Good detailed piece on the Canadian foreign service demographics and head of mission appointments (my examination of the diversity of senior heads of mission – the 16 positions classified at the ADM level – showed 3 women (19 percent) and 1 visible minority (6 percent).
The Prime Minister is a feminist and there is gender parity in cabinet, but Canada’s foreign service still has a long way to go.
Sources say that the foreign service has negative gaps in regards to the number of women it employs, as well as aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities.
According to a public report on employment equity in the government for the 2015-16 year, in the entire department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development, 54.8 per cent of employees were women, 2.4 per cent were aboriginal peoples, 3.3 per cent were persons with disabilities, and 14.4 per cent were visible minorities.
However, according to numbers given to The Hill Times from an “internal workforce analysis for the foreign service group,” Canada’s foreign service is significantly lacking in women.
The department has targets for employment equity, and in terms of women in the foreign service, the foreign service has a negative gap of 166, meaning the department would need to employ 166 more women in order achieve equity. There is also a negative gap of 18 for aboriginal people, and 16 for people with disabilities. However, for visible minorities, the department is positive by 64, meaning they have 64 more visible minority employees than required to be equitable, according to the standards set by the Canada Labour Market Availability.
Employment equity data for the foreign service, provided to The Hill Times by Global Affairs on June 6, 2016.
The document includes data as of March 31 of this year. Global Affairs confirmed the above numbers, and provided a chart demonstrating the employment equity targets and gaps in percentages. According to Eric Pelletier, a spokesperson for Global Affairs, there is a negative gap of 4.1 per cent for women, meaning women are under-represented by 4.1 per cent. It cites that there are currently 48.1 per cent women in the foreign service, and 62 per cent required representation. A negative gap of 1.5 per cent exists for aboriginal peoples, a negative gap of 1.4 per cent for persons with disabilities, and a positive gap of 5.3 per cent for visible minorities. Mr. Pelletier also said that the foreign service is 71.6 per cent anglophone and 28.4 per cent francophone.
Michael Kologie, communications director for the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO), said in an interview with The Hill Times that overall, “if we’re talking about employment equity gaps, we’re doing very well when it comes to visible minorities. We’re doing okay when it comes to persons with disabilities, and where we’re really lacking is actually with respect to women and aboriginal peoples.” He said for women, the gap is “quite significant.”
Artur Wilczynski, Canada’s ambassador to Norway, further confirmed these gaps in an interview.
“I took a quick peek at the stats in terms of the employment equity. In the executive cadre, if you look at visible minorities in particular, there are no negative gaps there according to our reports, but there is still a lot of work to be done for example in increasing the representation of indigenous persons, persons with disabilities and women, and quite frankly, people of multiple backgrounds,” he said.
In a later emailed statement, Mr. Kologie wrote that PAFSO is committed to working in collaboration with Global Affairs to encourage a diverse foreign service, “with special attention on currently underrepresented groups such as women, aboriginal peoples, and persons with disabilities,” adding that visible minorities are well represented in the foreign service.
It has been reported by both The Ottawa Citizen and The Globe and Mail that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has given Global Affairs instructions to diversify the foreign service and to specifically hire more women.
The Citizen’s columnist Andrew Cohen wrote in April that “Justin Trudeau has told Global Affairs that its list of career candidates has too many white males and asked it to do better next time.”
The Globe reported at the end of last month that Global Affairs is choosing two women to fill positions in Israel and in Great Britain, naming Deborah Lyons as Canada’s new ambassador to Israel and Janice Charette as the person to take the lead at Canada House.
The article also pointed out that Mr. Trudeau had told Global Affairs “its list of career candidates has too many white males and promised better representation in terms of gender and ethnicity.” Global Affairs would not confirm whether or not it had received these instructions from Mr. Trudeau, with Global Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion’s (Saint-Laurent, Que.) press secretary Chantal Gagnon saying she wasn’t going to answer that question. She also stressed that Ms. Charette and Ms. Lyons had not yet been officially appointed.
Speaking of official appointments, the Trudeau government will take its first crack at shuffling the foreign service this summer, anticipated in June or July.
Anne Leahy, a former Canadian ambassador, said she expects the announcements to come around the end of June. “I would watch [the announcement] because Justin Trudeau made a point of saying that he wanted more women, more diversity,” she said, adding that she “wouldn’t be surprised” to see that come to light. She said from her own experience, she expects anywhere from 10-15 new heads of mission to be appointed, if not more.
A source from Global Affairs told The Hill Times that the department will have more to say about diversity once the heads of mission shuffle happens, hinting that more diverse nominations might be coming.
The Hill Times counted the number of Canadian heads of mission posted abroad as of October 2015. The results showed that of the 134 heads of mission at the time, 90 were men and just 44 were women. That translates to 32 per cent heads of mission positions being held by women.