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Employment Equity and Respectful Workplace Policies

by Anne Bishop,

I taught the mandatory Diversity and Employment Equity course for Provincial government employees from 2006 to 2011. The course was developed to signal the importance of equity issues within government, open up conversation and teach respectful language for it, and introduce the Employment Equity and Respectful Workplace Policies, which were state of the art. The course was desperately needed, along with much more effort to implement those good policies. When I consolidated my notes later, I discovered that one out of five sessions was taken over by unabashed bigotry and many of my lunch breaks involved civil servants from marginalized groups telling me their harrowing stories. I don't know if the course is still offered today, but please don't forget that you already have, or had, these policies, a plan for implementing them and a sound educational approach to making employees aware of them. Look at what is being done in other jurisdictions – are these policies still state of the art? Revisit them, update them, work out a plan to continue implementing them, restart them if they have stalled and, above all, listen to the civil servants you currently have from underrepresented groups and find and interview the many you have lost through the "revolving door" of internal mistreatment. I'm glad to see this work happening. Thank you.

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