Lack of Inclusion for LGBTQ+ People in Government

Written on 05/26/2021
Staff Columnist

A new report shows the treatment of LGBTQ+ people within federal departments and found there isn't much of a game plan for inclusion – CTV News reports.

The report by LGBT Purge Fund was released on International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia, and it looked at federal departments within the last year. Advocacy groups collaborated to interview and evaluate the RCMP, The Department of National Defense, the Canadian Armed Forces, Canada Revenue Agency and more.

"Since the LGBT Purge, we have come a long way towards building inclusive federal workplaces, but it will take coordinated, deliberate, and effective efforts to promote sustainable culture change and foster truly inclusive workplaces across the Government of Canada," Michelle Douglas, Executive Director of the LGBT Purge Fund, said in a press release.

There are 23 recommendations on the report for how federal departments can improve their inclusion and equity – with a key focus on consulting with LGBTQ+ employees, stakeholders, and external experts to review each organization's policy.

Another recommendation is for departments to focus on specific issues that affect each diverse group within the LGBTQ+ community.

In a statement, the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, Bardish Chaggar said, "[The government] is committed to improving equity for LGBTQ2 communities through the promotion of human rights and the development of inclusive federal policies, programs, and laws."

"We look forward to reviewing the recommendations and working together to create an even more diverse, inclusive, and safe workplace for all," Chaggar added.

The report also stated there were strengths in some departments, such as employee groups dedicated to getting input from LGBTQ+ workers, training on LGBTQ+ issues, attempts to make transgender employees feel supported while transitioning at work.

However, it still showcased multiple areas where improvement is needed. "All participating federal entities appear to be lacking a clear and specific [equity, diversity and inclusion] strategy or explicit goals in support of LGBTQI2S people in federal service," the report says.

Gaps were found in having trans-positive policies, resources and support for LGBTQ+ employees and a lack of representation/reduced bias in the recruitment process.

As for discrimination, many workplaces didn't have the resources to properly track LGBTQ2S+ harassment.

Many openly queer employees felt that their openness affected their careers. The report named Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship as a workplace where "data suggests the possible existence of bias in career advancement processes" for LGBTQ2S+ employees.

According to the report, the RCMP had a "lack of policies made available for review." It did have a comprehensive guide on how to support trans, non-binary and two-spirit employees, but the report said, "it is important that symbolic gestures such as social media communications and the inclusion of rainbow symbols at RCMP sites be backed up by actions in the workplace itself."

The Department of National Defence (DND) is the place that needs the most work, with the fewest policies put in place for LGBTQ+ inclusivity and safety.

Across the various departments, "policies themselves often do not include specific LGBTQI2S consideration," the report said. "This was particularly clear within benefits, leave, and hiring policies."

Policies like parental leave are differentiated by the "assigned sex of the parent," and healthcare coverage varied for specific gender-affirming procedures but not others.

"We saw a general lack of knowledge within senior management and HR professionals on how benefits and leave policies apply to LGBTQI2S individuals and families," the report says.

"Overall, we saw that many federal entities are taking steps toward improving LGBTQI2S EDI, and there is generally a willingness to improve workplace inclusion for LGBTQI2S people within the federal workplace," the report continues.

"However, efforts are not always consistent across the participating bodies, and there remains significant work to be done. Thus far, much of the work to improve inclusive practices for LGBTQI2S people is coming from the victims of this discrimination themselves, and often on a voluntary basis. It is essential that the government take a proactive approach moving forward so that it can truly reconcile the harm caused to LGBTQI2S communities and move beyond the Purge," it concludes.

(Image Credit: IMD)