Still too few visible minorities in Quebec's public sector, data suggests

A Radio-Canada analysis finds that 25,000 visible minorities would need to be hired in Quebec's public sector to represent the diversity of its population.

Radio-Canada data shows another 25,000 visible minorities need to be hired

The City of Gatineau is one of a number of Quebec public sector organizations that is failing to meet workplace diversity targets, a Radio-Canada analysis has found. (Radio-Canada)

Many of Quebec's public sector organizations need to hire far more visible minorities in order to have their workforces represent the province's demographics, an analysis by Radio-Canada has found. 

Radio-Canada compiled data from 500 organizations — including school boards, cities, and hospitals — that employ about 600,000 public employees.

Their analysis found that visible minorities make up, on average, only five per cent of workforces — even though 11 per cent of the province's population is neither white nor aboriginal.

The data Radio-Canada looked at was published in December 2014 by Quebec's Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission, which sets minority employment targets for each organization, depending on such criteria as the organization's region and the availability of people to do the work.

That data, the most recent available, paints a portrait of the situation between 2010 and 2013 in Quebec.

For instance, visible minorities were under-represented at the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ), which had only 38 minorities on a staff of more than 6,000.

Hydro Québec, meanwhile, employed only 312 minorities in a workforce that topped 20,000 people, the analysis found.

Montreal's transit commission and its Jewish General Hospital were among those employers that come closest to hitting their targets.

Only 1 Outaouais agency hit target 

In the Outaouais region, only Pavillon du Parc, an organization that helps people with autism and intellectual disabilities, employed a representative number of people of non-white backgrounds during the data's timeframe.

Pavillon du Parc's head of human resources, Anick Malette, said the agency was proud to be 96 per cent of the way toward hitting the target set by the human rights commission.

The process was difficult, she said, but it happened because of a change in the organization's human resource policies, coupled with leaders who really pushed for the changes.

On the other end of the list, the Hauts-Bois-de-l'Outaouais school board in Maniwaki had only a single visible minority among its staff of 677.

The school board should have had 27, according to the data.

City of Gatineau lagging behind

According to the human rights commission's data, the City of Gatineau was not quite halfway to having the prescribed number of visible minorities on its payroll.

The city had 24 visible minorities among its 2814 employees, when it should have had 56.

Claude-Yvette Akoun, director of the Association of Immigrant Women in the Outaouais, said that while she expects managers mean well, it can be a challenge to hire people from other cultures without concrete suggestions for how to do so.

Evaluations of job applicants are often rooted in a North American approach to work culture, and hiring panels could look at ways to acknowledge cultural differences, she suggested.

with files from Radio-Canada's Thomas Gerbet