Talent Canada
Talent Canada

Features Diversity & Inclusion
Lack of data analysis hinders equity and inclusion efforts in federal agencies: Auditor general

Avatar photo

October 19, 2023
By Talent Canada

Photo: Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

While federal organizations like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) have established equity, diversity, and inclusion plans, they’re not measuring or comprehensively reporting on progress against outcomes for racialized employees, according to a report by Auditor General Karen Hogan.

Hogan was reviewing six organizations — RCMP, CBSA, Correctional Services Canada, the Department of Justice Canada, Public Safety Canada, and the Public Prosecution Service of Canada — and reached the same conclusion for all of them.

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

“As a result, they did not know whether their actions had made or would make a difference in the experiences of their racialized employees in the workplace,” a press release issued by the Office of the Auditor General read.


The review found that all six organizations should be using the available data better in order to understand barriers and to inform equity and inclusion strategies.

“Practices for analyzing disaggregated data were mixed across the 6 organizations. For example, none examined the distribution of performance assessment ratings for racialized employees, and only some examined promotion rates,” it said. “Not using data to understand the lived experiences of racialized employees at work means that organizations and, potentially, the public service as a whole are missing opportunities to identify and implement improvements.”

Tying DEI to performance

The audit was also critical of the organizations for not always using performance agreements for executives, managers, and supervisors to set expectations for desired behaviours. It noted that 39% to 57% of performance agreements for non-executive managers at four organizations included objectives related to equity, diversity, and inclusion. CBSA (79%) and Correctional Services Canada (89%) scored better using this metric.

“Racialized employees who volunteered to be interviewed as part of this audit, expressed that they perceived a lack of true commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion and had the impression that meaningful change was not being achieved,” it said.

The report found that, as of 2022, one in five employees of Canada’s core public administration identified as a member of a visible minority.

Source: Office of the Auditor General


The auditor general made a number of recommendations coming out of data. First, it said the Treasury Board Secretariat should provide guidance and share best practices to help organizations establish performance indicators to measure and report on equity and inclusion outcomes.

Second, it called on all six organizations to undertake data-informed analysis to understand how racialized employees experience their workplace in comparison to other workers.

“By using quantitative data together with qualitative data, such as the lived experiences of racialized employees and other designated groups, organizations should take concrete and measurable actions to correct situations of employment disadvantage,” it said.

Third, it noted that each of the six organizations, and the Treasury Board Secretariat, should establish expected behaviours needed for an anti-racist and inclusive work environment — and against which performance should be assessed for employees.

“These behaviours should be aligned with specific equity and inclusion outcome indicators and the performance measurement frameworks,” it said.



Print this page


Stories continue below