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Strategy to boost diversity, inclusion in B.C.’s public sector lacking effectiveness: report

Michael Pickup says B.C.’s public service should reflect population at-large

A strategy designed to ensure that the government’s workforce reflects B.C.’s population runs the risk of failing.

That is the conclusion emerging from an audit of the diversity and inclusion strategy, which the Public Service Agency launched in 2021.

“Diversity and inclusion have real meaning and value to people,” Michael Pickup, B.C.’s auditor general said, when he presented his findings earlier this month at the provincial legislature.

“Everyone in B.C. should see themselves reflected in the public service.”

However, available B.C. statistics from 2020 show that may not be the case.

While Indigenous People make up 5.6 per cent of the available workforce, they make up 4.6 per cent of the public service sector.

Meanwhile, racialized people account for 30.3 per cent of the provincial population but are underrepresented at 20.5 per cent of government agency workers.

People with disabilities represent 11 per cent of B.C.’s workforce and almost 25 per cent of the population, but make up less than seven per cent of the public sector.

PSA launched the three-year-long strategy titled Where We All Belong in March 2021 to ensure the public service reflects the B.C. population and is inclusive.

Pickup’s office audited the strategy’s governance from Jan. 1, 2018 to Nov. 4, 2022, with the intention of determing if the PSA had created robust structures to support the strategy.

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“We found there were some important elements missing that, if in place, would give the strategy a better chance of achieving its important goals for diversity and inclusion,” Pickup said.

Missing elements include data analysis and specific targets for recruitment, according to the audit.

“These missing aspects matter when the work is spread across a large workforce that is divided among multiple ministries,” Pickup said. “Not having these supports in place doesn’t mean necessarily that the work isn’t happening, but it could mean that it is not happening consistently or that work won’t be complete before the strategy ends in 2024.”

The report made seven recommendations – all of which the PSA has accepted – including the development of recruitment targets.

“This is an important topic for everyone and it’s close to my heart on a personal and professional level as the first Indigenous auditor-general in Canada and the first auditor-general from the LGBTQ2S+ community,” Pickup said.


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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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