2020 National Gender and Harassment Advisory Committee - Annual Report
The implementation of Gender and Harassment Advisory Committees (GHACs) across the RCMP was one of the change initiatives agreed to by the RCMP in the Merlo and Davidson v. Canada settlement agreement. The settlement agreement was approved by the courts on May 30, 2017. One committee in each of the 16 RCMP Divisions, and one National committee, were established to serve as an internal advice-giving forum to Divisional Commanding Officers and the Commissioner on matters related to gender, sexual orientation, harassment, equity and inclusivity, all working to build on the RCMP's efforts towards eliminating harassment and discrimination from the workplace. The Committees were formed to reflect a diversity of identities and experiences to help encourage active discourse from a variety of perspectives.
The National Gender and Harassment Advisory Committee (NGHAC), which is chaired by the Commissioner, reviews the recommendations submitted by the Divisional Committees. The National Committee will produce a publicly-available Annual Report containing the recommendations made to the RCMP, and the RCMP will issue a response to the Committee recommendations.
Committee discussions and recommendations
The majority of Divisional Committees have continued to meet in accordance with the Merlo-Davidson obligations. However, it is clear that several Divisions are struggling with capacity to engage employees in the various Divisional committees that exist. Some Divisions have several committees that relate to different aspects of diversity and inclusion. In many cases, it is the same people around these different – but related – tables. All Divisions continue to have at least one committee devoted to issues of equity and inclusivity.
Divisional GHAC meetings took place between January and December 2019. Divisional Committees explored a range of issues over the past year, including: culture change; allyship; initiatives related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit (LGBTQ2) populations; reconciliation; safe space; and harassment.
Recommendations to the NGHAC varied, however there were two key recommendations reported across several Divisions:
- The need to better connect the NGHAC and Divisional GHACs:
- Some Committees are seeking guidance from the NGHAC on next steps
- Some are seeking a forum for all Committees to be aware of respective activities and priorities, and to share best practices or key tools and resources that might be helpful in informing work
- Adopting a more centralized approach to addressing issues of diversity and inclusion. This recommendation stems from the fact that some Divisions are looking to work more efficiently, given current challenges in maintaining multiple committees addressing different aspects of diversity and inclusion.
Other key recommendations from individual Committees include:
- Considering changes to the recruiting section of the RCMP website to make content more appealing, especially to women (e.g., simplified process to register for career presentations, a survey upon exit, an "ask a recruiter" section, and videos of women in diverse policing roles)
- Considering the training needs of employees, including issues related to:
- Providing equal access to training and resources for everyone
- Ensuring individual accountability to complete relevant training
- Suggesting improvements to the mandatory harassment training for all employees (e.g., to be taken regularly, includes scenarios and role-playing, promotes communication at the lowest level possible, distinguishes conflict from harassment).
The NGHAC Secretariat has shared all recommendations with relevant units and policy centres for consideration.
In 2019/20, support for the NGHAC migrated to the RCMP's new Action, Innovation and Modernization (AIM) Office, which absorbed some staff and responsibilities of the former Workplace Culture and Employee Engagement unit. AIM was established in May 2019 to support the Commissioner's mandate to modernize and reform the culture of the RCMP. AIM works with other areas of the organization to identify and address systemic barriers that inhibit meaningful change, including in policy and practice. Supporting initiatives that help to foster an inclusive culture is central to AIM's efforts.
The NGHAC met three times between April 2019 and March 2020. Two conference calls were held (September and December 2019) without the Commissioner, led by AIM. Discussions focused largely on engaging NGHAC members on the development of the new RCMP Guide to Supporting Transgender, Non-Binary and Two-Spirit Employees (anticipated for release in 2020) as well as on the concept of Character-Based Leadership (CBL). The RCMP is currently implementing CBL to ensure that employee character, including people-centred skills, is valued, developed and assessed alongside their competencies.
One face-to-face NGHAC meeting was held in Ottawa on February 13, 2020, which was chaired by the Commissioner. As an additional learning opportunity, AIM invited and covered the costs of Committee members to also attend the conference of the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI), which was held in Ottawa the day before the NGHAC meeting. Three members attended the conference.
The face-to-face meeting largely served to take stock of how well things are working, refresh the focus and role of the Committee through enhanced opportunities for engagement in key areas, and identify the most effective way to move forward. During the meeting, Committee members shared key points of interest learned from the previous day's CCDI conference and raised key issues of concern with the Commissioner through a question and answer session. Members were also engaged through presentations from the RCMP's Member Labour Relations section, Learning and Development section, and the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Unit. Presentation topics included: unionization and implications for the harassment process; continued discussion on CBL and potential roles that Committee members could play; and equity, diversity and inclusion in the RCMP.
The Committee dedicated time during the face-to-face meeting to discuss priorities. Specifically, the Committee agreed to explore future opportunities to:
- Support work related to CBL
- Support efforts to review and analyze exit interviews
- Feed into key aspects of recruitment modernization
- Support efforts related to harassment, following the release of the Justice Bastarache report, anticipated for Spring/Summer 2020
Additionally, Committee members discussed the importance of ensuring continued learning opportunities for Committee members, including through:
- Accessing knowledge and expertise of the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI), including training, webinars or other learning events. The RCMP is a partner of the CCDI and has access to free webinars and discounts for other learning resources.
- Exploring being trained as Canadian Certified Inclusion Professionals through the CCDI.
- Inviting experts (internal or external to RCMP) to come train or present to the Committee (e.g., have CCDI give the cultural competencies test to the Committee).
- Where feasible, joining other committees of diverse subject areas that would help to inform discussions among the NGHAC.
Keeping in mind the two common issues raised by the Divisional Committees (i.e., better connecting the Divisional and National Committees, and considering a centralized engagement model), the structure and strategic focus of the NGHAC was also discussed during the face-to-face meeting. Consideration was given to how to maximize the engagement of a core group of RCMP employees already involved in equity, diversity and inclusion work through existing national committees, namely the NGHAC and the National Council on Diversity and Inclusion.
Discussions will continue in the coming year to ensure an effective approach to equity, diversity and inclusion efforts aligned with the obligations of the Merlo-Davidson Final Settlement Agreement. As the approach is defined, efforts will be made to enhance connections between Divisional and National Committees, including through creating virtual forums (e.g., GCconnex) to share information on current activities, best practices, effective resources, and to enable dialogue across Committees. Such forums would also provide a space to ensure that Divisional Committees are aware of activities of the National Committee, which could help to encourage alignment or complementarity of actions across Committees, where appropriate.
Finally, NGHAC members continue to participate in the evaluation committee for the Troop 17 Scholarship. Scholarship winners will be announced on September 30, 2020. Members will also help to support the selection process to fill vacancies in Divisional GHACs.
RCMP response to Committee recommendations
The RCMP thanks Committee members for their efforts and contributions to help create a more inclusive and harassment-free workplace.
In line with the RCMP Commissioner's mandate, the RCMP remains committed to its transformation, including modernizing and reforming its culture. Related to this, the RCMP continues to address the recommendations of the 2017 report of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP. Further to the Response to Report on Workplace Harassment in the RCMP and the Review of Four Case of Civil Litigation against the RCMP on Workplace Harassment, many initiatives are currently underway to help achieve the RCMP's goals related to modernization. The themes presented within the Response – governance, harassment resolution and prevention, leadership development and professionalization, and diversity and inclusion – remain critical elements as efforts move forward. The Gender and Harassment Advisory Committees can play an important role in continuing to provide advice on what is needed for this transformation to an inclusive, healthy and harassment-free RCMP.
In particular, the RCMP will continue to engage the NGHAC on upcoming efforts improve the RCMP harassment regime to ensure it is trusted, timely and effective. Work to examine the most effective model is ongoing, in consultation with the RCMP Management Advisory Board.
Regarding Divisional Committee recommendations, those related to recruitment and training have been shared with relevant sections for consideration. An effective and inclusive recruitment process is critical to the RCMP's modernization; there are several recruitment initiatives being pursued to enhance current efforts. Issues related to training have also been shared with both the Learning and Development section as well as the Subject-Matter Experts in relevant areas, as appropriate.
In the context of RCMP modernization under Vision150, it is a key time to take stock of how well Committees are working and whether any change of direction or approach is needed. The two key recommendations put forward by several Divisional Committees touch directly on this.
The RCMP acknowledges the recommendation to consider a centralized approach to equity, diversity and inclusion activities. Divisional Committees may consider this approach, keeping in mind that the continued adherence to the obligations set out in the Merlo-Davidson Final Settlement Agreement. The NGHAC has had an initial discussion on the best way forward at the national level, including how to leverage and align with the efforts of the National Council on Diversity and Inclusion to more effectively advance equity, diversity and inclusion in the RCMP. Discussions on this will continue in 2020/21.
The RCMP also recognizes another key recommendation to enhance connections between Divisional and National Committees. In response, the NGHAC Secretariat is in the process of establishing virtual forums to better connect Committees, share information on activities and resources, and create opportunities for dialogue. The Secretariat will consult with Divisional Committees over time to ensure these forums are useful and relevant. As a more centralized approach is explored, this may also provide opportunities for enhanced communication and connection between the divisional and national level.
As work progresses in 2020/21, the RCMP will continue to engage the NGHAC on key initiatives that contribute to culture change and an inclusive, harassment-free workplace.
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