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Canadian public agencies falling short in monitoring racial equity: Auditor General

by HR Law Canada

A report tabled in the House of Commons by Auditor General Karen Hogan reveals that six major Canadian organizations have established action plans for equity, diversity, and inclusion, but have failed to measure or comprehensively report on the progress for their racialized employees.

The audit scrutinized the Canada Border Services Agency, Correctional Service Canada, the Department of Justice Canada, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, Public Safety Canada, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. While these organizations have initiated plans to address workplace disparities, the lack of quantifiable outcomes raises questions about the efficacy of these efforts.

Hogan’s audit suggests that the organizations are not leveraging available data sufficiently to understand the challenges faced by racialized staff members. For instance, none of the agencies have examined the distribution of performance assessment ratings specifically for racialized employees, and only a few have looked at promotion rates. The report states that such omissions mean both individual organizations and potentially the public service sector at large are “missing opportunities to identify and implement improvements.”

Further, the report revealed inconsistencies in performance agreements meant to set expectations for leadership roles. While 79% of performance agreements for non-executive managers at the Canada Border Services Agency included objectives related to equity, diversity, and inclusion, that figure dropped to between 39% and 57% at four other organizations.

Racialized employees who volunteered for interviews as part of the audit process expressed skepticism about the commitment to meaningful change within these organizations. They noted a perceived lack of genuine intent behind the equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives.

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

The report calls for an actionable commitment from these organizations, emphasizing the importance of using data analytics to drive change and recommending the implementation of more concrete metrics for assessment.

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