CBC/Radio-Canada reaffirms commitment to diversity and inclusion

CBC/Radio-Canada says it has exceeded goals to hire more Indigenous peoples, visible minorities, and persons with disabilities.

'For me, the joke (growing up) was it's the Caucasian Broadcasting Corporation,' says Kim's Convenience star

Kim's Convenience star Paul Sun-Hyung Lee poses backstage at the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto in March. Lee lauded CBC's diversity hiring targets in a panel discussion Tuesday. (Peter Power/The Canadian Press)

CBC/Radio-Canada says it has exceeded its goals to hire more Indigenous peoples, visible minorities, and persons with

The public broadcaster says the groups represented 27.2 per cent of new hires between April 1 and June 30, which surpasses its target of 25.4 per cent. The CBC did not say how many people those numbers represented.

The CBC says it has also already reached its goal of 2.1 per cent Indigenous representation, initially set for 2020, and that 48.9 per cent of employees are women.

Gains have been significant in recent years — the CBC says the number of visible minorities and persons with disabilities increased by more than 40 per cent between April 2015 and 2018.

A spokesman said the total number of employees as of April 1 was 7,588.

The data was announced as CBC/Radio-Canada held its annual public meeting in Edmonton, when the broadcaster also released a three-year strategy to better reflect a range of perspectives in its content, workplace culture and staff.

The 2018-21 diversity and inclusion plan includes a recently launched pilot program that offers paid placements to persons with disabilities in Toronto. If successful, the pilot would be expanded to a national program next year.

Developing diverse future leaders

Other objectives include a focus on developing diverse future leaders and retaining diverse staff.

Catherine Tait, CBC/Radio-Canada's president and CEO, said the broadcaster wants to "make sure all Canadians are heard on our airwaves."

The presentation, which was live-streamed online, featured a panel discussion including Kim's Convenience star Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, ICI Manitoba journalist Patricia Bitu Tshikudi and Indigenous physician and community advisor Dr. James Makokis.

"I never once thought in a million years I'd be the lead on a television series on a public broadcaster," said Lee.

"For me, the joke (growing up) was it's the Caucasian Broadcasting Corporation because I never saw my family reflected up there.

"And so I'm so proud now that our show is not only just a Korean-Canadian comedy, it is the Canadian comedy that everybody is relating to."

Lee said representation matters.

"When you watch shows that reflect a culture that you're not part of, what happens is you start to believe that your culture isn't as important. That your stories don't matter."

CBC says measures to increase the diversity of Radio-Canada's news staff include a revamped hiring process that removed "potential obstacles for diverse candidates" in the general knowledge and language proficiency exams.

That included questions related to historical knowledge that was not relevant to current situations and acronyms in the French exam that would be misleading in an international context.

The CBC says it has also added gender and sexual diversity to its voluntary workforce tracking metrics.