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


Fighting Bias With Board Games : Code Switch : NPR

Interesting and innovative approach:

Quick, think of a physicist.

If you’re anything like me, you probably didn’t have to think very hard before the names Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton popped up.

But what if I asked you to think of a female physicist? What about a black, female physicist?

You may have to think a bit harder about that. For years, mainstream accounts of history have largely ignored or forgotten the scientific contributions of women and people of color.

This is where Buffalo — a card game designed by Dartmouth University’s Tiltfactor Lab — comes in. The rules are simple. You start with two decks of cards. One deck contains adjectives like Chinese, tall or enigmatic; the other contains nouns like wizard or dancer.

Draw one card from each deck, and place them face up. And then all the players race to shout out a real person or fictional character who fits the description.

So say you draw “dashing” and “TV show character.”

You may yell out “David Hasselhoff in Knight Rider!”

“Female” and “olympian?”

Gabby Douglas!

Female physicist?

Hmm. If everyone is stumped, or “buffaloed,” you draw another noun and adjective pair and try again. When the decks run out, the player who has made the most matches wins.

It’s the sort of game you’d pull out at dinner parties when the conversation lulls. But the game’s creators says it’s good for something else — reducing prejudice. By forcing players to think of people that buck stereotypes, Buffalo subliminally challenges those stereotypes.

“So it starts to work on a conscious level of reminding us that we don’t really know a lot of things we might want to know about the world around us,” explains Mary Flanagan, who leads Dartmouth University’s Tiltfactor Lab, which makes games designed for social change and studies their effects.

Buffalo might nudge us to get better acquainted with the work of female physicists, “but it also unconsciously starts to open up stereotypical patterns in the way we think,” Flanagan says.

In one of many tests she conducted, Flanagan rounded up about 200 college students and assigned half to play Buffalo. After one game, the Buffalo players were slightly more likely than their peers to strongly agree with statements like, “There is potential for good and evil in all of us,” and, “I can see myself fitting into many groups.”

Students who played Buffalo also scored better on a standard psychological test for tolerance. “After 20 minutes of gameplay, you’ve got some kind of measurable transformation with a player — I think that’s pretty incredible,” Flanagan says.

Buffalo isn’t Flanagan’s only bias-busting game. Tiltfactor makes two others called “Awkward Moment” and “Awkward Moment At Work.” They’re designed to reduce gender discrimination at school and in the workplace, respectively.

“I’m really weary of saying things like, ‘Games are going to save the world,'” Flanagan says. But she adds, “it’s a serious question to look at how a little game could try to address a massive, lived social problem that affects so many individuals.”


Maanvi Singh for NPR

Scientists have tried all sorts of quick-fix tactics to train away racism, sexism and homophobia. In one small study, researchers at Oxford University even looked into whether Propranolol, a drug that’s normally used to reduce blood pressure, could ease away racist attitudes. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that there is no panacea capable of curing bigotry.

There are, however, good reasons to get behind the idea that games or any other sort of entertainment can change the way we think.

“People aren’t excited about showing up to diversity trainings or listening to people lecture them. People don’t generally want to be told what to think,” explains Betsy Levy Paluck, a professor of psychology at Princeton University who studies how media can change attitudes and behaviors. “But people like entertainment. So, just on a pragmatic basis, that’s one reason to use it to teach.”

There’s a long history of using literature, music and TV shows to encourage social change. In a 2009 study, Paluck found that radio soap opera helped bridge the divides in post-genocide Rwanda. “We know that various forms of pop-culture and entertainment help reduce prejudice,” Paluck says. “In terms of other types of entertainment — there’s less research. We’re still finding out whether and how something like a game can help.”

Anthony Greenwald, a psychologist at the University of Washington who has dedicated his career to studying people’s deep-seated prejudices, is skeptical. Like Flanagan, he says, several well-intentioned researchers have proved a handful of interventions — including thought exercises, writing assignments and games — can indeed reduce prejudice for a short period of time. But, “these desired effects generally disappear rapidly. Very few studies have looked at the effects even as much as one day later.”

After all, how can 20 minutes of anything dislodge attitudes that society has pounded into our skulls over a lifetime?

Flanagan says her lab is still looking into that question, and hopes to conduct more studies in the future that track long-term effects. “We do know that people play games often. If it really is a good game, people will return to it. They’ll play it over and over again,” Flanagan says. Her philosophy: maybe a game a day can help us keep at least some of our prejudices away.

via Fighting Bias With Board Games : Code Switch : NPR

ICYMI – Immigration: Gérard Bouchard plaide pour des quotas d’embauche | Réjean Bourdeau | Actualités

Interesting. Personally, I favour the federal approach of transparency and annual reporting for the public service and federally-regulated sectors, which has worked reasonably well over the last 25 years or so but Quebec numbers, last time I checked, are particularly low:

Que faut-il faire pour voir grandir le sentiment d’appartenance des immigrants à l’égard du Québec?

Il faut réussir leur intégration économique et sociale. Quelqu’un d’exclu et victime de discrimination ne développera jamais de sentiment d’appartenance. Pour sensibiliser quelqu’un et pour le faire vibrer à nos valeurs, il faut d’abord lui donner un travail. Et là-dessus, on a vraiment mal joué nos cartes. Le sous-emploi chez les immigrants bouge peu parce qu’on ne fait pas ce qu’il faut. Le gouvernement pourrait mettre en oeuvre des programmes. Une espèce d’affirmative action, comme ils ont fait aux États-Unis pour créer une classe moyenne afro-américaine. Ça prendrait quelque chose de massif, de déterminé. Qui serait soutenu par la population. Qui serait enveloppé dans un discours. Mais nous, on ne le fait pas.

Pourquoi on ne le fait pas?

Il n’y a pas de volonté politique pour ça. Quand il y a eu la tuerie dans la mosquée de Québec en janvier dernier, le premier ministre Couillard a dit : «Il y a eu un avant et il y aura un après.» Ça laissait entendre que cet événement avait été d’une horreur telle que plus rien n’allait se passer de la même manière. Qu’on allait changer les choses en profondeur. Mais il n’y a rien eu. Ce n’est pas la loi 62 (respect de la neutralité religieuse de l’État) qui va régler les problèmes. Et la Consultation sur la discrimination systémique et le racisme n’a pas levé. Ça s’est transformé en Forum sur la valorisation de la diversité et la lutte contre la discrimination qui a lui-même commencé à branler.

Quel type de politique d’intégration faut-il mettre en oeuvre pour offrir des emplois aux immigrants?

Il faut créer des conditions favorables pour réparer le retard social qu’ils ont accusé. Alors, ça va prendre un discours politique qui a beaucoup d’autorité pour faire accepter ça à la population. Parce que plusieurs pourraient dire : «Non, non, l’égalité, ce sont les mêmes conditions pour tout le monde.» Mais il va falloir faire plus que ça, parce que là, c’est quelque chose de structurel.

Que proposez-vous?

Il faut instituer des quotas. Un peu comme on l’a fait pour l’égalité hommes-femmes. Ça, ce sont des choses très concrètes. On fixe la barre. Par exemple, il faut qu’il y ait la moitié des femmes dans les conseils d’administration. Et il y a des organismes de surveillance pour voir comment ça se passe. Pour les travailleurs immigrants, on pourrait soumettre les entreprises à certaines règles pour l’embauche. Bref, il y a plein de mesures qui pourraient être appliquées. Mais il faudrait que ce soit enveloppé dans un discours politique qui rend la chose acceptable à l’ensemble de la population. Autrement, ça va passer pour une injustice, pour des privilèges aux immigrants. Et ce discours-là est déjà présent.

Pourquoi les travailleurs immigrants sont-ils moins recherchés?

D’abord, il y a une forme de corporatisme quand vient le temps de reconnaître les diplômes obtenus à l’étranger. De plus, il y a, étrangement, certaines résistances syndicales à l’embauche d’immigrants dans la fonction publique. Ensuite, du côté des PME, on se tourne souvent vers des connaissances, des parents (appelons ça «le facteur cousin»), quand vient le temps d’engager. Ce facteur est beaucoup moins présent dans les multinationales.

Quels sont les impacts de ce type de discrimination?

Je me suis souvent fait dire par des immigrants, ou par des membres des minorités, qui étaient sans emploi : «M. Bouchard, votre modèle d’interculturalisme, ça a du bon sens, mais pourquoi ce serait très important pour nous… on n’a pas d’emplois. Nos enfants nous regardent et nous demandent pourquoi on ne travaille pas.» Si quelqu’un n’a pas d’emploi, il ne peut pas rêver. Le sensibiliser à nos symboles, à nos valeurs, à nos combats, ça ne marche pas. Il faut d’abord qu’il retrouve un sens de la dignité. Un grand nombre d’immigrants sont humiliés de ne pas avoir d’emploi et de vivre aux crochets de la société dans laquelle ils vivent.

via Immigration: Gérard Bouchard plaide pour des quotas d’embauche | Réjean Bourdeau | Actualités

ICYMI: How the federal government is slowly becoming as diverse as Canada

Good overview article by Aaron Wherry of CBC on diversity in government, both public service and political appointments. Some of my analysis quoted and used:

Campaigning in 2015, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals promised to “build a government as diverse as Canada.”

That job might’ve seemed nearly done on Day One. Of the 31 ministers sworn in on Nov. 4, 2015, 15 were, famously, women. Five ministers were visible minorities and two others were Indigenous.

A cabinet ratio of 48.3 per cent women, 16.1 per cent visible minorities and 6.5 per cent Indigenous comes close to matching a Canadian population that was 50.9 per cent women, 22.3 per cent visible minorities and 4.9 per cent Indigenous.

But a prime minister and his government are responsible for far more than a few dozen cabinet positions. The cabinet oversees more than 1,500 appointments, including chairs and members of boards, tribunals and Crown corporations, deputy ministers, heads of foreign missions, judges and senators.

On that much larger scale, progress has been made, but the ideal of a government that looks like Canada is still a ways off.

A new appointment process

When the government was sworn in, just 34 per cent of federal appointees were women, 4.5 per cent were visible minorities and 3.9 per cent were Indigenous.

Two years later, according to data from the Privy Council Office, 42.8 per cent of appointees are women, 5.6 per cent are visible minorities and 5.8 per cent are Indigenous.

In February 2016, the Liberal government announced a new appointment process for boards, agencies, tribunals, officers of Parliament and Crown corporations. It specified diversity as a goal and opened applications to the public.

According to the Privy Council Office, 429 appointments were made via that process through Dec. 5, 2017. Of those, 56.6 per cent were women, 11.2 per cent were visible minorities and 9.6 per cent were Indigenous.

A total of 579 appointments — including deputy ministers, heads of mission and appointments for which requirements are specified in law — were made through existing processes. Of those, 43.7 per cent were women, 3.8 per cent were visible minorities and 5.2 per cent were Indigenous.

“Mr. Trudeau has been more intentional on these issues than his predecessors and has made great progress in opening up the process. He has also clearly made great strides on gender,” says Wendy Cukier, director of Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute.

But, says Cukier, the government’s efforts toward transparency and equal opportunity need to be accompanied by “proactive outreach and recruitment as well as retention strategies” in order to “address some of the barriers historically disadvantaged groups have faced.”

Eleanore Catenaro, press secretary for the prime minister, says, “Our aim is to identify high-quality candidates who will help to achieve gender parity and truly reflect Canada’s diversity.”

She says, “We know there is more work to do to achieve these goals, and we continue to do outreach to potential qualified and diverse candidates to encourage them to apply.”

Rigorous reporting of demographic data across federal appointments could presumably drive change — or at least give the  government something to answer for — but most of these numbers have not been made public.

“It is crucial that the government tracks, measures and reports on diversity in all areas,” says Sen. Ratna Omidvar, the founding director of Ryerson’s Global Diversity Exchange. “By doing so, we are able to see where we are making progress and where we need to improve.”

Beneath those top-line numbers, there are a few other points of reference.

According to Global Affairs Canada, the government made 87 heads-of-mission appointments — ambassadors, consul generals and official representatives — in 2016 and 2017. Forty-eight per cent were women and 13.8 per cent were visible minorities. There were no Indigenous appointees.

Senate and court appointments

Andrew Griffith, a former official at the department of citizenship and immigration who has been tracking diversity in federal appointments, has counted 18 women, six visible minorities and three Indigenous Canadians among Trudeau’s 31 Senate appointments.

As a result of an initiative to track judicial appointees, the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs has published a tally of court appointments from Oct. 21, 2016 through Oct. 27, 2017. Between those dates, 74 judicial appointments were made, of whom 50 per cent were women, 12.1 per cent were visible minorities and four per cent were Indigenous.

But that data also suggested the pool of candidates was limited: of the 997 applications received, just 97 applicants identified as a visible minority and 36 were Indigenous.​

At some point, it might be charged that diversity is being inappropriately prioritized ahead of merit or competency — as Kevin O’Leary once alleged of Trudeau’s cabinet. But such suggestions assume that achieving diversity must come at the expense of merit.

Ideally, diversity would also amount to more than a numerical value.

3 benefits of diversity

Griffith, for instance, suggests three potential benefits of diversity in appointments: that it allows Canadians to see themselves represented in government institutions, that it brings a range of experience and perspectives to government policies and operations and that it reduces the risk of inappropriate policies (for example, an RCMP interview guide that asked asylum-seekers about their religious practices).

“It has been proven over and over that more diversity in the workplace leads to better outcomes,” says Omidvar, who is also pushing to tighten the standards included in a proposed government bill that would require corporate boards to report on diversity.

But the most profound impact could conceivably relate to Griffith’s first potential benefit. A nation that values diversity and pluralism might want its institutions to reflect those principles — and institutions that reflect those principles might advance the building of a multicultural society.

“It normalizes diversity,” Omidvar said of public appointments. “At this point, diversity is still sort of not the norm, which is why we focus on it.”

via How the federal government is slowly becoming as diverse as Canada – Politics – CBC News

The growing diversity within federal ridings: Policy Options

My latest:

Increased political representation of visible minorities in Canada makes it virtually impossible for any major political party to take explicit anti-immigration positions.

via The growing diversity within federal ridings

For those interested, the full table of all 338 ridings can be found here: C16 – Visible Minority – Ridings

American Bar Association is ‘greatly concerned’ about low percentage of female and minority US attorney candidates

Consistent with the lack of diversity among Cabinet and other appointees:

ABA President Hilarie Bass has sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions that asks him to urge senators proposing U.S. attorney candidates to take diversity into account.

The letter (PDF) is dated Nov. 30, nearly two weeks after President Donald Trump announced a ninth wave of U.S. attorney nominations. Of the 57 U.S. attorney candidates announced so far by the Trump administration, one was black and three were women, Newsweek reported.

The letter acknowledges that senators representing states in which U.S. attorneys are to serve have long had the prerogative to make recommendations for appointments. But the attorney general who will oversee the U.S. attorneys “also has influence over the process,” the letter says.

“We are greatly concerned that a lower percentage of women and people of color have been appointed to these positions in the past year than in previous administrations—both Democrat and Republican,” the letter says. “That is why I am writing you to ask that you take an active role to help ensure that the cadre of U.S. attorneys appointed in this administration is more reflective of the legal profession and our society.”

The letter says equal numbers of men and women are graduating from law school, but the profession is 65 percent male and 85 percent white. Progress in achieving diversity “has been uneven, slow, and concentrated in low- and mid-level legal jobs,” Bass writes. “Racial and ethnic groups, sexual and gender minorities, and lawyers with disabilities continue to be underrepresented and face hurdles to advancement throughout the profession.”

“Our failure to achieve a diverse justice system despite the ever-increasing multiculturalism of our nation invites a crisis in public confidence,” the letter says. “A justice system that is not representative of the diverse community it serves risks losing its legitimacy in the eyes of those who come before it.”

via ABA is ‘greatly concerned’ about low percentage of female and minority US attorney candidates

Why Ottawa needs to nudge Canada’s boards toward greater diversity: Senators Massicotte and Omidvar

Agree – sensible amendments that provide latitude for companies to set their objectives with accountability and transparency provided through regular company and overall reporting:

This week, the Senate will vote on Bill C-25. The bill proposes to reform the process for electing directors of distributing corporations and co-operatives and modernize communications between corporations and their shareholders. It also requires distributing corporations to provide shareholders, at annual general meetings, information about diversity among directors and senior management.

The goal of the legislation is to increase diversity among corporate boards and among their executive ranks. The intent of the legislation is right. We need more diversity. But the measures proposed are not enough.

Three years ago, the Canadian Securities Administrators adopted a “comply or explain” model that is specific to the representation of women on boards and applies to most publicly traded companies in Canada. Bill C-25 emulates this approach.

Results have been disappointing: Only 14 per cent of board seats are now occupied by women, a meagre three-percentage-point progress from 11 per cent in 2015. Regarding senior management, only 15 per cent of positions are filled by women, a proportion that has not progressed at all since 2015.

Women are better represented on boards and in senior executive positions at larger firms. But even in FP500 companies, other groups are unacceptably underrepresented. Only 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.

Why would an approach that has yielded so few advances in recent years work better in the future? The government is asking Canadians to be patient, but shouldn’t we request an improved approach? We strongly believe we should.

This week, we will table an amendment in order to ensure we do more than what is timidly proposed in Bill C-25. This amendment puts forward an approach that is both progressive and respectful of corporations’ choices and strategies.

The term “diversity” is not defined in Bill C-25. When diversity is left undefined, even on the most basic level, as we saw in the United States, it loses its emphasis. It becomes experiential rather than identity-based. Given the myriad interpretations possible, the term risks being diluted beyond recognition, with very little accountability in place.

Our amendment would require publicly traded corporations to set self-determined numerical goals, such as percentages and timetables, to bolster the representation of at least four underrepresented groups within boards and senior management. It would specifically target the designated groups identified in the 1995 Employment Equity Act: women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and visible minorities.

To be clear: Companies would be allowed to establish numerical goals for these four groups, considering industry and company-specific factors and also include other forms of diversity if they so wish.

We know this approach works. According to the Canadian Securities Administrators, issuers that set themselves targets for the representation of women on boards do more than twice as well (reaching a 26-per-cent female composition of their boards) than companies that do not set such goals (12 per cent being their proportion).

So, by requiring corporations to report policies and goals to their shareholders, this amendment is designed to nudge them to accelerate change.

But if we are to know whether real progress is made, we need a periodical, complete, up-to-date picture of the situation in the upper echelons of the corporate world. That is why the amendment would require that corporations also send diversity and numerical goals information to the government. As well, each year, the minister would be required to prepare and publish a report presenting the aggregate data received.

The approach that we propose seeks better representation for women and other underrepresented groups, while leaving corporations free to take into account their particular circumstances. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach and it is a much better alternative than the wait-and-see approach proposed by the government.

This is an important piece of legislation. Diversity is our strength but inclusion is our choice. We need to make these changes to improve the bill and accelerate progress.

via Why Ottawa needs to nudge Canada’s boards toward greater diversity – The Globe and Mail

EU chiefs ‘IGNORE’ ethnic minority staff ‘despite promoting diversity’ |

The numbers are telling:

Statistics published by the Politico website show minorities make up just one per cent of EU institutions.

Part of the reason for the EU’s deliberate colour blindness stems from countries like France where there is huge opposition to compiling statistics on race.

But critics say that has led the bloc to become a “bubble” for rich white people and no longer reflects the continent it purports to represent.

Is the EU too white?

British Conservative MEP Syed Kamall said there was a clear divide between those high up in Brussels and the staff performing low-level jobs.He told the site: “If you want to see diversity in the European institutions, look at the faces of the cleaners leaving the building early in the morning and contrast that with the white MEPs and officials entering.”

One MEP’s assistant, Rachael Moore, even accused politicians at the European Parliament of ignoring her as one of the few “black faces” andclaimed she was subjected to security checks for no good reason.

She said: “It’s like I am not even there — they just look straight at my boss.

“They don’t look or reply to me when I ask a question. I get looks like ‘you’re not supposed to be here’.”

She went on: “I don’t sound like anything in particular on the surface.

“There is shock, a blank stare when they see me for the first time. It plays on my daily life.”

There is a lack of diversity at EU institutions

British Conservative MEP Syed Kamall said there was a clear divide between those high up in Brussels and the staff performing low-level jobs.

And Sarah Chander from the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) told Politico there was an “audacity” in Brussels where “every single one” of those promoting multiculturalism were white.

She said: “Many working in the Brussels bubble feel that working on progressive issues gives them a sense of immunity for the overwhelming whiteness of their institutions and organisations.”

It is not the first time concerns have been raised about a lack of representation in the EU corridors of power.

The ENAR penned a letter to Jean Claude-Junker earlier this year calling for changes to its diversity strategy.

It came after the Commission published a new policy on boosting the number of women, people with disabilities and LGBT staff working at its buildings, but ignored their race.

The letter said: “The European Commission has been widely criticised for under-representation of racial, ethnic and religious minorities within its workforce.

“Many commentators have argued that the European Commission must better reflect the diversity of the European society.

“Particularly at senior levels, the issue of under-representation is acute.

“This points to a trend of structural discrimination within the European Commission and jeopardises the equal inclusion of racial, ethnic and religious minority staff.”

But last year Alexander Winterstein, deputy chief spokesman for the Commission, defended its policies.

He claimed: “If you walk through our corridors you will see people from all walks of life, from all over Europe.”

via EU chiefs ‘IGNORE’ ethnic minority staff ‘despite promoting diversity’ | World | News |

Can white male CEOs bring diversity to corporate Canada? Interview with Frank Vettese, CEO Deloitte Canada

Worth reading:

Q: How long have you been Deloitte’s “chief inclusion officer”? 

A: Almost two years. I’ve been CEO since 2012, prior to that going back to 2006 I co-founded our “women’s initiative.” I have been heavily involved in all things diversity-related at Deloitte. I was executing the CEO role and at same time looking to make deliberate shifts in the organization—from an emphasis on diversity to an emphasis on inclusion. Inclusion really is about creating the conditions for success within the organization within the widest scale. I needed to be the individual setting the tone and the execution plan and linking it to our strategy. Hence, it was an incremental role I took on.

Q: For decades we’ve been hearing white men in powerful positions discuss the value of diversity—and more recently “inclusion.” And yet business remains dominated by white men. The link to Deloitte Canada’s leadership team on your website is broken. But from what I can see, the top three positions are held by white men and only one of six regional managers is a woman. What has Deloitte done, or is it doing, to establish greater diversity/inclusion?

A: In terms of looking at those rolesCEO or chairyou’re correct, they’re men. We’ve got between 20 and 30 per cent of our leadership team as women and 30 and 40 per cent of board as women; I would concur with your point that what we’ve been dealing with, certainly in our organization, and it’s no different than corporate Canada, is a significant under-representation of women and visible minorities and other forms of diversity. We’ve recently appointed our CFO, which you could argue is the third most significant position in the organization, as a female. And when you look at broader leadership team, our vice-chairgroup, we have a number of women within that group.

We’ve had a long track record of hiring at the Canadian representation of our population at the entry levelwomen, visible minorities, all forms of diverse communities. The challenge has been at the most senior levels and one step back, entry into partnership. To me, this has been the real telling tale of whether the firm is getting this right. In the first few years we were struggling with getting representation  in partnership ranks at Canadian population levels. I’m proud of the last two admission years have approximated the Canadian populationlast year 45 percent of new partners were women. We’re still not where we need to be.

Q: Deloitte’s report talks in terms of the need for revolutionary change. Yet as Thomas Kuhn wrote in in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, paradigm shifts rarely happens from within. You are ensconced in corporate Canada. What makes you confident you can create radical change from within?

A: The thing that gives me great confidence is that there is a clear mandate for this. The whole notion about inclusion for our firm is entirely embedded in the strategy of the firm….Go back less than 10 years, and we’d talk about the most significant issue, the topic of inclusion was something that might have come up episodically. Today it is very rare when I go and exchange at the external marketplace that this isn’t at the forefront at least around awareness and recognition of the business case and the moral imperative. I subscribe that there’s a big difference between that and the “how” and “What do we do to get it done?” As we’ve transformed, we’ve engaged our people, our Millennials, Gen X, they have informed what it is we’re doing. We’ve removed hierarchy…They are the ones telling us this is needed for success. I’m confident this has moved from conversation into real action.

Q: On the point of removing hierarchy, you’ve talked about having no formal offices at Deloitte.  So you don’t have an office?

A: I have no office whatsoever; today I’ve probably operated on six or seven floors.

Q: Yet hierarchy is measured in lots of ways in a corporation, mostly by compensation. What are you doing to flatten that out? 

A: A few things. We used to put more of an emphasis on roles, management jobs that had a value assigned to them. Today the measure is very simple: contribution and impact. It’s determined one person at a time; there’s goal-setting. I think that has dramatically changed the way we share the financial rewards and benefits of the firm. We’re working hard at reviewing our compensation policies and approaches to make sure that we’re removing bias, certainly around gender parity but it goes beyond that to ensuring that what people do, functions they perform, impact they drive is being measured in as an objective way as possible. We’re even looking at introducing things like artificial intelligence into our processes to remove bias.

Q: In  your Globe and Mail op-ed you admitted you were guilty in the past of hiring people who looked like you. The report refers to “deep underlying cultural sources of exclusion.” Is that one of them?

A: At time I was launching women’s initiative in 2006, I put in place measures to address the concern, “How do we assure having top talent female managers invited into our partnership?” We saw good progress I stood back after a couple of years and looked at the overall numbers and they moved, but didn’t move as much as I thought. When I went to assess the root cause, we were providing support and tailored development to the people we had. But looking to build the business and fill gaps, I was disproportionately hiring people who had similar attributes to me. It was an unconscious bias I did not identify at the time. And once we  identified it, we could put measures in place. So instead of going to the usual suspects and going to the regular places, how do we change practices to widen the aperture to ensure we look at all qualified candidates?

Q: The report refers to the “diversity industry” which began in the 1960s, noting that diversity training in corporations doesn’t improve diversity. Why not?

A: A lot of the training I made reference to was diversity training—it was awareness of differences, it was spotlighting and putting an emphasis on differences. To some extent, a lot of that training was around representation; the measure of success was the numbers, the fact we were looking at measures of diversity as the outcome. And although diversity is important, and I would say that inclusion without diversity is hollow, the flip is true: diversity in itself does not mean the organization is inclusive. If we’re having certain numbers you’re counting doesn’t mean you are creating a workplace where people can bring their whole selves to work; where there is that flexibility, tailoring to how people operate to thrive and succeed on their own basis. A lot of diversity training has failed because it’s still focused on the need to hit certain targets, as opposed to that underlying culture.

Q: The last of the report’s five “action” recommendations is “Own inclusion inside and outside the office”—meaning to call out inequalities and bias when you see them.  You sit on the Dean’s Advisory Council at the Schulich School of Business, which is 56 men and 15 women. And you sit on the advisory board of Catalyst Canada [a non-profit that promotes advancement of women in the workplace];  it’s composed of 11 men and seven women. Last September, CIBC chief executive Victor Dodig, a white man, replaced Bill Downe, a white man, as the board chair at Catalyst. Don’t you have a responsibility to speak out about inequities on corporate boards? Or do you agree that the board of an organization devoted to promotion of women in business should be headed by white guys?

A: First of all, the CEO of Catalyst is a woman. Victor is someone who at the core represents the ideals and what we’re trying to accomplish. I look at it as “Who is in the best position and most qualified at that time to advance what is core to the strategic objectives of the organization?” I do believe it’s important that we don’t get caught up in the notion that in any way starts to approach tokenismrather that we look at each unique person and how they align against the needs of the role. Having said that, I’m not trying to dispel the underlying point that you’re making which is, “Are there some things we have to deliberately do and deliberately make to ensure our boards represent the broader constituent group and actually execute against the ideals we espouse?” So our Deloitte Canadian board, for example, when we first set up, it was making sure we could sign up for 30 per cent representation by this year. We’re past that number.

Q: Why a 30 per cent target? Why not 50 per cent?

A: There’s no question that what we hope to achieve in our organization is that we get to the [statistical equivalent of female representation in the] Canadian population in the partner group and in our most senior roles. But in a board situation we don’t simply get, with the stroke of a pen, to construct a board. With our bylaws, we have to have partners who vote. We work through a deliberate process to determine we could achieve 30 per cent. We’re continuing to push boundaries. In our global [Deloitte] board, we had a real deficit in female representation and some of the larger countries had two board seats, one for their sitting chair and one for the CEO. So myself and four other stepped out of our seats years ago and put a top female leaders. Where we have the latitude we’re looking for creative ways to do that. The discourse and effectiveness of our global board has moved up a clear notch.

via Can white male CEOs bring diversity to corporate Canada? –

Diverse workforce expected by new recruits, drives performance | Business Insurance

Insurance industry perspective:

Insurance industry companies seeking to attract young professionals to the sector need to create work environments that welcome diversity or risk losing talent to competitors, a panel of experts said.

In addition, companies that actively promote diversity may perform better financially, they said.

There is a “dawning reality” that corporate culture has fundamentally changed, said Dominic Christian, CEO of Aon U.K. Ltd., a unit of Aon P.L.C. in London.

Young people entering the workforce assume that multiculturalism and gender equality are part of corporate culture, he said, and most executives’ approach to management encourages diversity, he said during a panel session at Business Insurance’s 2017 Women to Watch EMEA Awards and Leadership Conference in London last week.

“The leaders of companies today in corporate life, for the most part, are intensely consensual, they are very open, and openness and receptivity are at the heart of diversity,” Mr. Christian said.

Those companies that don’t promote diversity will lose coveted young employees to rivals, said Harsha V. Agadi, president and CEO of Crawford & Co. in Atlanta.

“These young executives will learn to jump, and there will always be a net,” he said.

To improve diversity in senior positions, companies should focus on their talent “pipelines” to ensure that diversity efforts are sustainable, said Romaney O’Malley, head of U.K. regions and industrials and commercials in Europe for American International Group Inc. in London, and one of Business Insurance’s 2017 Women to Watch.

AIG in Europe has committed to having a pipeline that is composed of 50% women within the next two years, she said.

“That’s really getting at succession planning — and succession planning at all levels,” she said.

FM Global is seeking to increase gender diversity in its talent pipeline, which targets graduate engineers, but in the U.K. only 15% of graduates with degrees in engineering are women, said Angela Kelly, vice president of diversity and international human resources for FM Global in Windsor, England.

To try to improve gender diversity, the insurer established a program with 20 women around the globe appointed as “engineering ambassadors,” with responsibility for working with their business leaders to address the challenge of attracting and developing women engineers. The program, which included networking, mentoring and presenting to senior management, has been in place for two years, and 50% of the women have been promoted into higher-level positions, Ms. Kelly said.

In addition, while historically only 20% to 25% of FM Global’s engineering recruits have been women, last year 50% of the recruits were women, she said.

“I’ve got to think that by putting these formal programs in place, putting some rigor behind it, getting that executive support and buy-in, that’s got to have contributed,” Ms. Kelly said.

As they promote more women to senior positions, companies may need to look outside of their own organizations for mentors for women executives, said Mr. Agadi of Crawford.

“You can promote women, you can have them on the executive committee, but guess what — when they get to the top, you might not be the best mentor for them,” he said.

At another company, Mr. Agadi said he asked the female CEO of another company to mentor an Iranian female executive who was promoted to a senior position based in the southern United States rather than one of her six male colleagues in the U.S.

“If I had her being mentored internally, it would have been a big, big miss,” he said.

Swiss Re Ltd. has a structured program for increasing diversity within the organization, including an active female sponsorship program, with every line manager held accountable for meeting diversity targets, said Frank O’Neill, CEO of U.K. and Ireland for Swiss Re in London.

The benefits of diversity initiatives can sometimes be seen in financial results, he said.

Prior to his current position, Mr. O’Neill ran Swiss Re’s Africa and Middle East business and was based in Cape Town, South Africa. When he took the job in 2012, the executive team was made up exclusively of white males and the business was performing badly. In the next year and a half, he rebuilt the team so it was 60% female, and 60% of those women were women of color, he said. When he left the position last year, revenue had increased 100% and earnings had increased 120%.

“If you build the right team with great talent, you can really drive the business forward,” Mr. O’Neill said.

via Diverse workforce expected by new recruits, drives performance | Business Insurance