Employment equity and diversity: Listening to the concerns

Invictus games ceremony
By combining employment equity and diversity, 2nd Canadian Division and Joint Task Force East have focused on maximizing career potential and operational readiness for both military and civilian personnel. This is the second in our series of three articles highlighting 2 Cdn Div/JTF (E) efforts and achievements on employment equity, diversity and inclusion. Photo: Cpl Jean-Roch Chabot, CFJIC

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In part one, we mentioned the Diversité+ committee, made up of regular and reserve military personnel as well as civilians to bring together the different aspects of diversity in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF): Women, Visible Minorities, People with Disabilities, Aboriginal Peoples, Religion and Spirituality, and LGBTQ2+.

The mission of the Diversité+ committee is to hear the concerns of CAF members from minority communities in order to make them known to the chain of command, and to respond to these concerns as appropriately as possible. The committee’s main goal is to improve the quality of life at work through these key concepts: equity, diversity, and inclusion. Their ultimate objective is to maximize career potential and staff readiness.

Beyond this approach, the Diversité+ committee also makes recommendations to educate, develop and support all members of 2nd Canadian Division and Joint Task Force East.

Equity is an essential legislative requirement that encapsulates equal opportunities and the power to exercise one’s profession, offered impartially to everyone. More broadly, no one can be denied opportunities or employment for reasons unrelated to their competencies.

For example, in 2017, 90 athletes (all serving military members or veterans) who had suffered an injury or illness directly related to their military service joined Team Canada for the third edition of the Invictus Games in Toronto. Many of them were from 2 Cdn Div/JTF (E). It is important to note that this integration activity for members with disabilities is now an annual event.

In addition, several CAF members are involved in a project titled “Tous pour un Kili” to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with injured military members.

Diversity has an even broader meaning; it refers to respecting differences in ethnicity, gender, age, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, level of education, and religion.

The Diversité+ group has initiated many activities and events in this context. For instance, National Aboriginal Day was organized with the support of Maison amérindienne. It raised awareness of Aboriginal culture among military personnel by inviting them to enjoy a typical First Nations meal. It was also a great opportunity for everyone to learn more about the importance of the customs and traditions of minorities.

In another highlight, the CAF participated for the first time in the Montreal Pride Parade in August 2017. Members of the public hailed and applauded all along the route as CAF members walked along with the parade.

Inclusion, in turn, is about integration, and more generally about interpersonal relationships and people’s ability to socialize within their professional environment.

To this effect, several awareness sessions on diversity and inclusion with a focus on people with disabilities were organized in 2017. In the same spirit, members of 2 Cdn Div/JTF (E) participated in parades in various cultural communities, and the visible minority newspaper was reintroduced due to significant demand. In another development, the facilities at St-Jean garrison were modified to install a gender-neutral bathroom.

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