Proposed Cape Breton Regional Municipality policy aims to advance diversity in workplace

The Cape Breton Post

Sydney, N.S. — The first proposed employment equity policy for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality will be used as a tool to advance “diversity and competence” in its workforce, while attempting to figure out why more visible minorities don’t apply for jobs with the municipality.

The policy will “identify and remove systemic, cultural, attitudinal and behavioural barriers” to employment and advancement and will result in a workforce where “designated groups are equitably represented.”

Those groups include women, visible minorities, aboriginals and persons with disabilities.

Scott Thomas, hired last year as the CBRM’s first diversity officer, prepared the policy with the assistance of union and non-union municipal employees.

“This policy is something that has teeth,” said Thomas, in presenting the document to CBRM’s committee of the whole, Tuesday.

Both federal and provincial departments of labour, and the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, gave the document their endorsements.

Job postings by the CBRM will include a statement that the municipality values diversity in its workforce. Applicants will have the option of filling out a self-identification questionnaire upon applying for a position.

According to the policy, if an applicant has identified themselves as a minority the recruiter “must notify the diversity officer who will help with understanding of designated groups.”

The questionnaire will form part of the recruitment and selection documentation relevant in deciding who’s most qualified to fill a position.

Over the next two years an estimated 40,000 people in Nova Scotia plan to leave the workforce, creating a sizable shortage of skilled workers, Thomas said.

“Given stats only 20,000 are able to take over. That leaves a shortfall, even with outmigration, of 50 per cent,” he said.

“For the first time we’re going to be looking at the underrepresented groups. This policy will talk to newcomers, this policy will talk to the fact that we will see more individuals with accommodation needs.”

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