Canada's national housing agency has publicly acknowledged its lack of diversity and pledged to eliminate discrimination moving forward.
Despite being recognized as one of Canada's most-diverse employers, Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC) said Friday it hasn't done "nearly enough" to highlight racism against Black people as well as discrimination against Indigenous persons, people of colour, women, LGBTQ2+ and other groups.
This comes on the heels of anti-Black racism demonstrations held across the US and in Canada following the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed in Minneapolis last week by a police officer who had pinned him down with his knee on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes.
"We must all stand together with our Black co-workers and the victims of murder, oppression and the systemic racism that exists everywhere," the agency said in a statement.
According to CMHC, Black people make up 3.5% of Canada's population and 5.2% of CMHC employees. What's more, those who are Indigenous amount to 4.9% of the national population but just 2.4% of the CMHC workforce.
"At CMHC, we would once have congratulated ourselves for our diversity," said the agency, adding, "This is however no achievement when too few of our people leaders are Black or Indigenous — none among senior management. And diversity isn’t enough: it’s where we start."
The agency said racism has been "built up and reinforced for centuries, whether against Black, Indigenous people or people of colour. Only a sustained and focused effort will eliminate it."
For its part, CMHC says it will start its own journey by committing to the following:
- Supports — We will work with CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals and similar organizations elsewhere in Canada to secure stronger support for our Black colleagues;
- Conversation — We will work with Monumental, a new initiative to promote fairness, justice and an equitable recovery, in supporting our commitment to a continuing conversation;
- Accountability — We already will measure and publish targets for representation of Indigenous persons and people of colour; we will add targets for Black and racialized people among our people leaders and senior management;
- Policy Review — We will re-assess all of our policies and practices through a racialized lens to eliminate discrimination, specifically including the following with the help of those with lived experience:
- ensuring the enforcement of the anti-racism standards in our Code of Conduct,
- proactive use our programs (including NHS initiatives) specifically to help Black and racialized Canadians; and
- help ensure that Black and racialized people have equal access as tenants in CMHC-funded buildings and recourse against discriminatory landlords.
- Mental Health — Reinforce our support for the unique mental health of Black and racialized colleagues — ensuring that they receive counselling from people who are similarly affected;
- HR Practices — We will involve people with lived experience of racism in a re-assessment of both our recruiting, evaluation and promotion processes and our Diversity and Inclusion efforts to eliminate barriers to Black and racialized colleagues;
- Training — We will (a) offer leadership training and professional development to support the progress of Black and racialized employees at CMHC and (b) provide mandatory anti-racism training for all staff; and
- Atonement — We reject racism, white supremacy and wish to atone for our past racism and insensitivity, including our role in funding the forced resettlement of Black people, most notably from Halifax’s historic Africville and Hogan’s Alley in Vancouver.
"Racism has been built up and reinforced for centuries, whether against Black, Indigenous people or people of colour. Only a sustained and focused effort will eliminate it," said the agency.