In addition to other countless impacts on our members, and on others across Canada and around the world, deep job cuts at the CBC also seriously damage efforts to diversify the workplace.
As a Crown corporation, the CBC is mandated to have its employees reflect Canada’s diversity. There are four groups that the federal Employment Equity Act (http://www.labour.gc.ca/eng/standards_equity/eq/emp) considers as having had historical and social difficulties in getting employment; women, workers of colour, Aboriginal workers, and workers with disabilities.
In order to create a fair, equitable and representative workforce, all Canadian crown corporations are mandated to have a hiring plan geared towards fully reflecting the people of Canada. Over the years, CBC management has had to develop a diversity and inclusion plan (http://www.cbc.radio-canada.ca/en/reporting-to-canadians/employment-equity) to show how it will achieve this goal of representing Canada’s population.
Your union has always been involved in helping CBC management achieve these goals by being an active member of the National Joint Employment Equity Committee, which oversees the diversity plan, measures its goals, and strategizes for the future. However, these are ambitious goals and CBC management has struggled to increase and maintain representation from the four designated groups.
The CBC is becoming more equitable in workforce gender representation; the number of women hired in permanent positions reached 46.5% in 2012, and this is commendable. On the other hand, the picture has not been so rosy when it comes to recruiting and retaining workers of colour (6.8%), Aboriginal workers (1.3%), and workers with disabilities (1.5%). Your union has questioned why this is and, among other things, has encouraged CBC management to look at who does the hiring and how those candidates come to the attention of the boards that make the hiring decisions.
Still, it is very difficult to increase workplace diversity as the number of jobs on offer at the CBC continues to shrink. From a variety of perspectives, it helps if there is a steady baseline from which to build.
As more positions are cut, there are fewer positions to fill, and opportunities to increase equitable representation in the workforce are fewer. It becomes more difficult to catch-up.
The announcement of further deep cuts on April 10 should concern us all. Over the last ten years, more than 2500 positions have been lost at CBC. These cuts may not be recovered from, and insofar as the CBC is a mirror to Canada there is also a large crack in its surface.
These cuts represent lost opportunities, lost representations, and lost perspectives – many people not getting a chance to get in the door in the first place. And the loss of every person who “goes out the door” now, with every fresh cut at the CBC, is also significant. Whether our people are temporary, contract, or permanent employees, there are multiple tangible impacts, in addition to equity and diversity concerns.
Your union struggles for fairness and equal representation for all workers, not just those who sign a card and pay dues, and not just those who have been signed up the longest. We want our workplaces to be welcoming for all of the beautiful diversity of this country. These deep job cuts mean that the CBC is severely hampered in meeting that goal.
The Canadian Media Guild remains deeply committed to all members, and we continue to advocate and push employers – not just at the CBC but elsewhere – to remember that diversity is a true strength and that successful enterprises will be reflective of the people in our cities and towns and all of the regions across this great land.
In order to do what it must, the CBC needs stable, multi-year funding. Moreover, the CBC needs to grow and change with Canadians.
National Director, Human Rights and Equity