretty early age that somehow I wanted to make a difference in people's lives. And certainly, the federal public service has offered me so many opportunities to make a difference in many ways. And finally, after almost three decades, here I am as the first Deputy Minister for Public Service Accessibility.

I would be sugar-coating it if I said that it was easy. There were a lot of obstacles along the way. As a woman with a visible disability, I didn't have many role models over the course of my life. There was nobody that looked like me in leadership in the federal public service. And throughout my career, I've had to turn down invitations to events, office lunches, retirement parties, because they were being held in venues that were not accessible. And I have faced barriers in office buildings where I work because of accessibility issues. I like to say I've become quite the expert on the back door and the alternative ways of getting in and out of many different buildings. So I know what exclusion feels like, and it's painful.

The sad thing is in many instances, it was predictable and avoidable. But too often we think it's somebody else's job, especially in the public service. We wait for somebody to design the policy and tell us what to do. We're afraid of making mistakes, but I believe profoundly in the power of individuals to make a difference. I think of the one person who decided to rent a ramp so that I could go to the annual executive Christmas party in their house. I think of the one individual who just called my office and said: "Could you give us a list of accessible restaurants that she likes so that we can organize lunches in a place that works for her?" It was that simple. Do you know what I felt after these individuals made sure that I could participate? I felt included and, more importantly, I had the feeling that I belonged to a team. And for me, inclusion is when we feel that we fit in.

So, think about what you can do on a daily basis to make someone feel that they belong to your team, directorate, department. If employees feel that they don't fit in, how can they give their best to their work? And I'm sure that many of you have experienced exclusion at some time in your life. It's a feeling that no public servant should have to face. That's why today's session is so important. The Clerk from the Privy Council has challenged executives to take tangible and meaningful steps towards diversity and inclusion, and he has told us that inaction is not an option. So let's get started.

I'm here today with some amazing panelists and I am so looking forward to our discussion. So to start, because we want to make the session very interactive and free-flowing, I'm going to ask each speaker to introduce themselves and answer this question: in your own words, what does a culture of inclusion look like? In your own words, what does a culture of inclusion mean for you? And I'm going to ask, we'll go in this order, Valerie, Paule-Anny and Jackie. So, Valerie, would you like to introduce yourself, please?

[Valerie smiles. She is an olive-skinned woman with wavy brown hair. She wears a patterned shirt and a headset. She sits in front of a window. A bare tree is in the sunshine behind her. Valerie's window fills the screen.]

Valerie Gideon [VG]: Absolutely. Good afternoon, everyone. I also want to acknowledge that I'm on the traditional, unceded territory of the Algonquin Nation. So, my name is Valerie Gideon. I am Mi'kmaq from the Gesgapegiag First Nation.

[A purple text box pops up, identifying her.]

Valerie Gideon

Indigenous Services Canada | Services aux Autochtones Canada

I'm a mother of two beautiful daughters, five and eight. And I am the Associate Deputy Minister at Indigenous Services Canada. I've been in the public service really since 2007, November 2007.

[The purple text box fades away.]

I actually was bridged in from the Assembly of First Nations, but I had been an Indigenous student, actually, in the public service. And I had been bridged in for a short period at the beginning of my professional career, but I chose to go into advocacy and work directly for First Nations organizations for several years. So when I joined the public service, for me, it was interesting to see a very different environment that I was joining. But I felt it was a very strong environment. From the beginning, even though when you think of the context, I was at the Assembly of First Nations, I was on the other side of the table, I was negotiating some pretty big initiatives—we were working on the First Ministers' Meeting on Aboriginal Issues at that time as well. There had been a change of government and very different sort of working relationships with Indigenous peoples at that time. And here I came in to manage a regional office, the largest regional office, actually, that the Department had in First Nations Inuit health.

There were not that many Indigenous employees in the region at that time. And there certainly were not a lot of Indigenous executives in the Department at that time. So the reaction that I could have had would have been one of: "Oh, my goodness, she's coming in from the AFN and it's just going to be chaos." I could have had a lot of resistance. I could have not felt welcomed. I could have felt like I would have had to be careful with respect to what I said in terms of how I intervened at the table. That was not my experience at all. My experience was very welcoming.

My experience was that I had a lot of support to actually contribute my voice and controversial ideas to support change. I've had many different bosses in the federal public service and I've moved up, obviously, from where I started. I was an EX-02 at that time in the region until, of course, I'm the Associate today. I've had many different Deputy Ministers and I've never felt that I wasn't supported for who I was. So it's interesting and I think it's important to share that because it's very different, for example, than the story that Yazmine shared. But it's important to share that and to say, "Look, I've always felt that there is a tremendous opportunity in the public service for a culture of inclusion, of diversity." I've certainly actually felt that the culture of the public service, to me, was more respectful to diversity than other organizational environments that I had worked in previously. So we do have some strengths to build on, and we're not starting from necessarily just a deficit-based environment. I think we have to recognize that.

I'm certainly very encouraged with the momentum that we're seeing and certainly the attention of the Clerk, the attention of all Deputies across government, the attention of, really, all senior leadership in the public service. But also, I feel that our employee networks are becoming stronger in terms of having less of a fear of reprisal to really come forward. We're seeing a lot of advocacy. We're seeing a lot of innovation, entrepreneurship with respect to employees coming together to really push for those more inclusive communities in the public service. And I think we have to ensure that we can be responsive.

So for me, really, a culture of inclusion is to ensure that everybody has a voice. Now, I mean, that voice has to be respectful in tone, but it is really important to ensure that we're giving all employees an opportunity to contribute that voice in different ways. I think it's important for people to feel that their values are respected. It doesn't mean that we all share the same values. But I think at the end of the day, we have to ensure that we are not taking away from someone else's values by having our own. That's the key message for me. I think we have to ensure that we're supporting a continuous learning environment and a listening environment. I should have said listening first. A Grand Chief in British Columbia once said—well, he says that story to many people, but the difference between a bureaucrat and a public servant is that the bureaucrat will come in and sort of deliver a statement or their position or something that looks like a fait accompli. A public servant comes from a place of listening. And so that's always stayed with me, and I always want to ensure that I have appropriately listened and listened for a sufficient amount of time before I have formulated an opinion or made a decision so that I'm not just doing it from my own perspective, because as a public servant, I have a responsibility to go beyond myself every single moment of the day because I am representing, essentially, service to Canadians.

And then finally, I would say a culture of inclusion for me is smiling, laughing, having some fun. I used to work with a former president of a public service union, a very, very strong individual, and he used to say to me: "Val, I just want my members to smile in the mirror when they're putting on their tie or their shirt or their blouse or their t-shirt or whatever, their sweatshirt, because they know they're going in to work in the morning. That's all I want." So in order for that very simple sort of objective to be achieved, the culture of the public service has to be inclusive. Thank you very much.

[The other participants' video windows reappear. Jacqueline and Paule-Anny smile.]

YL: Thank you, Valerie. That was awesome. Now, I'm going to turn to Paule‑Anny Pierre.

[Paule-Anny waves. She is a Black woman with short curly hair and black glasses. She wears a pink blazer and a black blouse with a white pattern. On the wall behind her is a brightly coloured geometric painting. Paule-Anny's window fills the screen.]

Paule-Anny Pierre [PAP]: Hello everyone. Thank you for welcoming me to this panel with colleagues that I admire very much.

[A purple text box appears in the bottom left corner.]

Paule-Anny Pierre

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat | Secrétariat Conseil du Trésor du Canada

So, I'm also on the territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe Nation and the topic we are going to address today really gets to me. I'm currently the Executive Director of the Centre for Diversity and Inclusion at the Treasury Board Secretariat.

[The text box fades away.]

The Centre was established in August to help really accelerate progress across the public service. And this is great in my new role because I'm not from HR. I have not been a champion for EE. This is new to me, but close to my heart also. So in my new role, I get to bring together at the table various stakeholders who can help make this happen. So, working with employee network groups, executives for sure—the people who are senior leaders designated by their Deputy Minister to be the people responsible for the employment equity, diversity and inclusion. I work with the organizations that are also enabling in the system—so, of course, working with the Canada School, the Public Service Commission, PCO, etc. So today, this is really important because we're talking amongst executives. This is really an opportunity for us to say things as it is. And I hope that through the conversation of the questions, that we can shed some light on some of your questions, but also provide you with some tools to really take action and take the steps that we need to take today.

I joined the public service about 15 years ago, so I was in mid-career. I already had 13 or 14 years of a professional career outside, even at the director level. And I must say that, upon my entry into the public service, I nevertheless worked in organizations whose culture was sometimes inclusive, sometimes less inclusive.

So, I think it's really important for us to unpack today what makes it an inclusive organization. And I would like to say that this is not separate. We don't have one organizational culture and then one inclusive culture. It goes together. Diversity, inclusion, is integrated into the organization. So that being said, if we look at some of the traits, for me personally, what I look at, it's really embracing differences. I said I came in from outside of the public service mid-career. I found that sometimes my experience acquired externally was not recognized. And in some of the conversations when I would bring up some point of view that is different from what is traditional within the public service, it was at times shut down. So, recognizing but also embracing and valuing difference; difference of people, difference of approaches, difference of perspectives. And I want to see employees from various backgrounds. I want to see employees who come, also, with their own selves. They don't have to feel like they have to put on a mask or check themselves out.

It's really funny that, with COVID, people who haven't seen me for some time say: "Paule-Anny, your hair is curly!" It's because I used to straighten them, and Black women will know about this. These are small things, feeling comfortable for being ourselves and being accepted, and feeling that our contribution is valued. So I think today we're going to talk about some of the ways we can do that, and I hope that for those for whom diversity and inclusion still feel like empty notions or vague concepts, I hope that we can unpack this and really address what makes it real, and provide you with some tools. So, I'm happy to contribute today and also to talk about behaviours and actions that will make a difference. Thank you for the invitation.

[The other participants' windows reappear.]

YL: Thank you very much, Paule-Anny! Great start. And now I'd like to turn to Jacqueline Rigg. Jackie, would you like to introduce yourself and address the first question?

[Jacqueline is a Black woman with short straight hair. She wears a black blazer over a white blouse, and she has earbuds in. In the background, books are stacked on a side table. An abstract painting hangs on the wall. Jacqueline's window fills the screen. She smiles. There is a scuffling sound as she speaks.]

Jacqueline Rigg [JR]: Absolutely. Thank you very much, Deputy Laroche. First, I would like to acknowledge that I am standing on unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe territory.

[A purple text box in the bottom left corner identifies her.]

Jacqueline Rigg

Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada |

Association professionnelle des cadres supérieurs de la Fonction publique du Canada

I'm very happy to be here. My name is Jacqueline Rigg. I am the CEO of the Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada. I have been the CEO for approximately two years, going on two years.

[The purple box fades away.]

And before that, I had several senior-level positions in the public service. A little bit about me, I am a second-career public servant. I do have 20 years in the private sector and I joined the public service as a second career. I've been in the public service for over 10 years and have had a great career. This is really important to me because I have experienced, sometimes, exclusion because of who I am, what I look like. And I just think it's important to know that even though I may have experienced that, sometimes I've also experienced many great experiences, people that have been very inclusive and gone out of their way.

If you ask me, and I'll be pretty quick, what does a culture of inclusion mean to me? What it means to me is fair play. Not tokenism, not favouritism. Labelling people is easy, but it doesn't get us where we want to be. Fundamentally, everybody wants to play the game and they want to play the game to win. If I put this as a sports analogy, everyone in a team, everyone on the field wants the opportunity to play their very best game. They want to be treated fairly. They want consistent and fair judging, and what they really want is a level playing field. I'm talking about having a culture that has equality for all segments. It has system equality, individual equality and equality of opportunities for everyone. In my heart, it really should be a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion, focusing on the equity. And I wanted to close off my comments, and I know they're short and I'm trying to get us to the next part, but we can't have this culture of diversity, equity and inclusion without us leaders behaving in a certain way. We have a huge responsibility on this. We need to be leaders that are cognizant and we have to be committed and we have to be courageous to make that change. I'm looking forward to participating in this segment and I plan to have an open and honest discussion with you. Thank you.

[The other participants' windows reappear.]

YL: Wow! See, there was a reason I was looking forward so much to this panel: three amazing women leaders. This has been so rich and I'm really glad that—I think what, Valerie, you mentioned is so important. I want to land on that and I'm going to do a follow-up question with you, Valerie, if I may, because I think you brought a really important perspective to this. It is not always doom and gloom. Of course, we want to bring a spotlight on the areas that are not working as well as they should be. And we also want to build an environment where people can speak up when they are dealing with bias and discrimination. And yet you describe an environment that was welcoming to you as somebody who came from outside of the public service. You had mentors and people who believed in you and supported you. And I just wonder if you could share a little bit more about that. What I really want to get at, because we've got an audience full of executives here—what did those people who were welcoming to you and made you feel included, what did they do? What was it about the way they interacted with you that made you feel included?

[Valerie's window fills the screen.]

VG: Well, I mean, I think they very quickly, and this is not I mean—it's in the public service and also even outside the public service, like even how I was working in a First Nations' health context in the public service, and how even the Chiefs and the health technicians also really welcomed me. So it was coming from both sides. And I think what they did is they really invested in me. They wanted me to really, truly understand the operations and everything that they were doing to support communities.

If I had only been holding on to my presumptions or my assumptions about what the federal public service was, it would have been my own doom and gloom because I would have prevented myself from essentially—if I had hung on to my biases, and if I had been stubborn about it and said: "I'm not going to like this place, I can't like this place, these are the people that I've been advocating against for all of my other career," then I would have been doing everybody a disservice. But I really came in with a student mindset. I wanted to understand. I couldn't understand why some very simple things in my mind just couldn't get done or wouldn't change.

So, I went in with that kind of approach and I really learned the ropes. I went around with communities, with the regional folks, and they were incredible to me. The amount of time that they spent with me to teach me, essentially, was just so incredibly valuable. I think the public service offers such an incredible richness in terms of the diversity of the experiences that a public servant can have and that an executive can have. It's not about pushing dockets, right? You can experience a tremendous amount of valuable things and you can meet an incredible amount of fantastic people. Even just the value of networking in the public service is so important. So, for me, that was really it. People not only accepted and respected me, but they invested in my knowledge. They really wanted me to have a feeling of belonging in terms of my role as an executive in the public service, and as an Indigenous woman.

I never compromised. I have never forgotten the realities that the communities face. Not at all. It even energized me in my cause because now, I can really represent more effectively all the issues and be more effective in my role to bring about change and make decisions. As an executive, I believe one thing: we have a greater capacity to change things. When you are an employee or an employee at other levels in the public service, and then, for example, you are an Indigenous employee, you don't necessarily have the same opportunities that I have had. Me, I came in as EX-02. Me, I have also never forgotten this, and of course it's very important.

I take a tremendous amount of responsibilities on my shoulders as an executive and I can say: "I can make decisions myself, I can make the necessary changes," so I cannot forget the fact that it's important for all employees to have this same... I know that it's not exactly the same, but we are capable of listening and we are capable of ensuring that we stay really closely connected to our people, to our team members so that they remind us of what it is that we need to change and their realities and their experiences. You can't take for granted the privilege you have as an executive to be able to influence decision-making. That is such a powerful thing. So if you can prioritize the importance of a culture of inclusivity in your own environment, you know that you're benefiting people every day.

[The other participants' windows reappear.]

YL: Thank you so much. That was great. That was great. Paule-Anny, I just want to ask a question following something you said. I was really struck by something that you said and it's this issue of self-censorship, right? You just talked about how, I think you look amazing, and so I just wonder if you can talk about that in the context of, again, the role of executives. And I'm very struck by what Valerie just said—this notion that executives do occupy a place of privilege. How do you use that to create an environment where somebody who's not at your level, somebody, a more junior employee, doesn't feel like I have to change how I look so that I fit into what I think is the stereotypical mould of being a public servant? What can an executive do? What kind of advice would you give them?

[Paule-Anny's window fills the screen.]

PAP: This is an important point, Yazmine, and it goes to the core of really creating an atmosphere, an organization where the other seems himself/herself, sees that they are where they belong and that they will be able to contribute. Directors, DGs, senior executives have amazing influence. And, you know, by modelling certain behaviours, even in your language, you will have an impact. Something very simple: do you take the time to get to know your employees? And then, I know that some of you will say: "You know, Paule-Anny, I have three hundred employees below me."

[Paule-Anny laughs.]

At one point in my career I was impressed by an executive in the department. It was an Assistant Deputy Minister who made a point to gather those small groups regularly. He set out that throughout the year that he would want to touch base with each of these individuals, not necessarily one-on-one, but create those small groups where you can get to know: "Oh, so-and-so from this division, tell me about yourself. You can talk about the work for sure. Let me know what's not working. But I want to know about you." And then, it's really surprising because this Assistant Deputy Minister later on, when he would run into employees in the hallway or in meetings, he would often remember their names and he would remember details and say: "How is your daughter who's studying in accounting? " So, these are things we can do. It shows that we are interested. It shows that work is more than pushing dockets, as Valerie said. It really comprises people who are human beings, who have lived and who have something to contribute. So I want to say treat your employees as one of your greatest assets. And make them feel valued and try to enable them to be authentic, to let them be themselves, and value that. And I know that many of you celebrate the different cultural holidays, that's fine. At a certain time, I had a small reaction to this because I said, well, folklore and food are great, but there's more than that. Get to know individuals on a personal basis, and then you'll see you have gems in your organization. And then you will remember them and you will bring them on board to contribute even more within your organization. I hope this helps and gives you concrete tools.

[The other participants' windows reappear.]

YL: Thank you! Thank you, Paule-Anny. Jackie, I want to pick up on that a little bit because you've talked about, in your comments, that for you the word equity is really important. In your role, running Apex, you're like the Sherpa for the entire executive community. What can an individual executive do to create that culture of equity and diversity and inclusion? Because sometimes it seems... Paule-Anny has talked about getting to know individuals on a more personal basis. But what other ideas would you have for an executive who might feel like: "Oh my goodness, this is big and I don't even know where to start." So what would your advice be to an individual executive saying: "What should I do first?"

JR: Thank you, Yazmine, for that question.

[Jacqueline's window fills the screen.]

It's a great question. And the first thing we have to realize is that organizations don't drive the success. They're not going to achieve this culture of inclusion and diversity. It is actually people that do that. So, you're right. I look at the leaders of the public service as a whole, and I feel that every leader, every executive carries an added responsibility. We have the opportunity and we should take on the accountability to ensuring what Paule-Anny just said: people, your team, feels valued, respected and safe. We've heard this multiple times to the PSCS results. So you're saying, "How do we do this?" And it's really hard because, you know, we all know that saying that it's hard to claim success on something that you can't measure. It's really hard. And this is a challenge. And a recent article in Forbes magazine, it had this title and of course, it caught my attention—it was called "Inclusion is Invisible: How to measure it." Well, of course, I glommed onto that because we've got to figure out, how do we mark our success factors as we go on this journey of being inclusive?

And what they did was they borrowed an example from the health care system and they said they use that to understand how to measure or to quantify inclusion. And the analogy is quite neat because it's one we can all relate to. Give me a second, I'll explain. When we go to the doctor, we don't get a form that says: "Give me on a scale of 1 to 10, how good do you feel?" No, we don't. We actually get a document that has a list of ailments and diseases and they ask you to tick off what do you have. And follow me with this; by us ticking off our afflictions or our illnesses, that's how the doctor gets a sense of how healthy we are by seeing how few negative conditions we have. So let's parlay that into inclusion executives.

Often it is the feeling and examples of exclusion that draws our attention to the absence of inclusion in our environment. That's a different way to look at it. When you're looking at what is causing the exclusion and minimizing those events, you're finding a way to measure something to show progress. But I know you want concrete things on what you can do as an executive, and we can measure that. And I've kind of summarized because, of course, I put some thought to this, like all of your panelists and your Deputy. And I thought, what are some concrete takeaways that you could take as executive, things that you can do to really create that environment of inclusion in your respective organizations and teams. I have 10 things, and I'll go over them quickly. I won't explain them because they're pretty self-explanatory.

But the first thing I want to say about these 10 things is they require no budget and they require no policy or any type of change. They just start with you taking action. Number one, examine your assumptions.

[The other participants' windows reappear. Paule-Anny nods.]

Number two, create a really good habit of asking questions. Three, reduce stressful situations. Four, resolve disagreements and misunderstandings. Five is one I really want you to pay attention to. Five says when you have a strong reaction to someone, ask yourself why. It starts with you, what can you do differently? And when you find whenever somebody walks in, when something happens to you, be introspective and ask yourself why am I reacting this way? Six, listen until all understanding is achieved by all parties. Make sure all voices are heard for seven.

[Paule-Anny nods.]

Eight, value each person's contribution.

[Paule-Anny nods emphatically.]

And my panelists mentioned that already; if you're listening to them, but you're not valuing the contribution, well, you may as well not listen. Number nine is, of course, be consistent so you can achieve sustainable results. Make these your practices. Make these your management practices. And the tenth one, you know where it's coming from, you probably expect it: be courageous. You have to step out of your own comfort zone, your own area of what you're used to, and embrace the differences of your team, not just in the way someone looks or behaves or eats, in the way they think, the way they work, embrace all of that.

As leaders, we really are the linchpin. I do a lot of research on leadership. We really are the linchpin that sets the culture of our organization. And you know what? You executives have the power to make a difference and your power is impactful. And if you just take a handful of those guides that I just gave you, it's going to start to change how you lead. Every one of us has the ability to treat all employees and colleagues with respect, appreciation and kindness. And if we do that, we collectively will be able to raise the culture of our organization to the best-in-breed. These are not things that require policies, folks.

[Paule-Anny nods.]

These are things that require your dedication and commitment to being kind, understanding and open. I hope those are a little helpful, Yazmine, but those are the kind of things that I feel are really important.

YL: I think Paule-Anny wants to speak up.

[Paule-Anny and Jacqueline laugh.]

That was amazing. Go ahead, Paule-Anny.

PAP: You picked up on my cues! So absolutely, thank you, Jackie.

[Paule-Anny's window fills the screen.]

I think it's clear, it's actionable. We could do this without spending money. I want to add a couple of actions because I also had my tips and actions and to-dos. We often hear "apply an inclusive lens to your thinking, your work and your actions." And if you make sure that there are three simple questions that you can ask, and this can be done at any moment through any planning process or in discussions. So, who is not included? Take a look around the table. Take a look at your decision-making processes. What are the missing voices? And I say sometimes to colleagues where I work with or individuals who approach me to get some tips, "you don't know what you don't know." So, you need to bring on board a different perspective. Individuals who will challenge in a good way, that will bring additional value added to your organizations.

We've all been in meetings where there was a presentation or an item for discussion, and poor conversations, no input, and you come out of the meeting, you say, "wow—no sense of where to go next." So you want to avoid that. You want to make sure that you bring that different perspective and that you do have individuals who will challenge where and when needed. So, who's not at the table? And seek to include them, understand why they are not at the table. What could be the exclusion? What's the underlying reason of the inclusion? How come they're not here? Why is my management team very homogenous? What's going on in my staffing processes? I'm going to speak with my managers to understand if we don't have diversity in our recruitment processes. And this is an easy tip also. You launch a process and you look at the makeup of the candidates and no one is identifying... Ask yourself, where's the diversity there and why are they not applying? So, search where they are.

The third question—how can I do things differently to make sure that there is this difference? I'm going to give you a tool that is available online. I'm not taking credit for this, it's the City of Ottawa. It's called "Equity and Inclusion Lens: City of Ottawa." You can Google this. It's a great toolkit, in French, in English, with tools that enable you to ask questions about different aspects of the work. When you're in communications and leading, supervising, doing a policy development—and for each of these 11 dimensions of work, you have 9 to 10 questions that help you think about diversity, inclusion, accessibility—it's very well done. There is a section that talks about Promising Practices. So you can Google this; it's available, it's free, it's online. I guarantee it's really a tool that will give you the lens to think about inclusion in your work, various aspects of work. OK, we'll get back to other tips later on.
[Paule-Anny chuckles. The other participants' videos reappear.]

YL: That's awesome. That's awesome. I'm going to throw out a question. I've got lots. You guys are just like—you're prompting me lots and lots of reflection. Okay, I'm going to frame it this way and please bear with me if I express this badly, Okay? And I'm going to try and combine two questions into one. Look at us, the moderator and our panelists; we are all women of diversity if we want to describe ourselves that way.

[Valerie, Jacqueline, and Paule-Anny smile, nodding.]

I use this analogy sometimes about standard deviation, and I like to describe myself as I am a standard deviant because I fall well outside the norm, I'm way out on the margins. So that's how I refer to myself, just so you guys know. Here we are, the four of us, talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion and why it matters. How do we make this everybody's business?

[Jacqueline and Paule-Anny nod.]

How do we get people who maybe look more like in the middle of that bell curve or come from backgrounds that are more typical in the public service context to take this on? Sometimes I hear from members of our broader community that they feel there's added pressure on them to be the agents of change and to push. How do we make this tent as big and open and inclusive as possible? Maybe somebody could answer, and why does this matter? I'm putting myself now in the mindset of an executive who's like: "My God, I'm overloaded, COVID, telework. We are so busy. I'm overloaded, and in addition, I now have to become an expert on diversity and inclusion." Number one, how do we make this not only the responsibility of people who have been feeling marginalized? And why is it so important in terms of our day-to-day work? So, who would like to start with that one? I'm going to throw it out to all panelists. Who'd like to start?

JR: I'll give it a shot. It's Jacqueline.

[Jacqueline's window fills the screen.]

How do we make this everybody's business? I think that we have to really understand that even though it's important to focus on diverse groups, real inclusion is about everybody. And I think we have to be very careful when, especially, we're a part of one of those groups that are being pointed at, to remember that true inclusion doesn't mean now alienating the rest of it. To get everybody on board, we have to make it so that everybody realizes that everybody wins. It's not just about BIPOC winning or it's not just about persons with disabilities winning, it's not just about Blacks winning. It's about everybody winning. And I think that that's why sometimes I talk about it's easy to segment in a group, but the big picture of real inclusion, if we are honest, is everybody feels valued.

And I think that way we can get that mindset into people that this is not just about a segment of people, it's about all of us. And then maybe their engagement might be different because then they feel what they're working at is for them too, because we're working at something for all of us. I think that's a mindset switch that we need to do. We get really focused on—they told me my mic is making noises on my blouse, so I apologize. I'll hold it.

[Jacqueline holds her earbuds' attached microphone away from her blouse. The scuffling noise stops.]

We get really focused on one particular segment of one group and that's important. We have to do that to move the yardstick, but we can't lose sight of the big picture. It's about all of us, all of us doing better, all of us feeling heard, all of us feeling equal. I think if we can get that mindset, then people won't feel as much pressure of "I'm doing it for them." No, I'm doing it for us. I'm doing it for me. I'm doing it for all of us. I think that's an important transition.
Why should we care? Oh, well, that's such a huge, beautiful question. I could talk hours on it, so I'll only hit one angle. I have tons of notes on why we should care, but I'm going to hit only one section of it to allow my co-panelists a chance, is that, imagine this... Let me sprinkle some fairy dust.

[Jacqueline waves her hand through the air.]

So, imagine this situation. Imagine leading a team that 84 percent of your people feel more motivated. Imagine 83 percent of them say they are more loyal to their team, to you, their leader and to their organization, and 81 percent of them say they will go above and beyond what they ask you. These are the results of a recent study that the UK did on employee engagement, and that was the impact of inclusive leadership. That's why we care. It's about playing our best game together. And honestly, who doesn't want to have that characteristic in their organization? Not by one segment, but a feeling of that by everybody on your team. So that's why we should care. And I mean, there are multiple others, but I'll leave some for my colleagues. And if I need to, I'll loop back.

[The other panelists' windows appear.]

VG: Perhaps I could—

YL: Valerie, you have the floor.

VG: Yes, hello, thank you.

[Valerie's window fills the screen.]

One of the things that I keep thinking about is the sustainability of the public service. We kind of always assume the public service will be there forever and it probably will be there forever. But, you know, if we want to attract younger people and younger generations to really choose and want to invest in a career in the public service, we have to have a culture of inclusivity. The command and control environment that the public service was pretty much built on, that's not going to work anymore. It's not working now, but it's definitely not going to work 20 years from now.

So in order to actually have public servants that are motivated and totally agree, that feel valued, that want to contribute, we have to have a culture of inclusivity; it's not even an option because people will not stay. They're going to go somewhere else. They're going to go where they have a voice. The private sector more and more is investing in employee engagement in order to be competitive. So, investing in the mental wellness of their employees, investing in the diversity of their workplaces—we have to do that in order to be able to sustain the foundation of the public service.

One of the things, though, that has been briefly mentioned, but I think is worth a bit more focus, is the reality of the workload that executives are facing and the 24/7 kind of environment that in a lot of ways has become worse with COVID, not because we're actually managing the pandemic, but because of the virtual environment. Thinking about the notion of inclusion, we also have to be human beings and remind ourselves that we are human beings. And we have to really move away from some of the competitiveness that I think people are feeding by sort of—people feeling like, "Well, I got to be on my machine at, like, 12 o'clock on Saturday. Or I have to be on this call at, like, 8:30 at night on Wednesday, because otherwise they're going to think that I'm not on the ball."

We are disincentivizing inclusivity. We're working against it when we're pushing people to sacrifice their own family time, their own personal health and wellness. So we can't be talking about inclusion and then working people into a significant amount of stress and mental distress. It is unbelievable to me now how there's no respect or very little respect, I feel, for people's personal time. It's almost like I see an executive culture where everybody just thinks it's absolutely fine to schedule a call at 6 o'clock at night. It's not fine to schedule a call at 6 o'clock at night unless it's an emergency!

Again, just think about diversity and an inclusive approach to diversity; people have all sorts of different individual circumstances. So we have to respect that. It's speaking to the physical space issue, Yazmine, that you were talking about, where people didn't have consideration for physical accessibility. Well, what I'm talking about is a bit different. But knowing that we're working in a virtual environment now, we still have to respect the fact that people have personal time and personal space. So that's just something that I wanted to highlight, because I do think it's getting completely out of control. And I think we've got to really find a way to have better discipline, as executives, around that.

[The other participants' windows reappear. Jacqueline and Paule-Anny nod.]

YL: I think that is an amazing point, Valerie, and I'm just thinking about a recent discussion I had with somebody who was organizing a meeting of Deputy Ministers, and it was originally scheduled for 8 o'clock on a Monday morning. And I was in a discussion with this person and I just said, and I was kind of half joking and I said, "I'm really not a morning person and 8 o'clock is really early, especially on a Monday. You know, any chance we can move this?" They did! They did!

[The panelists laugh. Valerie claps her hands.]

They made the meeting at 9:00 am. But I had to ask because as you pointed out, everybody has different personal circumstances.

And some people, they're like really early risers and they're raring to go first thing. It takes me a long time to get ready in the morning. I'm slow. Everything takes longer. So I'm always like I'm always apprehensive when people book early morning meetings, so that was something great that somebody did. And I think what you're raising is the importance of leading by example. That is so, so important that... Sometimes our own behaviour, people will model it. And we're—I'm raising my hand because I'm a guilty party here—I do some caregiving of my mother who is starting her journey with dementia. It means that I have to take chunks of time. So Wednesday afternoons, I spend time with her, which means that I'm actually working late at night on Wednesdays because I have to get caught up on things and I'll be sending emails. And if I were a really smart person, I would be starting each email by saying, "please do not respond right now." Fortunately, my folks know me and they don't. But I should be more explicit and say, "I'm just getting caught up. We can deal with this tomorrow or the next day."

But it's so important to model that behaviour because if you don't set boundaries, then other people don't think that they'll be able to. And I think you need to be open about what your reality is and how you manage. I just had a conversation with somebody who works for me who was complaining that one of their employees was constantly bombarding them with messages on Microsoft Teams, on the chat function of MS Teams. And, like, every 10 minutes it was like this new thing coming. And my response was: "Well, do you have to respond? You know, you also have agency, right? And you can also set boundaries for yourself." And it's important to think about those as teachable moments, because when you do that then you're also showing somebody else how they can set boundaries. Okay, that was—

PAP: If you don't mind, Yazmine, I'm going to jump in—

YL: Yes, go ahead.

PAP: ...on the leaders' role, the critical role that they play in leading, in modelling behaviours.

[Paule-Anny's window fills the screen.]

I think that there is also an important role in the messages that are conveyed. And I say us executives, we have a role in focusing the narrative that is currently played out, particularly with diversity. Jackie mentioned some a little earlier. Currently, we are concentrating on redressing the gaps and inequities in certain spheres of the public service regarding representation. And I hear this: "Paule-Anny, you know, I feel resistance. There are those who feel disenfranchised." And it's like, you know—we often hear the zero-sum game. "If I appoint a woman, well, that's one position less for men. If I appoint an Indigenous employee, well, that's one position less for a white person." So we absolutely have to work to help the narrative to be focusing around merit, and explain to those who feel disenfranchised for whatever reason and work with them to talk about inclusion, to talk about merit and really to help the narrative. So, that's a role that you can play directly in conversation. It's not easy, like Jackie said, but it takes courage. However, I think that if we all work in this way, we can help the narrative and once again help to really bring about a much more predominant culture of inclusion.

[The other participants' windows reappear.]

JR: One little thing, Yazmine. Fantastic, Paule-Anny. You're right. When I said earlier, you know, it's not about favouritism, it's not about tokenism. And I've had some conversations with executives that are from different categories within our BIPOC or within our EE categories that have now been given opportunities. And they're calling because they're feeling that people are thinking they got it not on merit.

[Paule-Anny nods.]

And you are very right and it's very hard. And it's not about: "Oh this was given to this person because they have this disability or because they are differently abled, no. Or because they are Black." They're given it, and as leaders, you have to enforce it in your organization: it's on their skill. We're shining the light, a spotlight on everybody at places that maybe weren't shown before, but we're not doing favours.

[Jacqueline's window fills the screen.]

And as leaders, I think that in terms of fostering that culture of inclusion, you have to make sure that you make that person as well know: "You're getting this because you deserve it. You're getting a seat at this table because you have the ability, you have the education, you have the experience. You earned this spot. You're not getting this because I'm ticking a box." And as leaders, I'm sorry, sometimes my last one was VP of HR. A lot of times we get so caught up in: "Oh, I need to hire another female. Oh, I need to hire another this." And then when that person comes, that behaviour that you had, you don't realize that it transcends into them thinking, Okay... You need to let them know: "You're on this team because you're a valued member and you have the skills that I need." So as leaders, we have that control and it's really important because it's very pervasive and it's something that sometimes we do unconsciously and we need to pay attention to it.

[The other windows reappear.]

YL: That's a super intervention, thank you. This discussion about merit, I find a really interesting one. It's one that I've been thinking about a little bit over the last couple of years. We've put a lot of emphasis on the merit principle and a lot of people, I think, almost use that as an excuse to defend the status quo.

[The panelists nod. Yazmine's window fills the screen.]

And the way I look at it is if you look at our levels of representation, particularly in the senior ranks, then I have to ask the question: "Are we saying then that people who are underrepresented don't have merit?" Because if the merit system is really working, then we would have a fully representative system, because everybody has merit, and people of talent and experience should then naturally find their way through the system. And if they're not, then we have to question—it's not the merit principle, it's the application of it.

It's so intriguing to have the three of you on this panel who come in mid-career, or you didn't come in as a brand-new recruit to the public service in your earliest stage of working. I'd be interested in your thoughts about how we do work descriptions, how we do job posters.

[The other participants' windows reappear.]

And I'd really be interested in your perspectives. How easy was it to come in? How difficult do we make it for people to come in? Paule-Anny, I'm struck by what you said about how people undervalued your experience. So, I want to ask, are there things that we could share with managers who are on this call to say—here's some things that you should maybe want to take a look at to really take a look at—again, are we doing unintended exclusion just by the way we frame some of our materials when we're recruiting or doing any kind of a process? Paule-Anny, would you like to comment?

PAP: Yes, it's super interesting because we can ask ourselves the question also for those who grew up in the public service, because many tried, even at the organizational screening stage.

[Paule-Anny's window fills the screen.]

Our colleague at the Public Service Commission recently released their audit and we can see that. There's a drop rate. There's dropping at some key stages and some groups are affected differently. I was talking to a colleague because I saw that the group of Black people was twice as much affected in exams, in tests... I asked myself, "is it because Black people can't pass exams?"

[She laughs.]

So, my personal experience, I had a similar experience to that. The DG who finally appointed me to EX, I had completed actings, I was an EC-08 for several years. But the DG who appointed me EX-01, it's someone who told him that there was a vacancy and someone said: "Paule-Anny, she's the person you need." He brought me into his organization within six months. He said, "Where were you? I ran a competition. How come you didn't apply?" And I had to tell him, I said, "Well, I tried, but I was screened out of one of your criteria." And I told him which one, he said, "I can't believe this."

[Paule-Anny laughs.]

He said: "You clearly have the experience, the competency." I think we have to make a really serious effort because there are issues with our posters. There are issues with the way we go about the recruitment.

[The other participants' videos appear.]

If we are truly and honestly looking to recruit for competencies, for skills, for talent and that's really what we're looking for to perform a specific job, then let's label it like that and let's stop playing games and putting some criteria that we know speak to—I like to use the word "to the insiders."

[Jacqueline laughs. Valerie and Yazmine nod.]

And, it's too bad because I tell people whom I am mentoring, "if you're applying for a process, I want to see your letter. I want to see your CV because I need to help you get screened in." I shouldn't have to do this. We shouldn't have to do this, right? So, I invited my colleagues to voice their opinions on this, because I find it problematic. The good news is that as executives, we have the power to change things and by doing some soul-searching in our organizations—to have the courage to have that conversation, to work with our colleagues in HR, to really have a serious and honest look at the way we go about conducting those processes. We are touching on a very sensitive issue.

VG: If you don't mind, I've spent a lot of time—I should speak in French a little more. I have spent a lot of time in recent years conducting processes directly that were particularly tailored to trying to recruit external Indigenous talent into the public service.

[Valerie's window fills the screen.]

We also designed a process to create pools within our sectors and we developed a really different approach. Indigenous employees essentially developed the criteria and the poster. The process was open to everyone, but we assessed Indigenous candidates first. We were much more successful in qualifying people in comparison with standard processes that had been conducted previously. But, what I want to mention is that we have to be realistic in terms of the capacity of our managers at all levels to really develop innovative recruitment processes. They don't have time. So, it's really important to have processes that are coordinated among departments with many executives working together. Then, it's very important at the Human Resources level because I still see a lot of conservative approaches on the part of Human Resources teams.

It's not for the specific purpose of criticizing, but we are not necessarily moving ahead very quickly in that area. We also have to have the capacity—I know that people were giving tips without additional resources, but personally, I think we need to invest in additional resources, at least in people, to do a little more work because it takes work and it's not easy for people who are in their roles and who have responsibilities to actually do so. So, I think we need at a given time dedicated efforts to at least initiate new processes, define them and all that, and also seek out external candidates because the public service...

[Paule-Anny nods.]

We do a lot of horizontal staffing. We bring in people we know, we bring in people who are already at level... We're stealing talent all the time.

[Paule-Anny nods, smiling.]

Like, oh my gosh. I see Indigenous executives, they could probably get like seven offers, in like a day.

[The other panelists laugh.]

And that's not how we're going to actually work. You might win out in your department, but the other department's going to lose out. We've got to reach out and recruit differently, have really systematic partnerships with universities and other organizations to be able to do this because people that have tried once and it didn't work out, after going through a 13-month process for external collective staffing and it didn't work out because they were screened out because they didn't have a word or whatever? They're not going to try again. They are done, you know? We have a bit of a bad reputation around our external recruitment processes. We've got to admit that and we've got to work together, but we've got to work in a concerted way because for everybody to do this separately, this doesn't make any sense. And people are not going to be able to do it.

JR: Well, our numbers show it. It shows us the percentage of external people that we bring to the public service is so small.

[Jacqueline's window fills the screen.]

And I'll tell you something, I was 20 years in the private sector, a senior position at Bell Canada, and if I didn't have someone who when I was applying for the public service say: "Hey, you've got to do this," I would never have made it in. I did not understand the secret sauce, and people that are in the private sector do not understand it. I had been through multiple interviews. I thought I knew how to nail an interview, but not in the public service.

So I am happy to say that I know the Commission is doing some work on this. I have been a part of it, as has Paule-Anny. DND launched a pilot project where we totally changed the way we recruited. We made it more on psychological analysis, personality traits, leadership skills, and not on your ability to navigate the public service method of recruiting, because that may work internally—I'm not saying throw out the baby with the bathwater—but it does not work externally and you're absolutely right. We're borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. We're just taking these executives and they don't know what to do because we're not bringing in enough new people from outside the public service. So I believe our practices have to change, and that's what I talk about, that level playing field is about that, too. It's, how do you recruit? We're looking for people now that have the culture that we're looking for, the behaviours that we're looking for.

We've all heard a lot about character-based leadership. That's important. That's what we're looking for in terms of building the leaders of tomorrow. It's not someone who could recite the business plan or the priorities of a department; it's someone who you know has leadership skills, can lead others with empathy, can have all those other good things that we need, and the education to back it up. So, I think it's really important.

[The other participants reappear.]

YL: Those are all great points, and I just want to remind our audience that we're inviting your questions. We've got about 15 minutes left with the panel, and I'd love to get some questions from the audience. I do have one here. And it is an issue that comes up a lot, and especially in the context of external recruitment. What about access to language training?

[The others nod.]

How do we make sure that doesn't become an additional barrier? We've heard that in the context of external recruitment, but we've also heard that definitely in the context of people for whom neither French nor English is their mother tongue. We certainly have heard this from Indigenous colleagues. So can we talk a little bit about that, about language? And is that also a barrier? So who'd like to take that?

VG: Well, maybe I could just start with Indigenous people; it's absolutely a barrier. But you can do non-imperative staffing and I have done non-imperative executive staffing.

[Valerie's window fills the screen.]

Particularly in recent years, I've done several of those. And I think it's hard—because it's hard for the candidates because they start out doing their jobs and then they have to leave their job for a substantive amount of time. And there's a lot of pressure there. I think that an innovative approach would be to recruit external candidates who don't have their official languages, to qualify them partially by saying: "Yes, you really have potential, but you are missing a language" and send them immediately to language training and fill the position temporarily which provides another candidate with a secondment or professional development, knowing that it's going to be for an interim period and really invest in the candidate. After that, they can take on their position. Because I believe that, not necessarily for everyone, but it means that it could really work. We need to create pools of individuals whom we want to recruit with the public service and do this systematically, because it's difficult to do it manager by manager, individual by individual.

I find that, if we did it this way, it would also create a network if they took language training together, at the same time, meet together, discuss issues, create a community like we do for other leadership development programs.

[The other participants' windows reappear.]

We really should think about this because it's very important. Otherwise, they often feel isolated and it's much more difficult for them to succeed. So, we need to create an environment where they will not feel like they will lose one or two years of their career in language training. By saying: "We are going to include other professional development, we will create a network for you, we will do something else at the same time. We will invest in you and after that, you will take on the position and you will succeed."

PAP: Me, quickly, I'm happy that Valerie positions the barrier issue in terms of access to information because we hear some individuals say that the barrier is language itself. I think we have to be careful. We don't want to deprive individuals who have the talent, the competencies—we want to access those individuals, but we know that there is the value of bilingualism in our public service and we should make every effort to provide this access, and appropriately so. I think that Valerie's approach is really an approach that deserves to be explored.

JR: But there's certain changes that we have to do, because language is a huge barrier and you want it not to be a barrier. And for example, we have some tools around—we have some jobs that are labelled English essential, that's how we sometimes bring them in, or French essential. But then if the person gets in that way, it's great. And then they say: "Well, I want to take second language training." and what do we say? "Oh, your job is English essential so you don't get access to second language training." We can change that. That's a silly rule. When I was hired in the public service, I was hired in an English essential job. But before I got hired, I said: "I want access to second language training." And they did it for me. I was fortunate I was in a separate agency. But how do we do that? We bring you in English essential. You put up your hand for French training and we say: "No, you can't do it." So this is a barrier we need to take down right away. This is really important. I just think it's very frustrating when that comes into play.

YL: I think what's encouraging to hear from each of you is that there are ways to do this, and Valerie certainly showed a very promising way. And I think, again, it speaks to a mindset where you have to—we're all super busy and we want to go for the simple fixes. And sometimes we have to force ourselves to look at things a little bit differently in the interest of having better results. So I'm starting to get some really interesting questions from our audience and I'm just going to go through them. There's an interesting question here on what should be the markers to know that we've made progress. The "countables" are important, but the challenge can't just sit with statistical answers. So how will we know that we're actually making progress?

PAP: That is the measure that gets to me.

[Paule-Anny and Yazmine laugh.]

YL: Yes, of course, it would. Speaking as an auditor, she likes to measure things.

PAP: Frankly, I had the privilege of having my career prior to enter public service with regard to results-based management evaluation programs that actually supported the establishment of measures by organizations and senior officials. But the first thing is to define success, right? So we need as a public service, but also within our own organization, to define what success looks like. And you have to do this with your employees.
We talked about inclusion. We shared today, each of us, our vision of what it is. But does this resonate with your employees? They can tell you, also, how they feel included, how they feel excluded. And there are some good indicators that we can use. There are models that we are currently developing at the Treasury Board's Centre for Diversity and Inclusion. I'm putting in a plug here. We're working on a maturity model, but you don't have to wait for this. You can look at your PSCS key indicators. Of course, you look at the level of harassment, discrimination—this year there was a question about racism. The discussion needs to occur within your organization and agree on not, you know, 20 indicators, but look at five more meaningful ones that you want to work on within your organization that are measurable. And let's take stock regularly about how we're doing. Let's talk about what's being replaced.

[The other participants' windows reappear.]

I would also like to make a last pitch for accountability. We have a collective responsibility, but as executives, we also have individual accountability. Individual accountability for what we are responsible to put in place. So it's up to us to do that, and also as a management team to agree that we will be accountable for making progress, for pushing for results and to have transparency and discuss this with our employees. If we are failing, we're not making progress. Why? How can we make it better? Put the money, also, where it's needed, and the resources.

YL: That's super, Paule-Anny. I have another question here that I'd love to share with the panelists. "I'm mentoring an immigrant from the Caribbean...

[Jacqueline grins.]

...with a Master's in economics from a European University and experience within a foreign public service. What would you recommend if she wants to work for the Government of Canada?" She doesn't feel like she has 13 months to wait, as described by our typical processes. So are there recruitment opportunities for somebody like that? Who'd like to take that one?

JR: I mean, I could try. Caribbean, Jamaica.

[Jacqueline raises her hand. Her window fills the screen.]

Here we go. It's sad that that's a question, right? That's what I have to say first. It's sad that someone that's got the education, a Master's in economics, that would probably be a great addition to the public service, is not sure how to even navigate getting in. So it's going to almost go back to what I said before, we've got to change it. Why is it hard for someone like that to apply for the public service? I almost didn't apply for the public service because I thought: "Oh my gosh, I hear it takes forever." And I ended up doing it and it worked. But that's the problem there. That person should be applying for the public service. That's what we want in the public service. That's the diversity you want to enter the public service.

The problem is, why does that person already feel scared of the process? Why does the person, the public servant that they're talking to, already feel worried about telling them, "Okay, you're going to have to do this and it might take, you know, 8 to 12 months or 12 to 15 months before you actually get through." So I think the answer is you want to encourage them to do it, and the other one is on the inside. We need to figure out how do we make this process much more tenable, much more realistic.

When I joined the public service, it took months and months and months before they finally came back and said: "Oh, yeah, yeah, we're going to take you." I was working; I had another job. So it was fine. But I mean, that's not how you attract the best out there, right? Because they kind of just put it in. Oftentimes—I was the head of HR at CBSA before I went to Apex, and oftentimes when we went back to a candidate, they were gone. By the time we got around to them, they found another job and we lost someone who was excellent. So the answer is: "Yeah, we want that person." And let's look in the public service as leaders and how are we recruiting? How can we get that in faster? How can we expedite processes? And I've seen HR do processes quickly and I've seen them do it differently. Let's just embrace that. Merit is always there, but we don't have to do it the long way. So I think we should encourage them and try to find a way to get them in.

[The other participants' windows appear.]

YL: That's super. Thank you, Jackie. I'm conscious of the clock ticking, and I just wondered if maybe we could do just one round of wrap-up comments from our amazing, beautiful panel and ask you, what's one thing, one tip that you would give to the executives on this call? You've had lots of comments, and interesting ones. But if there was one thing that you would really like to leave with the people on this call, what would that be? Valerie, why don't I start with you?

VG: I would just encourage everybody to be encouraged, to be hopeful, to have a positive outlook.

[Valerie's video fills the screen.]

You know, I've seen a tremendous amount of change, despite the fact that as I started out I had a good experience coming in and a welcoming one. I also witnessed a lot of other things, even if they weren't directed at me. I've seen a tremendous amount of change, even just the last three years. The courageous conversations that have been happening in the public service that are really blowing my mind and at all levels, not, of course, just at the executive level or the Deputy level. We're having employee conversations about racism and discrimination. It's not just a question in the survey. It's not just something for Labour Relations anymore. This is something that people are taking broad interest in and responsibility for. So, let's be hopeful. And also, you don't have to take everything on your shoulders! You don't!

[The other participants' windows appear. They all chuckle.]

You work in a public service where we have thousands of executives. We're not running a restaurant with our name on the board there. When you're running a restaurant and your name's on that board, you don't have a lot of options. This is not the case. We work in a large system. So work with your colleagues, get a buddy system going, make it happen, make it fun.

JR: That was great. I think you've said everything that was on my mind. That's fantastic. I think I would say be kind and be fair.

[Jacqueline's window fills the screen.]

Be kind to yourself in terms of you can't do everything, just as my colleague, Valerie, just said. You can't do everything. So be kind, but do your best. Do your absolute best, but be kind to yourself and be fair to everyone. Really look at—how am I managing my team? Am I being fair? And you know what? That's being a true and honest, empathetic, caring leader. And that's what people are looking for. And if you do that, you'd be amazed. All these barriers of exclusion will drift away, because if you're being fair, people can look and say: "Oh, my God, Jacqueline is this, this, this, but, my God, she's fair." You know? That's what you want. Then people don't feel like: "Okay, well, they treat this group this way and that group this way." Be a fair leader. Be direct, honest, kind and fair with your team and be consistent.

[The other windows reappear.]

You'll gain their respect and also that will be the beginning of an inclusive culture in your team because people will feel that fairness prevails and not anything else.

PAP: I will echo some of the comments and I will add I know some of you have tried and have been hurt because there was faux pas, and you may have been called on some of the language that you used. I want to encourage you. If it comes from a good place and you're being honest and genuine, continue, but seek the help of your colleagues, seek the help of employees, also, who can help you walk the journey because we're all in this together. But I'm encouraging you because yes, I know that many of you have initiated courageous conversation and we must continue because we are not finished.

[Paule-Anny smiles. The other participants' windows reappear.]

It's really now that we need to pursue even further. So keep at it and let's have another session at another time because I know there are other questions.

JR: If I could throw out one last thing, Yazmine.

YL: Go ahead, Jackie.

JR: One last thing. Individual power is great, and as leaders, I have so much respect for the leaders of the public service.

[Jacqueline's window fills the screen.]

And you have the ability to do so much, but you have the ability to give the power of opportunity to everyone. So just really embrace that and realize that opportunity should be open for all. If you do that, you're going to really realize how much joy, happiness and contentment will come in your team. Just realize the power of an opportunity for all is extremely powerful and so valuable, and it will make you feel better and it'll make your team flourish and go supernova with achievements.

[The other participants reappear. They all smile.]

YL: Well, I have nothing to add. I'm overwhelmed. I'm inspired. I feel so motivated as a result of this discussion. I'm touched to the heart by the candour, the wisdom of the women on this panel, the totality of your lived experiences and what you are sharing with the executives on this call. There is such a richness to this. I hope I speak for all the participants when I say thank you. This has been a master class in the different dimensions of building this inclusive public service that we all are striving to create. You've given some practical tips. You've demystified. You've encouraged us. You've given us hope. And what better way to close out a week than on that message of hope? And so, again, from the bottom of my heart to these amazing, wonderful women on this panel: thank you, thank you, thank you so very much. Thank you to the panelists. Thank you to the School for organizing these sessions. And I look forward to the continued conversation.

[A URL pops up in the bottom left corner of the screen:]

And remember, you do have the power. You have a tremendous opportunity to shape this public service, and go do it! There's no time like now. Thank you everyone.

JR: Thanks, Deputy.

[The participants all wave, smiling. The Zoom call fades out. The animated white Canada School of Public Service logo appears on a purple background. Pages turn, closing it like a book. A maple leaf appears in the middle of the book that also resembles a flag, with curvy lines beneath.  The government of Canada logo appears: the word "Canada" with a small Canadian flag waving over the final "a." The screen fades to black.]

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