Indigenous Workforce Survey

1 minute read

As Canada seeks to reconcile and renew its nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples, the importance of having Indigenous employees in the federal workplace cannot be under estimated – particularly within those departments that are expected to lead the transformation. For Canadian public services, understanding their Indigenous workforce needs and investing in attracting, retaining and developing Indigenous employees will contribute to resetting and developing trust and positive working relations between the nations.  

It was within this backdrop that the Institute on Governance, along with Quorus Consulting Group, undertook, in the spring of 2017, a first of its kind engagement with both current and former Indigenous employees of the federal public service. In total, approximately 2,200 former and current Indigenous employees were consulted through an online survey and four in-person dialogue circles.  

The results of this engagement initiative indicate that Indigenous employees do not feel well-supported, beginning with the recruitment process and continuing throughout their career.  They feel isolated and adrift in a large bureaucracy where they feel on the defensive – forced to challenge predominantly held stereotypes about Indigenous people and enlighten their colleagues. It is also clear that many feel that self-identifying as Indigenous is a barrier to advancement with the public service. Those engaged in this process indicate a desire for more supports to help Indigenous employees advance into more senior levels in the federal government.

At the IOG, over the past 25 years, we have developed an Indigenous Governance practice.  We recognize that the challenges facing Indigenous people in our society are complex and require a multi-pronged approach. That is why we focus on supporting Indigenous people and communities in achieving self-determination through the following initiatives:

  • holding national events that bring together the critical players to identify requirements in moving towards a true nation-to-nation relationship, (Click here for more information)
  • undertaking research to identify new approaches to determining appropriate funding levels that are comparable to what non-Indigenous Canadians receive,
  • helping to develop governance capacity at the community level to fully achieve self-determination,
  • training to educate public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples focusing on developing intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism,
  • providing leadership development programs for Indigenous employees.

About the author

Jennifer Smith

Jennifer Smith

Senior Associate

Jennifer Smith has over 20 years direct consulting and research experience as a senior advisor in organizational assessment; business/organizational renewal, talent management and transformation initiatives in the public, not-for-profit and private sectors. She also has a recognized expertise in risk-based and results based management and reporting on results and communicating value added. She has worked for a variety of organizations most recently as President of Intergage Consulting Group Inc.

She has a wealth of experience in working with and coaching senior leadership teams in planning for the future and dealing with change in a timely and holistic way; engaging stakeholders at all levels of the organization and externally to inform transformations; and monitoring and reporting on results. Jennifer is a strong believer in the philosophy that “employees support what they help to create” and grounds her change management approach in both the critical work of John Kotter in helping organizations effectively manage and accelerate change and Prosci’s ADKAR model of individual change and capacity development. She has extensive experience consulting with and engaging key stakeholders, employees and unions to inform decision-making and provide input to renewal and business/organizational transformation initiatives. She is a recognized expert in group facilitation.

Jennifer holds a Master of Arts, Public Administration from Carleton University. She is a Certified Management Consultant and Credentialed Evaluator with the Canadian Evaluation Society.