Google Is Trying Too Hard (or Not Hard Enough) to Diversify – The New York Times

Interesting internal debates and struggles within Google (and likely not unique to Google):

In 2014, Google became one of the first technology companies to release a race and gender breakdown of its work force. It revealed — to no one’s surprise — that its staff was largely white or Asian and decidedly male.

The company explained that it disclosed the figures, in part, because it wanted to be held accountable publicly for not looking “the way we wanted to.

Since then, Google has made modest progress in its plan to create a more diverse work force, with the percentage of women at the company ticking up a bit. But a spate of recent incidents and lawsuits highlight the challenges the company has faced as it has been dragged into a national discussion regarding politics, race and gender in the workplace.

Google is being sued by former employees for going too far with its diversity effort. It is also being sued for not going far enough.

“My impression is that Google is not sure what to do,” said Michelle Miller, a co-executive director at, a workers’ rights organization that has been working with some Google employees. “It prevents the ability of a company to function when one group of workers is obstinately focused on defeating their co-workers with whatever it takes.”

The division within Google spilled into the open last year when James Damore, a software engineer, wrote a memo critical of its diversity programs. He argued that biological differences and not a lack of opportunity explained the shortage of women in leadership and technical positions.

Google fired Mr. Damore. He filed a lawsuit in January with another former employee, claiming that the company discriminates against white men with conservative views. In a separate lawsuit, a former recruiter for YouTube sued Google because, he said, he was fired for resisting a mandate to hire only diverse — female or black and Latino — candidates.

Google’s handling of the issue was also upsetting to Mr. Damore’s critics. In another lawsuit filed last month, a former Google employee said he was fired because he was too outspoken in advocating diversity and for spending too much time on “social activism.”

Inside Google, vocal diversity proponents say they are the targets of a small group of employees who are sympathetic to Mr. Damore. In some cases, screenshots of comments made on an internal social network were leaked to online forums frequented by right-wing groups, which searched for and published personal information like home addresses and phone numbers of the Google employees, they said.

In 2015, Google started an internal program called Respect@, which includes a way for employees to anonymously report complaints of inappropriate behavior by co-workers. Some diversity supporters say other employees are taking advantage of this program to accuse them of harassment for out-of-context statements.

“Some people feel threatened by movements that promote diversity and inclusion. They think it means people are going to come for their jobs,” said Liz Fong-Jones, a Google engineer who is a vocal supporter of diversity.

Many big tech companies are struggling with the challenge of creating a more diverse work force. In 2015, Facebook adopted the so-called Rooney Rule. Originally used by the National Football League to prod teams to consider coaching prospects who are black, the rule requires managers to interview candidates from underrepresented backgrounds for open positions. But last year, Facebook’s female engineers said that gender bias was still a problem and that their work received more scrutiny than men’s work.

Even executives tasked with promoting diversity have had difficulties. In October, Denise Young Smith, who was Apple’s vice president of inclusion and diversity, came under fire when she said that there was diversity even among 12 white, blue-eyed, blond men because they had different backgrounds and experiences. She later apologized, saying she did not intend to play down the importance of a non-homogenous work force. She left Apple in December.

The tension is elevated at Google, at least in part, by its workplace culture. Google has encouraged employees to express themselves and challenge one another. It provides many communication systems for people to discuss work and nonwork related issues. Even topics considered out of bounds at other workplaces — like sharp criticism of its own products — are discussed openly and celebrated.

In January, on one of Google’s 90,000 “groups” — internal email lists around a discussion topic — an employee urged colleagues to donate money to help pay Mr. Damore’s legal fees from his lawsuit against Google to promote “viewpoint diversity,” according to a person who saw the posting but is not permitted to share the information publicly.

Last month, Tim Chevalier, who had worked at Google as an engineer until November, sued for wrongful termination, claiming that he was fired “because of his political statements in opposition to the discrimination, harassment and white supremacy he saw being expressed on Google’s internal messaging systems.” He said one employee had suggested that there was a shortage of black and Latino employees at Google because they were “not as good.”

Mr. Chevalier said he had been fired shortly after saying that Republicans were “welcome to leave” if they did not feel comfortable with Google’s policies. He said he had meant that being a Republican did not exempt Google employees from following the company’s code of conduct.

A Google spokeswoman said in a statement that the company encouraged lively debate. But there are limits.

“Creating a more diverse workplace is a big challenge and a priority we’ve been working to address. Some people won’t agree with our approach, and they’re free to express their disagreement,” said the spokeswoman, Gina Scigliano. “But some conduct and discussion in the workplace crosses a line, and we don’t tolerate it. We enforce strong policies, and work with affected employees, to ensure everyone can do their work free of harassment, discrimination and bullying.”

In the past, discussions about diversity in Google’s online chat groups would encounter skeptical but subtle comments or questions. The debate turned openly antagonistic after Mr. Damore’s memo, which was titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.”

“The James Damore thing brought everything to a head,” said Vicki Holland, a linguist who has worked at Google for seven years. “It brought everything to the surface where everyone could see it.”

Mr. Damore said he began to question Google’s diversity policies at a weekly company meeting last March. At the meeting, Ruth Porat, the chief financial officer of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, and Eileen Naughton, Google’s vice president of people operations, “pointed out and shamed” departments in which women accounted for less than half the staff, according to Mr. Damore’s lawsuit.

The two female executives — who are among the company’s highest-ranking women — said Google’s “racial and gender preferences were not up for debate,” according to the lawsuit. Mr. Damore subsequently attended a “Diversity and Inclusion Summit,” where it reinforced his view that Google was “elevating political correctness over merit” with its diversity measures.

Mr. Damore said he had written his memo afterward in response.

Ms. Scigliano, the Google spokeswoman, said the company looked forward to fighting Mr. Damore’s lawsuit in court. Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, said in an August blog post that he had fired Mr. Damore because his memo advanced “harmful gender stereotypes” but that “much of the memo is fair to debate.”

Some employees said they were abstaining from internal debate on sensitive issues because they worried that their comments might be misconstrued or used against them. Like the broader internet, the conversations tend to be dominated by the loudest voices, they said.

Google’s diversity advocates said they would like to see more moderation on internal forums with officials stepping in to defuse tensions before conversations get out of hand. Ms. Miller, the co-director, said Google employees had expressed concern about how this would affect an internal culture rooted in transparency and free expression.

“What’s on everyone’s mind is: Has the culture been inextricably damaged by this environment?” she said.

via Google Is Trying Too Hard (or Not Hard Enough) to Diversify – The New York Times


Women Of Color Are Severely Underrepresented In Newsrooms, Study Says

Long overdue for a comparable study in Canada:

People of color make nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population, and women make up more than half. But you couldn’t guess that by looking at American journalists, according to a new report by the Women’s Media Center.

Women of color represent just 7.95 percent of U.S. print newsroom staff, 6.2 percent of local radio staff and 12.6 percent of local TV news staff, according to this year’s Status of Women in the U.S. Media study, the organization’s annual audit of diverse media voices.

“Women are just 32 percent of newsrooms, but the percentage of women of color is even more dire,” Cristal Williams Chancellor, director of communications at the Women’s Media Center, told NPR. “We wanted this year’s report to take a closer look at that segment.”

The report analyzed news organizations’ responses to “professional association queries” and included dozens of interviews with female journalists of color who shared their obstacles and triumphs.

Along with American newsrooms’ low representations of female journalists of color, the report also found that compared with in previous years, newspapers’ count of minority female employees stagnated or fell and radio hired fewer minority women.

Williams Chancellor said these findings weren’t shocking, given the enormous challenges that women of color continue to face in American newsrooms. Especially troublesome, she said, are the media’s methods of recruiting, hiring and promotion. “Part of the challenges come from the plagues that have been part of society for decades, such as racism and sexism, and the old boy’s network,” she told NPR.

Amanda Terkel, Washington bureau chief at the Huffington Post, discussed the nuances of landing a prestigious job in journalism. “So much of hiring in journalism is poaching from other news outlets, which is often a great way to get talent. But when you do that, you’re often dipping from the same pool of people rather than bringing in new voices,” she said in the report.

The Women’s Media Center recommends that media organizations conduct an audit of their employees, decision-makers and candidates for promotion and that they “staff with intention.” The organization also recommended that outlets diversify their news sources.

NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson was featured in the report and recalled the difficulties she faced as a woman of color during the beginning of her 30-year career as an international reporter. ” ‘We want to hire this woman with this foreign-sounding name? How will that work?’ ” she remembers hearing. “Even sources seemed hesitant to call me back, at times. Could they pronounce my name? ‘Are you Asian, Middle Eastern? What exactly?’ ”

NPR’s 377-person news staff is 75.1 percent white, 8.8 percent black, 7.7 percent Asian, 6.1 percent Latino, 2.1 percent multiracial and 0.3 percent American Indian, according to the company’s latest report on the racial, ethnic and gender diversity of its newsroom. NPR Ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen called the numbers a “disappointing showing.” The newsroom is 56.2 percent female — the highest number in five years.

Last year’s Status of Women in the U.S. Media noted that “white men were 71 percent of NPR’s regular commentators in 2015. By comparison, in 2003, the rate was 60 percent.” NPR uses the term commentator for its opinion contributors.

The Women’s Media Center hopes that reporting on stagnating hires of female journalists of color will serve as a “wake-up call” to the media and its consumers. Featuring “diverse voices means that we have a more credible media, and a more democratic society,” said Williams Chancellor. “We need a media that’s more representative and inclusive, and looks like America.”

New ’pay transparency’ bill from Ontario government aims to close gender wage gap

Always good to have more and better data. However, hard to understand the need in the Ontario public service given salary scales already in place and wonder whether existing mechanisms like the Census are being used and analyzed as effectively as possible to identify more precisely the gaps before adding yet another reporting requirement:

Ontario plans to introduce legislation Tuesday that aims to close the wage gap between women and men in the province.

If passed, the “pay transparency” bill would require all publicly advertised job postings to include a salary rate or range, bar employers from asking about past compensation and prohibit reprisal against employees who do discuss or disclose compensation.

It would also create a framework that would require large employers to track and report compensation gaps based on gender and other diversity characteristics, and disclose the information to the province.

The pay transparency measures will begin with the Ontario public service before applying to employers with more than 500 employees. It will later extend to those with more than 250 workers.

The government says it will spend up to $50 million over the next three years on the initiative.

Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne is expected to announce the legislation — called Then Now Next: Ontario’s Strategy for Women’s Economic Empowerment — during a Women’s Empowerment Summit at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.

“We know that too many women still face systemic barriers to economic advancement,” Wynne said in a statement. “It’s time for change.”

According to the province, the gender wage gap has remained stagnant over the past 10 years, with women earning approximately 30 per cent less than men.

The government said it looked to other jurisdictions to create the basis of its legislation, including existing laws in Germany, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Wynne has made the themes of fairness and opportunity key planks of her bid for re-election this spring, pitching policies like the province’s increase to minimum wage and expansion of drug coverage for people aged 25 and under as part of those efforts.

UBC study finds more diversity needed in medical school textbooks

Good analysis. In high school, a group of us analyzed images in science texts where the photos were almost uniformly white men (I suspect today’s texts are better):

UBC researchers studying how race and skin tone are depicted in medical textbooks have found a startling lack of diversity.

And, their new study argues, that could be contributing to racial bias in treatment.

The study by UBC and the University of Toronto, published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, found dark skin tones are underrepresented in a number of chapters , including those dealing with skin cancer.

UBC lead author Patricia Louie, who is now a PhD student in sociology at U of T, says the lack of diversity in medical textbooks is a serious problem.

“Proportional to the population, race is represented fairly accurately, but this diversity is undermined by the fact that the images mostly depict light skin tones,” she said.

For the study, researchers analyzed the race and skin tone of more than 4,000 human images in four medical textbooks: Atlas of Human Anatomy, Bates’ Guide to Physical Examination & History Taking, Clinically Oriented Anatomy and Gray’s Anatomy for Students.

In an interview from Toronto, Louie said they used the textbooks from the 2015 and 2016 reading list for medical students at North American universities. But the textbooks are also widely used around the world.

The study found that only one per cent of the photos in Atlas and Clinically featured dark skin, compared to about eight per cent in Bates’ Guide and about five per cent in Gray’s Anatomy.

More than 70 per cent of the individuals depicted in Clinically and 88 per cent in Gray’s had light skin tones, while Atlas featured almost no skin tone diversity.

“It seems that skin tone isn’t something they are paying attention to. The books include racial diversity but not skin tone diversity, and skin tone is important because it is central to how race is perceived,” said Louie.

Patricia Louie is the lead author of a new study done by researchers at UBC and the University of Toronto that found a startling lack of diversity in skin tone in medical textbooks used by universities.  UBC HANDOUT / PNG
The researchers argue that rates of mortality for some cancers are higher on average for black people, often due to late diagnosis. With skin cancer, the researchers say physicians need to look for melanomas on nails, hands and feet, but they found no images in the textbooks to show what melanoma would look like on different skin colours.

Louie said they also looked at the research for six commonly diagnosed cancers, and another example was that of the images used for breast cancer.

In all the textbooks, they only found two images of black women, and the rest were images of light-skinned women. She said this is alarming because research shows that black women are more likely to die from breast cancer.

Also, there was no representation of Asian, Latino or aboriginal skin tone in any of the books, Louie added.

“The heart of this study is that textbooks may influence how doctors think about patients,” she said. “We think that this underrepresentation may be one way that bias enters medical care. I just think it’s not on their radar.”

UBC sociology professor and study co-author Rima Wilkes said, in a UBC news release, that the findings highlight a need to show greater diversity of skin tones in teaching tools used by medical schools.

via UBC study finds more diversity needed in medical school textbooks | Vancouver Sun

Hollywood Diversity Study Finds ‘Mixed Bag’ When It Comes To Representation

The latest report:

The global box office success of Black Panther is no surprise to UCLA sociologist Darnell Hunt. His annual report on Hollywood diversity argues that movies and TV shows with diverse casts and creators pay off for the industry’s bottom line.

Hunt says Black Panther, for example, “smashed all of the Hollywood myths that you can’t have a black lead, that you can’t have a predominantly black cast and [have] the film do well. It’s an example of what can be done if the industry is true to the nature of the market. But it’s too early to tell if Black Panther will change business practices or it’s an outlier. We argue it demonstrates what’s possible beyond standard Hollywood practices.”

The fifth annual diversity report is subtitled, “Five Years of Progress and Missed Opportunities,” suggesting that America’s increasingly diverse audience prefers diverse film and television content. The study reports that people of color bought the majority of movie tickets for the five of the top 10 films in 2016, and television shows with diverse casts did well in both ratings and social media.

Hunt’s team crunched the numbers for Hollywood’s top 200 films and 100 TV shows from 2015 to 2016. What they found, according to Hunt, was a “mixed bag” that over time shows a pattern: “Two steps ahead, one step back. But at the end of five years, we see there’s not much progress.”

The report states that people of color make up nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population, yet they remain underrepresented on every front on all platforms, including lead roles, writers, directors and showrunners. It finds the same for the talent agents who serve as important industry gatekeepers.

The report also shows that despite making up more than half the population, women remain underrepresented. They gained some jobs in film and TV, but as film directors, they were outnumbered seven to one.

Hunt says there are a few bright spots in television: Broadcast TV and children’s series are increasingly diverse and do well in the ratings. “Most babies born in America today are not white,” Hunt notes, “so if you look at children’s programming, it’s unmistakable that you must have diversity, otherwise the show fails.”

John Ivison: Senate amendments to gender diversity bill set to test Trudeau’s feminist principles

Find Ivison overly alarmist here. Requiring companies to have diversity plans but allowing them to set their own targets, with annual reporting, is a reasonable balance between doing virtually nothing and moving the yardstick.

There are likely some changes that may be needed (e.g., size of companies that are covered).

Bu is meritocracy really at risk as Ivison argues? Seem to recall same argument being used each time organizations want to increase diversity:

Are there any limits to how far Justin Trudeau will go to foster diversity and inclusion? We may be about to find out.

While he was in Davos, the prime minister made a big deal about the representation of women on corporate boards.

“Companies should have a formal policy on gender diversity and make the recruitment of women candidates a priority,” he said in his speech to the World Economic Forum.

To this end, the Liberal government has introduced a bill (C-25) to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act, which (among other things) requires companies to place their diversity policy before their shareholders, and if they fail to do so, to explain why (the widely adopted “comply or explain” approach).

Even that level of intervention has some free marketers wondering what business it is of the government to interfere in the running of private corporations.

But the current proposal is tame compared to amendments being proposed by a group of influential senators that will have many executives choking on their Porterhouse steak.

The six senators — Serge Joyal, Frances Lankin, Paul Massicotte, Lucie Moncion, Ratna Omidvar and André Pratte — have written to their colleagues saying they believe the current bill “lacks teeth.”

They would like to add amendments that would force the 270,000 companies incorporated under the CBCA to adopt diversity policies that set numerical goals and timetables on female, indigenous, disabled and visible minority board representation. Companies would have to report their progress not just to their shareholders but, “for the purposes of monitoring,” to the government. Ministers would be required to prepare and publish a report on the data – a clear indication that further corrective action could one day be taken.

“To be clear: our amendment would not set quotas,” the senators say.

Nonetheless, quotas would be set, even if, at this stage, by the companies themselves.

The senators are now rallying their colleagues and if they have the votes, bill C-25 will be sent back to the House of Commons. One source said there appears to be a critical mass of senators in favour of the amendments, which will likely be introduced next week.

At that point, Trudeau will have a decision to make. While the government has not looked kindly on Senate amendments, Trudeau charged senators to use their independent judgment to improve government legislation. He is unlikely to want to shirk what he sees as his moral duty to promote diversity and inclusion.

Carol Hansell, senior partner at the Toronto law firm Hansell LLP, is critical of the bill in its existing form for a number of reasons, principally because it will force companies to hold annual elections of individual directors — the concept of majority voting. She said she believes governance should flow from securities regulation, not corporate statute, which she deems too rigid to respond to changing circumstances.

Hansell thinks the same is true of the diversity issue and that many people would find the imposition of government oversight “objectionable.”

“I think everyone is uncomfortable with quotas. It’s too blunt a tool,” she said.

Even Trudeau shied away from anything that resembled a quota in the legislation. When Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains introduced the bill, he said it would “contribute to an inclusive economic growth agenda” but would not unduly burden business.

The bill was deemed sufficiently benign by the Conservatives that they supported it – pointing out much of it was based on their economic action plan.

The “comply or explain” model has already been adopted by the Canadian Securities Administrators, covering most of Canada’s publicly traded companies.

The dissenting senators point out the results have been unspectacular over the past few years — 14 per cent of board seats are now occupied by women, up from 11 per cent in 2015.

Only 1.1 per cent of board members are Indigenous, 3.2 per cent have disabilities and 4.3 per cent belong to visible minorities.

As a share of the population, all four groups are under-represented (women and girls make up 50.4 per cent of the Canadian population; three per cent are Indigenous; 19.9 per cent are visible minorities and 13.7 per cent report some kind of disability).

Smart companies are moving toward board representation that more accurately reflects their shareholders and customers.

But we are veering into dangerous territory when we reject the notion of meritocracy as a mechanism that merely re-inforces male privilege.

Change is happening before our eyes, even if it is not as rapid as some might like.

But it is simply not the role of government to dictate who should be running the nation’s businesses.

Source: John Ivison: Senate amendments to gender diversity bill set to test Trudeau’s feminist principles

Le Conseil des arts du Canada partage plus d’argent, selon des critères d’inclusion

More implementation of the diversity and inclusion agenda:

Inclusion de la relève, des arts autochtones et de la diversité. Augmentation générale des « subventions de base » — celles qui assurent, pour un cycle de quatre ans, le fonctionnement des compagnies artistiques. Le Conseil des arts du Canada (CAC) passe aux actes : ses nouvelles valeurs se reflètent dans l’attribution de ses subventions. En dévoilant les premiers bénéficiaires d’une subvention de base depuis qu’il a adopté, en 2015, son nouveau modèle, le CAC incarne sa nouvelle manière, et affirme son désir de moduler le paysage artistique.

Les changements sont nombreux dans la liste des « Bénéficiaires d’une subvention de base », dont Le Devoir a obtenu copie. À travers le pays, 1154 organismes ont reçu une subvention de base, ventilant quelque 117 millions en 2017-2018, comparativement à 92 millions en 2016-2017. Cent dix organismes reçoivent cette subvention pour première fois — soit 10 % des organismes — et accèdent ainsi à une possible pérennité. Environ trois organismes sur cinq voient leurs subventions augmenter pour ce cycle. Les arts autochtones, des artistes de la diversité, des sourds et handicapés, ou des communautés des langues officielles en situation de minorité sont fort encouragés. Quelque 62 % des organismes axés sur ces pratiques ont reçu des subventions à la hausse ; 24 nouveaux organismes en reçoivent pour la première fois.

Le CAC « vient d’attribuer à peu près 60 % de l’argent frais aux organismes », explique Simon Brault, directeur. « En ce moment, il reste encore 57 millions à dépenser d’ici le 31 mars. Ça va avoir beaucoup d’effets. Dans les prochaines semaines vont sortir les résultats par projet — par exemple, ceux du Fonds numérique, très importants sur le plan des investissements. » C’est donc seulement l’automne prochain, après une année entière, qu’un premier bilan pourra se faire de manière éclairée.

« Les compagnies les plus augmentées sont en général les plus pointues dans leur discipline », estime M. Brault, citant la compagnie Marie Chouinard et le Centre canadien d’architecture. « On voit apparaître de nouvelles disciplines : le cirque contemporain, avec le Cirque Éloize, qui entre pour la première fois au fonctionnement, ou des compagnies spécialisées en arts et handicap », telles Corpuscule Danse et Des pieds et des mains. Art Souterrain, qui propose des expositions temporaires en des lieux inusités, comme le métro, est aussi un des nouveaux financés. « De nouvelles pratiques sont soutenues. On fait des choses surprenantes ! » se réjouit le directeur. « Il y a une capacité de renouvellement importante. J’ai hâte de voir ce que va produire ce signal dans le soutien des autres conseils des arts, ce qu’ils vont donner ou pas à ces compagnies, au Québec et à Montréal. Le CAC a eu la chance de vraiment aligner ses investissements avec les principes annoncés. C’est rare qu’un conseil des arts qui reçoit de l’argent frais ces temps-ci, peu importe où dans le monde, décide de le distribuer autrement que de façon égale à tout le monde. Nous, on a choisi une voie différente. »

Pics et plateaux

David Lavoie, coprésident du Conseil québécois du théâtre, a salué « l’avancée des investissements : il y a dix ans, on ne l’imaginait même plus. Oui, il y a des attentes importantes des milieux artistiques, nourries par les crises de la succession, par la pression sur la nécessaire inclusion de la diversité et de la réalité autochtone. Il reste des investissements à venir. Il y a des gagnants ; présentement, on ne semble pas voir grand perdants, mais je pense qu’il est trop tôt pour faire un bilan. Il peut y avoir rééquilibrage des forces ».

Quelque 34 % des organismes n’ont pas reçu d’augmentation. En théâtre, l’Espace Go et le Nouveau Théâtre Expérimental sont de ceux dont les sous stagnent. Isabelle Gingras, directrice administrative de ce dernier, ne se l’explique pas. « On est extrêmement déçu. On revendique la création, la recherche, et ça veut dire parfois que les résultats ne sont pas artistiquement parfaits. Peut-être. Mais vraiment, je ne sais pas pourquoi on n’est pas augmenté. »

À l’inverse, le Théâtre de Quat’Sous voit sa subvention de base augmenter de plus de 100 000 $ par an. « Il y avait dans les critères le souci de représenter davantage la mosaïque culturelle de notre société », note Olivier Kemeid, directeur artistique, parlant de l’inclusion de la diversité. « Dans notre cas, ça n’a pas demandé d’effort particulier, c’est au coeur de notre démarche. Comme rayonner dans la cité, prendre des risques. Alors, on est choyé d’avoir un montant semblable pour les trois prochaines années. »

Au Regroupement québécois de la danse, on demandait plus de temps d’analyse avant de commenter. Les premiers calculs effectués laissent entendre, pour la danse, une augmentation en 2017-2018 de 22 % du financement et de 18 % du nombre d’organismes admis, a avancé Virginie Desloges, responsable des finances.

Alors que Québec attend la version définitive de sa nouvelle politique culturelle, son plan d’action et l’argent qui devrait permettre d’en appliquer les mesures, certains s’inquiètent que la province ne s’appuie trop sur l’investissement supplémentaire du fédéral en arts. « Si le Québec sait si bien tirer son épingle du jeu, c’est aussi parce que c’est la province qui investit le plus en arts, répond M. Brault. Quand je parle avec les ministres de la Culture, je rappelle que si le Québec fléchit dans son investissement, il n’ira pas ensuite chercher la même part au CAC, plus haute que la proportion de sa population. J’espère l’effet contraire : que nos investissements incitent le Québec à maintenir ses choix, et à continuer à investir dans les arts, au lieu de se retirer pour un même montant. »

via Le Conseil des arts du Canada partage plus d’argent, selon des critères d’inclusion | Le Devoir

Senate proposal would force companies to set diversity targets for board of directors

Clear from current data that a nudge needed, with annual reporting to provide accountability:

In an effort to bolster the number of women, Indigenous people and racial minorities sitting on corporate boards, a group of senators is poised to amend government legislation that would force companies to set internal diversity targets.

Independent Ontario Sen. Ratna Omidvar, one of six members of the Red Chamber backing the amendment, said the Liberal government’s current approach in Bill C-25, which would simply encourage companies to boost gender diversity without applying any sort of target, is too timid.

The amendment would compel all publicly traded Canadian companies — roughly 600 on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) — to set targets for increasing underrepresented groups, but would leave it up to each company to decide on what the target should be.

“The bill, as it currently stands, is just a tap on the shoulder, whereas our amendment turns the tap into more of an intentional nudge in the right direction,” Omidvar, an expert in diversity, said in an interview with CBC News. The amendment is expected to be introduced by Independent Sen. Paul Massicotte on Thursday, some 18 months after the bill was first tabled in the House of Commons.

Voluntary approach not good enough: senator

Under the government’s bill, a diversity policy is not mandatory. If a company does not develop one, they would simply have to tell their shareholders why, the so-called “comply or explain” approach adopted by other regulators in Canada.

“For us, that’s too soft a nudge,” Omidvar said. “What we may well get, as a result of this bill, is corporations developing diversity policies and putting them on the shelf and no action.”

Omidvar points to research from the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA), an umbrella group of provincial securities regulators, which suggests a voluntary approach to diversity has led to little improvement.

Only 14 per cent of board seats are occupied by women, a three-percentage-point progress from 11 per cent in 2015. Forty-five per cent of all publicly listed companies do not have a single woman sitting on their board of directors. As for senior management, only 15 per cent of positions are filled by women, a proportion that has not progressed at all since 2015.

The research found that 1.1 per cent of board members are Indigenous, 3.2 per cent are persons with a disability and 4.3 per cent are members of a visible minority.

CSA also found that only 9 per cent of companies have internal targets for women on their boards, with a mere 2 per cent having targets for women in executive positions.

Omidvar said targets are not “quotas” per se as each company would be able to decide how many diverse candidates should be added to a board, but, at the very at least, they will have to commit to doing more.

Those targets, and a company’s success in meeting them, would then have to be reported to the federal government on an annual basis.

In turn, the minister responsible, the innovation minister, would prepare a public report documenting how well companies in Canada, writ large, have done in adding women and minorities to the seats of power at these companies. The company would also have to disclose progress to shareholders at their annual meetings.

Importantly, the amendment would actually define what exactly “diversity” is as the government’s bill, as currently written, is vague on that question.

If passed, the amended bill would compel companies to replicate definitions used by the federal government, namely that “diverse” candidates would include women, visible minorities, Indigenous people and those with disabilities. Notably, LGBTQ people would be excluded under such a definition.

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains is unconvinced amendments are necessary and will not support this move to alter his bill.

“The minister has been clear that the act and the forthcoming regulations are an appropriate and balanced approach that will facilitate a conversation on diversity between shareholders and the management and boards,” a spokesperson said in a statement to CBC News.

The spokesperson pointed to the success of the “comply or explain” model in the United Kingdom and Australia, where the number of women on boards stands at more than 20 per cent in both jurisdictions.

“Given this, we believe Bill C-25 is a good bill for corporations, stakeholders, shareholders, and all Canadians, and hope for its quick passage through the Senate,” he said.

Opposition to quotas

There is a reluctance from some in the business community to set hard quotas — as has been done in Norway, for example, where 40 per cent of all seats must be occupied by a woman.

Paul Schneider, a senior executive at the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, one of the largest institutional investors in the country, told the Senate committee studying Bill C-25 last month that he’d like to see a culture shift rather than the imposition of quotas.

“To be truly impactful, boards must take ownership of diversity. With a quota, they can abdicate ownership to the government,” he said.

“In the short run, quotas can indeed lead to greater diversity, but we fear that while establishing a quota incents boards to hit a specific number, it may hinder any progress over and above that target … Diversity should be achieved because it is good, sound business, not because it is a rule,” he said.

Omidvar said many companies are naturally sceptical of more regulation. “Generally, this is not particular to this bill, business leaders feel the less encumbered they are, the more capacity they will have to succeed in their business goals … but, as I’ve pointed out, [the amendment] just takes the bill from a tap to a nudge.”

And yet the proposed reporting regulations have the potential to be onerous as the more than 600 companies would have to take stock of how each of their board members (some have more than 20) identify, and then report that information to the government where the data would then be analyzed and catalogued, taking up time, money, and other resources.

Others, including Conservative Sen. Betty Unger, have said appointments should simply be based on who is best for the business.

“People invest in corporations to get a return on their investment, and this is best accomplished by appointing merit-based people to boards … As a woman — and, as you can see, I am not young — I could never feel good about myself if I knew that I got a position simply because I am a woman,” she said at a Nov. 30 committee meeting on the bill.

via Senate proposal would force companies to set diversity targets for board of directors – Politics – CBC News


Reports urge more diversity in tech sector to bridge ‘digital divide’

Canada catches up to the Silicon Valley conversation on the lack of diversity in tech (to be fair, there has been discussion that led to these reports):

The tech and innovation sector needs to do a better job of recruiting visible minorities to boost Canada’s economic output, two forthcoming studies say.

On Wednesday, the MaRS Discovery District, a Toronto-based innovation hub, will release Talent Fuels Tech, a report that found most job seekers in the region are visible minorities and argues for the development of a sector-wide strategy to build and retain a more diverse work force.

And the Ontario Incubator Diversity Report, an independent study by non-profit advocacy group Innovate Inclusion, examined four prominent organizations with incubator and accelerator programs – including MaRS – finding leadership and mentorship teams lacked African-Canadian, Latin-Canadian and Indigenous leaders. This, the report finds, can create a “digital divide” in the province that holds members of those communities back from contributing to the innovation economy.

While the pair of studies highlight that innovation hubs tend to unfairly leave crucial demographics of Canadians behind, they also chart pathways to more equitable recruitment strategies for hiring underrepresented visible minorities.

“As much as we celebrate diversity in Canada, diversity even more so in technology often starts and stops with gender,” says Jessica Yamoah, executive director of Innovate Inclusion. “Diversity within an organization will bring you perspective and new ways of doing things. A lot of times, there’s not enough credit given to our immigrant community.”

Innovate Inclusion’s report will be published later this month. It applauds Ontario’s well-known incubators and accelerators for “rising to the challenge” of gender diversity, and invites them to take further steps to get more members of the three underrepresented minority groups into their leadership teams. Examining publicly available information about various leadership groups – including boards and executive teams – at MaRS and Ryerson University’s DMZ in Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo’s Communitech and Invest Ottawa, the report found only five people of African, Latin or Indigenous descent among the dozens of leaders. (Invest Ottawa and DMZ told The Globe and Mail that some of the report’s figures are incorrect, but applaud its intent.)

Ms. Yamoah, who is Ghanaian-Canadian, says the report is not intended to scold the organizations, but rather to set a starting point from which they can improve inclusion, which would only serve to benefit everyone involved. “As we evolve in the innovation economy, certain communities are being excluded, creating a larger digital divide,” she says. “If the numbers aren’t established as starting point, how do we measure success?”

Canada loses when underrepresented communities aren’t included in the broader conversation, she says. “That can definitely be reflected in the bottom line. Look at how the African-Caribbean community affects buying decisions in popular culture. Instead of just being musicians and artists in front of the mic, why can’t they be the executives behind the deals, and the technology that’s used?”

The report’s suggestions include that governments provide more support to incubators and accelerators that strongly demonstrate diversity in their ranks, and to earmark funds and procurement opportunities for entrepreneurs of underrepresented backgrounds. Incubators, it suggests, should design strategies to build more diverse leadership teams and better target underrepresented groups.

MaRS’s report also sought ideas to better tap into tech talent in the Greater Toronto Area – and found the answer in seeking a more diverse range of candidates. “We need to build a pipeline of talent so companies can stop going through a closed loop of referrals,” says Lekan Olawoye, one of the report’s authors and the lead executive of Studio Y, a talent development and leadership program at MaRS.

The report surveyed nearly 600 technology workers, finding that 63 per cent of job seekers were visible minorities, while 56 per cent were born outside of Canada. “Either they’re looking for work because their current environment is not conducive to them, or they are overqualified for their current role and raising their hand and saying, ‘Hey, I have more skills to provide,’ ” Mr. Olawoye says.

The report recommends developing a “sector-wide diversity-and-inclusion working group” to develop a comprehensive system of talent attraction and retention for Toronto’s tech sector. And one major key unlocking this talent, Mr. Olawoye says, is by dismantling biases ingrained in hiring. One such bias is the need for cultural fit, which the report suggests is less important than hiring talent with a mindset for growth. “The best person might not be the person you like the most that you’ll take for a beer, but it’s the person who will help your company grow,” Mr. Olawoye says.

Ryerson’s DMZ has incorporated a diversity guidebook, TechGirls Canada and TWG’s Change Together, into its membership process. “I think it comes to no surprise that the Ontario ecosystem, in terms of diversity, is lacking – there’s a lot of work to be done,” says Abdullah Snobar, its executive director. Mr. Snobar underlines the importance of incorporating the value of diversity into incubators, rather than treating it as a series of boxes to check off. “We want to see it rooted into the culture of an organization,” he says.

Spokespersons for both Communitech and MaRS said they aim to seek diverse leadership, though they seek primarily to reflect the communities around them in attaining ethnic diversity. “To be diverse, our boards and our executive should mirror our population,” says Jodi Marner, Communitech’s head of diversity and talent initiatives, who suggested that Kitchener-Waterloo region does not have a large African-Canadian or Latin-Canadian communities to hire from. “I agree we’re not mirroring our population, but we need to understand our population better, and what it’s made up of.”

Ms. Yamoah warns that suggestions playing down the need for more African, Latin and Indigenous leaders are why the report was done in the first place. “This sentiment is concerning as it would never be expressed in the context of certain sports, entertainment, or the criminal justice system where these communities are often over-indexed,” she say

via Reports urge more diversity in tech sector to bridge ‘digital divide’ – The Globe and Mail

Canada’s special forces want to attract women for a job that’s more than kicking down doors

The above table  contrasts the overall representation of the Canadian Forces, RCMP, CSIS and CSE. The latter two organizations, more intelligence-driven than the CF and RCMP, indicate some hope for the strategy:

Canada’s special forces hope to recruit more than just a few good women in the coming years, says the commander of the elite force.

Maj-Gen. Mike Rouleau said the special forces, the highly trained military units that hunt terrorists and conduct covert operations, are considering how they can recruit more women.

More than just a nod toward society’s growing demand for gender balance, having more women in the unit would make it more effective, he said.

This is the future, and it is a bit of James Bond, but if you want to defeat a [terrorist] cellular-based network, you need to be in front of that cell– Steve Day, former commander of counterterrorism unit

“Having female operators would allow us to be more flexible in the battlespace,” Rouleau said in a recent interview. “It would allow us to be more under the radar in certain cases.”

In certain countries, two men walking down the street might draw attention, but having a man and woman conduct the same mission might be less noticeable, Rouleau suggested.

A former commander of the country’s elite counterterrorism unit, JTF-2, which is part of the special forces command, said the need for such mixed gender teams is something Canada’s allies have already recognized.

The more special forces are called on to fight terrorists, the more they will have to act and fight like intelligence agents, rather “door-kicking” commandos, said retired colonel Steve Day, who is now president of Reticle Security.

“Our closest allies routinely deploy male and female alongside each other to do the softer, intelligence-gathering, sensor-type operations,” he said.

“This is the future, and it is a bit of James Bond, but if you want to defeat a [terrorist] cellular-based network, you need to be in front of that cell, and at the moment, we’re not there.”

Clear criteria

Up to 14 per cent of the more than 2,200 Canadian special forces personnel are women, a percentage Rouleau said he wants to increase to 25 per cent.

That figure would be in line with the overall direction of the Canadian military, which has set the same goal.

“We’re an equal opportunity employer,” said Rouleau. “We’d love to have more women in the force.”

It is, however, easier said than done.

Rouleau noted a handful of women currently serve in both the special forces command and the unit that responds to chemical, biological and radioactive incidents.

A few have even tried out for JTF-2, but none have gone on to take the training course, because they failed to qualify, he said.

In order to be successful, Day said, a cultural change is needed within the special forces that recognizes not only the value of women in the field, but the fact that the elite troops are capable of doing more than assaulting a target.

The very first introduction of women into the special forces ranks in 2003-2004 “didn’t go over that well because organizationally we were quite immature when it came to understanding what the selection process would be,” said Day.

“There was a lot of pushback and no end of short-term grief.”

The problem is not simply gender bias, he added.

The selection process of an “assaulter” — a soldier well-suited to combat — is well documented, he said, but the criteria for choosing the best people for more intelligence-based operations is not as well defined. That needs to change, Day said.

Rouleau acknowledged his organization can do more to get out the message that “female operators are not only welcome, but in many cases, they would make us operationally more successful.”

Army under strain

The Liberal government’s defence policy, released last spring, mandated the expansion of special forces by up to 605 personnel, presenting all sorts of challenges beyond the gender issue.

At the moment, troops can only join the elite unit through the regular forces, and up to 94 per cent of those transfers come from the army.

The wider military is having its own problems.

The army currently sits at 47,000, which includes regular and reserve soldiers, as well as Canadian Rangers, who patrol the Arctic. But the regular force is short up to 1,500 troops from its allotted strength of 23,100, according to Department of Defence statistics.

Members of Canadian Forces Special Operations JTF-2 unit storm a ship during a training mission off the shores of Churchill, Man. in 2012. The nature of operations for special forces is changing to include more intelligence gathering. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Senior defence officials insist they’re hitting recruiting targets, but retention of highly skilled members is a problem.

Drawing from an army that is struggling to keep qualified soldiers “is a concern,” said Rouleau, who acknowledged he and his staff are looking for a direct-entry model similar to a program introduced by the U.S. Army, known as 18-Xray.

“You can’t come from the street to be a special forces operator,” said Rouleau. “But that doesn’t mean in the future we won’t have a model that you can come from the street.

“I’m not saying that’s where we’re going. I’m saying we’re looking at alternate options to today’s model to make sure that we’re both capturing the talent that’s out there, but also try, if we can, to alleviate some of the pressure from the services.”

The American system gives recruits the opportunity to “try out” for special forces right away.

U.S.officials say it does not guarantee a recruit will be accepted, only that they will be given the opportunity to demonstrate they have “the right stuff.”

Source: Canada’s special forces want to attract women for a job that’s more than kicking down doors