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Thursday, 29 May 2014

Are we any closer to gender parity in cabinet?

by Manon Tremblay and Daniel Stockemer

Manon Tremblay’s and Daniel Stockemer’s article, which appeared December 2013 in Canadian Public Administration, examines ministerial careers in federal, provincial, and territorial cabinets from 1921 to December 2010.

Three things to know about female ministers in Canada:

  1. Mary Ellen Smith was the first female minister in Canada and the Commonwealth; she was nominated to cabinet in British Columbia in 1921.
  2. Ellen Fairclough was the first female federal cabinet member. She was appointed by conservative Prime Minister John Diefenbaker at the junior position of secretary of State of Canada in 1957.
  3. 336 women have served as ministers at the federal or provincial level between 1921 and 2010. This number represents roughly 10 percent of the number of men, who served in any federal or provincial executive during the same time span.

Three myths about female ministers in Canada:

Myth #1: There is equal representation between the sexes in the federal and provincial executive branches.

The Reality: Despite the fact that women’s cabinet representation has increased from less than 5 percent in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s to 25 percent in 2010, currently, women still only occupy 1 out of 4 ministerial portfolios at the federal and provincial levels.

Myth #2: Women’s ministers have diversified their portfolios over the decades.

The Reality: Women’s assignments are still confined to so-called “pink portfolios” such as culture or education. Women are still literally absent from so-called “hard portfolios” such as finance or the economy.

Myth #3: Female ministers’ personal characteristics are different than male ministers’ characteristics.

The Reality: Similar to men, women parliamentarians at the provincial and federal level have the highest chances to be assigned to ministerial duties if they enter parliament for the first time at an early age (e.g. 30), have prior parliamentary experience  prior to their nomination and college, or better master’s, level education.

Daniel Stockemer is Assistant Professor at the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa. His research interests include political representation and participation. Prof. Stockemer has published over 40 articles in these and related areas

Manon Tremblay is a Full Professor at the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa.  Her research interests include gender and politics, as well as legislative politics. Prof. Tremblay has written or edited more than 20 books and numerous articles in her areas of research.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

What role does sexual orientation play in the public service?

By Gregory B. Lewis and Eddy Ng

Three things you need to know about GLBTQs (sexual minorities):

  1. GLBTQs are more likely than heterosexuals to prefer public and nonprofit sector employment.

  2. GLBTQ career goals and work values predict stronger desire for public and nonprofit sector jobs than heterosexuals.

  3. GLBTQs expect to pay a smaller penalty for working in the public and nonprofit sectors.

Three myths about GLBTQs:

Myth #1: GLBTQs might also avoid government jobs because they fear greater discrimination in the public sector, perhaps because of government’s history of explicit bans on employment of GLBTQs.

The Reality: In 1969, PM Trudeau decriminalized homosexual acts.  Today, GLBTQs are more likely than heterosexuals to prefer public and nonprofit employment, as they expect stronger protection from discrimination in the public sector.

Myth #2: GLBTQs are stereotypically hedonistic and are motivated by extrinsic rather than intrinsic rewards, and thus do not find public service to be attractive.

The Reality: GLBTQs are more likely to have the altruistic values that impel people toward government and nonprofit work, to list contributing to society as one of their top three early career goals, and to rate employers’ commitment to social responsibility and employee diversity highly in assessing first jobs.

Myth #3: Individuals who preferred government or nonprofit work expect to earn less than those headed to the private sector.

The Reality: Although straight men expect large pay penalties in both government and nonprofit jobs, and straight women expect small penalties, GBTQ men who prefer public or nonprofit employment do not expect to earn less than GBTQ men who prefer the private sector, and GLBTQ women only expect to pay a penalty in nonprofit jobs.

To learn more about this topic, see the authors' full-length study: "Sexual orientation, work values, pay, and preference for public and nonprofit employment: Evidence from Canadian postsecondary students." Canadian Public Administration 56(2): 542-564.

Gregory B. Lewis is a professor of public management and policy and the chair of the department in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University.  After receiving his doctorate in public administration at Syracuse University, he taught at the University of Georgia and American University before joining the faculty of the Andrew Young School.  He has published widely on the impact of sex, race, and sexual orientation on the career patterns of public employees.  His research on lesbian and gay rights includes several studies on public opinion, as well as work on the impact of government policies on the employment and pay of lesbians and gay men.

Eddy Ng is F.C. Manning Chair in Economics and Business, and Associate Professor of Management in the Rowe School of Business at Dalhousie University. His research focuses on managing diversity for organizational competitiveness, the changing nature of work and organizations, and managing the millennial workforce. His work has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and Canadian Studies grants. 

Thursday, 15 May 2014

How do we leverage diversity in the public service?

by Irfan Chaudhry

Photo: What’s your take on diversity in the workplace? In a recent blog post, Irfan Chaudhry tackles some of the myths and realities of diversity in the workplace as Canada increasingly becomes more multicultural. The bottom line is that diversity builds better companies and stronger communities. Whether you are “colour-blind” or simply uncomfortable talking about race, acknowledgement of this reality is the key to breaking down walls and starting to build solutions. To learn more and to join the conversation, visit the IPAC Impact Blog:

Three things you should know about diversity:

  1. Quite simply, this is how it’s going to be.  As Canada becomes more diverse and multicultural, (as it has done for the past 20 years, and will continue to do so), we as a collective need to embrace this new reality.

  2. Diversity builds better companies; stronger communities.  The more likely you are to interact with people from different backgrounds as yourself, the less likely you are to hold negative assumptions about them.  As simple as this equation is, more of us need to do a better job in doing this.  Embracing diversity builds better companies and stronger communities. 

  3. Challenge Resistance. As a collective, we have inherited a historical social context where race and ethnicity are taboo to discuss in a public setting.  Often times, people claim to be “colour-blind” and get uncomfortable when the topic of race comes up. For progress and change to happen, however, we need to get uncomfortable.

Three myths about diversity:

Myth #1:  Why does “X” group get special treatment?

Reality:   We have inherited a social history embedded with inequality (gender, race, ability, sexual orientation).  It’s not about giving one group preferential treatment over the other (in fact, this is what got us to this point in the first place!).  It’s not even about equality (“giving everyone a shoe”).  It’s about equity (“giving everyone a shoe that fits”).  

Myth #2:  “We want a workforce that is representative of our diverse community”. 

The Reality:  This has become a mantra for almost all municipal and provincial government departments in Canada, yet not much is progressing.  Just by saying you want to have a diverse workforce, does not mean this will automatically happen.  Often times, more emphasis is paid on lip service (i.e. we have a “Diversity and Inclusion” handbook) than the actual hard work needed to put this claim into action.  It is important that action plans and evaluation strategies are put in place (and actually acted on!) to ensure that our workforce (in all sectors) truly becomes representative of our diverse community.

Myth #3:  “I don’t see colour”.

The Reality:  This statement is concerning on a number of levels.  Either you really have a medical condition where you cannot see
colour (this probably should get checked out!), or you are ignoring a significant social characteristic and are assuming that thinking about race is a negative thing.  Whether we like it or not, race matters.  Due to our history with race (i.e. genocide, Jim Crow segregation laws, Residential schooling system, apartheid), we often only connect it with the negative and intertwine race and racism.  This is why people claim to not “see” race.  It has an ugly history.  (Think of it as your ugly and awkward junior high photo, which you know exists, but would rather not look back at).  By acknowledging this, however, we can start to breakdown resistance and start to build solutions.

Irfan Chaudhry is currently a sessional instructor at MacEwan University, Department of Sociology and a PhD Candidate (provisional) with the Department of Sociology, University of Alberta.  Irfan’s research on racist tweets in Canada were highlighted in Avenue Magazines annual top 40 Edmontonian’s under the age of 40 list, where he was featured as one of the top 40 recipients in 2013.    Irfan received an MA in Criminal Justice at the University of Alberta (Department of Sociology). Prior to returning to University to pursue a PhD in Criminology (focusing on race, racism and crime), Irfan held a number of positions with the City of Edmonton, including a Crime Analyst with the Edmonton Police Service, and more recently, as a Race Relations Specialist for the City of Edmonton, Aboriginal and Multicultural Relations Office. @RiffC

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Want to join the #IPAC2014 Twitter Army?

What is the #IPAC2014 Twitter Army?

The Twitter Army is a corps of volunteers and registered delegates dedicated to live-tweeting IPAC 2014.  Their collective objective is to connect conference delegates and external observers by reporting on developments at IPAC 2014, and igniting discussion through social media.

Twitter Army
Image: SC Magazine

What will the Live-Tweeters Do?

Live Tweeters will be present at all Thought Leader Cafes and ISD Sessions, communicating the details of the conversation to the Twittersphere.  Live-tweeters will also be present at all of the social events.  This will involve providing the highlights of the discussion, and connecting to online communities of interest through creative hashtagging. 

How can we participate in the Twitter Army?

While all of our volunteer slots are full, we’re more than happy to welcome conference delegates as part of our Twitter Army.  And you don't even have to be physically present at the conference to participate!  Simply use #IPAC2014 as your conference hashtag to take part in the discussions.  You can also subscribe to our #IPAC2014 Twitter Team list.  To join the list, please feel free to tweet: @CarleyHenniger.

How are we supposed to keep track of all of those tweets?

Our live-tweeters will be using the official conference hashtag: #IPAC2014.  Our Army Archivist will also be compiling top tweets in our Flipboard magazine and on Storify.  We will also be feeding the social media discussions into the formal program, with tweets being compiled for presentation as part of the Talk Show (June 3) and “Bringing it All Together” session (June 4).

Is the Army all about business?

We have some special fun planned for #IPAC2014, including a daily hashtag game (a la Jimmy Fallon).  Stay tuned for more details!

Do you have any tips for live-tweeting?

Our friend, Spydergrrl, is presently blogging about how to live-tweet a conference.  Check out her five-part weekly series (posted every Monday)!  For beginners, a “Getting Started” guide will be of interest, as will the official Twitter glossary.  Other novice resources include guides like this and this.  For intermediate and advanced Twitter users, there are plenty of tips and hacks guides.

What if we don’t use Twitter?

No problem!  If you’d like to learn, our Twitter Army volunteers would be happy to help you set up an account and learn how to tweet.  Simply visit our Social Media Kiosk (located in the Conversation Commons, Hall D, Shaw Conference Centre in the afternoons of June 2nd and 3rd).  And you can always follow all of the live-tweeting action at or on the website.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

What's limiting transformation in the public sector?

by Vik Maraj

Photo: Do you think the public sector could use to be transformed? What is limiting these changes? In a recent blog post, Vik Maraj looks at some of the barriers to transformation in government. For instance, the hierarchical paradigm that exists, representation, as well as reporting requirements and appearances. Has this been true from your experience? Is there anything that can be done to change this scenario? Visit the IPAC Impact Blog to join the conversation, and come see Vik as a Thought Leader at the IPAC Conference 2014 in Edmonton June 1-4, 2014! #IPAC2014

Vik will be a thought leader at #IPAC2014. To learn more visit:

Three things you should know about transforming the public sector:

  1. The public sector can’t shake the inherited paradigm of hierarchy. All iterations of government have been conceived inside a hierarchical paradigm of leadership; this forms a “lid” on people’s ability to say what matters and impairs effective decision-making due to a lack of quality and truthful information.

  2. The public sector ranks behind the Canadian workforce in representing the various types of people that comprise it.

  3. The degree of reporting required and restrictions on communication have led to a sensitivity to “looking bad” and “getting in trouble” that now dominate employees’ thoughts when they are about to communicate.

Three myths about transforming the public sector:

Myth #1: Good leaders need to tell more than they listen and are weak if they say, “I don’t know”. Ordering followers is synonymous with leadership.

The Reality: While a hierarchical mindset is appropriate for a crisis, it is woefully mismatched for an environment requiring stable, complex, and collaborative decision-making. Because of this mismatch, our public sector is now dealing with the inevitable fall out in the form of silos, grievance payouts, a lack of transparency, a lack of truth to power, risk aversion, and a lack of appeal to youth. All this happens in an environment where leaders and the people they lead are in a continuous survival mindset; this leaves very little room for creativity, innovation, or aliveness!

Myth #2: Different looking people from different places who have different abilities will infuse our governments with different thinking.

The Reality: At face value this is valid. However, if you look at the diversity that currently exists in the public sector (or anywhere) you might discover that the diversity that we currently have has not brought any real breakthroughs in the way we as a government “think”. Not that we should stop moving to a representative work force, just don’t think that we will be much better off in the way we think. Humans tend to think the same way, and regardless of ethnicity, gender, disability, or otherwise, most people will still think from, “I’m right, you’re wrong.”, “blame”, “fault”, and the ultimate default thinking of humanity - “I’m not responsible”. Until our energies go towards transforming the current condition of BEING human no amount of new “people” or program renewals will make any significant difference in thinking and, therefore, outcomes.

Myth #3: When someone screws up we better implement organization-wide policies to make sure no one repeats it. More forms to fill out and decreased authority levels is smart. More organizational control and reporting is the necessary knee-jerk reaction to big mistakes.

The Reality: This is the automatic response to all mistakes and it is why we are mired in layers of unnecessary process and red tape. It is akin to catching your son lying and instituting a family-wide policy that insists on two witnesses that corroborate whatever ANYONE says in the future – including the rest of the family that did not lie. It transcends absurdity. These responses are lazy remedies that get quick wins in the public eye and place more dead weight on our employees that limit what they are good at. And culture is at the source of all of this. Leaders must deal with themselves and the culture that they traffic in and perpetuate. Don’t blame the fish if they’re dying – look at the water, look at yourself. And no one does this personal transformative work better than Landmark Worldwide.

Vik Maraj consults on leadership and cultural transformation, is a Partner at Unstoppable Conversations, and a TEDx and International Speaker. His clients have ranged from the United Way to the United Nations; from the First Nations of Nunavut to the Government of Dubai. He has broken a deadlocked 4 Billion dollar international impasse on Carbon Capture and Sequestration and taught negotiation and hostage negotiation to the RCMP. And at the most human level, Vik has permanently and positively transformed the relationships, quality of life, and futures of communities, organizations, families. Find him on LinkedIn and Twitter (@vikmaraj).

Thursday, 1 May 2014

What does Government Communications look like in Canada?

by Ted Glenn

Photo: What does Government Communications look like in Canada? In a recent blog post by Ted Glenn, the topic of government communications is explored and a few common myths debunked. For instance, did you know that government communications is made up of twenty specific activities, including strategic communications planning, issues management, correspondence, and advertising? And that non-partisan staff actually make up a small proportion of Canada’s public servants (only 1.3% of full-time federal public servants, 1.6% of Ontario public servants, and 0.2% of City of Toronto public servants)? To learn more about government communications and to join the conversation, visit IPAC Impact Blog

Three things to know about government communications in Canada:

  1. Communications is a core management function that public organizations use to control the flow of information between themselves and their audiences.  It is made up of twenty specific activities, including strategic communications planning, issues management, correspondence, and advertising.

  2. Governments use communications in two ways:  procedurally, to influence the behaviour of individuals and groups within policy processes (i.e., Privy Council Office), and substantively, to affect how goods and services are produced and consumed (i.e., Toronto Transit Commission) (or some combination thereof [i.e., Health Canada]).  The specific kind and exact mix of instrumentation used by any one department is determined by that department’s mandate and overall role in government.

  3. Communications is a highly centralized – and centralizing – function in Canadian government due to the dominance of our political executives and the partisanship that emanates from our party system.  These factors can facilitate the abuse of communications in Canadian government and drags it at times into the “swampy zone” that exists between “information and propaganda and between public and partisan interests.”

Three misconceptions about government communications in Canada:

Myth #1: A large proportion of public servants are dedicated to communications work.

The Reality: Non-partisan staff in communications divisions make up a surprisingly small proportion of Canada’s public servants: only 1.3% of full-time federal public servants, 1.6% of Ontario public servants, and 0.2% of City of Toronto public servants work in communications.

Myth #2: Ministerial staff work mostly on politics and policy.

The Reality: Partisan staff make up almost one quarter of all staff working in federal and Ontario ministerial offices – a relatively high proportion justified by the central spokesperson responsibilities of Canadian ministers.

Myth #3: Governments spend a large proportion of their budgets on advertising campaigns and other citizen communications.

The Reality: Despite the ubiquity of government communications these days, the federal government only spent $275M on “Information” out of a total budget of $270.5B and the Ontario government $11M on advertising out of a total budget of $125B.

To read more about this topic, see:  Ted Glenn.  "The management and administration of government communications in Canada." Canadian Public Administration 57(1): 3-25.

Ted Glenn is Professor and Program Coordinator of the graduate certificate program in public administration at the Humber College in Toronto, Canada.  Ted has expertise in public sector governance and technical vocational education and training (TVET).  He has published on public sector communications, talent management, executive decision-making and legislative management and administration.  In addition, Ted has worked in Bangladesh, Bermuda, Bhutan, Mexico and Tanzania on a variety of TVET projects dealing with needs assessment and curriculum development/delivery, TVET policy and capacity-building, program monitoring and evaluation, and organizational change.  Ted earned a Ph.D. in public policy and administration at Queen’s University, an MA in public law and policy at the University of Calgary, and a Bachelor’s Degree in political science from the University of Alberta.