Disaggregated Data and Self-Identification

As a public servant you are no doubt aware of the Employment Equity Act which requires that federal jurisdiction employers take proactive measures to increase the workplace representation of four designated groups: Indigenous people, people with disabilities, visible minorities (VM) and women.

In order to measure progress on the programs it puts in place, the Government of Canada collects and analyzes hiring, promotion, selection process, survey response and other data for these designated groups. If you self-identify as belonging to the VM group and apply for a public service job or fill out a survey, the government uses the associated data for statistical analysis and employment equity human resources planning. However, the visible minority grouping obscures the experience of Black federal employees.

To better realize the objectives of the Act, FBEC advocates that VM data be collected and broken down by ethnicity/race or “disaggregated”. Disaggregating data can reveal patterns masked by grouping data at a high level. For instance, anecdotal evidence from Black public servants suggests that they experience harassment at a higher rate than their counterparts. By collecting and analyzing disaggregated data the government can target programming to where it is needed.

Treating human resources data in this way is not new. Statistics Canada already collects labour market data this way and the US, Britain and New Zealand collect and publish disaggregated data about their respective public service workforces.

But in order for the disaggregated data to be meaningful you must Self-identify and Be Counted!

Public Service Employee Survey

The Public Service Employee Survey (PSES) is a comprehensive survey measuring federal government employees’ opinions about their engagement, leadership, workforce, workplace, workplace well-being and compensation. The PSES is one of the main data sources the government uses to guide human resource policy.

Survey results are reported as aggregate information which protects employees from being identified. In cases where the survey may result in a small number of people being represented (that could inadvertently identify or be used to identify an individual), those survey results are combined with the results of other groups in order to eliminate the possibility of identifying any individual employee.

To ensure the government has the most complete picture of the experience of Black federal employees, it’s crucial that as many Black employees as possible fill out the survey and self-identify.

Spread the word: Stand up and be counted!

Mental Health

Race is a key determinant of an individual’s psychological well-being. Accordingly, FBEC is calling for the Government’s recognition of the impact of systemic and individual acts of racism on stress and anxiety for persons of colour, through:

  • Provision of education and training for management to foster awareness and better equip to address all forms of racism including microaggressions in the workplace.
  • Collection and reporting of disaggregated data (e.g. number of self-identified persons or African descent using Employee Assistance Program, Sick Leave etc.) to better understand uptake of mental health services and identify opportunities to enhance reach.

These objectives are in line with recommendations that were recently issued by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in its recent report on systemic racism (entitled, Taking Action Against Systemic Racism and Religious Discrimination Including Islamophobia), which noted need for improved awareness and training on racism within the federal public service.

Mental health support links: