Meagan Commonda
Apr 15 · 3 min read

Talent Cloud: Indigenous Talent Pilot — June 11, 2018
 
Allow me to introduce myself: Meagan Commonda nidijinikaz, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg nidondjiba. I have been employed in the Public Service since 2006. After my 3rd or 4th year of employment, I began to feel how many Indigenous employees feel working in the Public Service: left behind.

I decided to attend university for five and a half years to obtain an Honours Degree in Indigenous Studies, and have taken intensive language training to learn a second colonial language - only to remain in the same entry-level employment that I’ve occupied for 12 years. I’ve watched non-Indigenous employees that I’ve trained for entry-level positions surpass me because of the glass ceiling that inhibited me from climbing the same corporate ladder. I have shared this common narrative with many Indigenous employees and I have been very cognizant of the fact that the hiring system is flawed – substantially so for Indigenous employees.
 
So I reached out. I took a leap of faith that many of us have to take. As a result, I joined the Talent Cloud team at the end of March, 2018 as the Indigenous Community Liaison. The concept that jumped out at me was the sentence that read: “In addition to looking at how Indigenous talent is seen and recognized, the Talent Cloud team wants to better understand systemic barriers in Government recruitment faced by Indigenous talent.” The time is now.
 
Barriers
 
What are the barriers that plague the system, specifically for Indigenous employees in the Public Service?

Language requirements: the Official Languages Act:

Most positions that are not entry-level are typically BBB imperative. Consequently, upwards mobility in the current system is limited

Employees that are staffed in positions that are BBB imperative are then required to attend Official Language training to learn a second colonial language when many don’t (or would rather) speak their own traditional language(s)

Education requirements:

Most Indigenous peoples must be away from their home communities to pursue higher education, with the exception of those enrolled in digital learning platforms.

Obtaining post-secondary certification can be more challenging for Indigenous peoples than the non-Indigenous population.

Security barriers

Many schedule one offenders would not even consider applying for government employment, and are not aware that they may still occupy positions that require reliability security clearance

Self-Identification

At which point does self-identification act as a barrier?

This is a major concern for Indigenous employees and hiring managers

How will this issue be resolved/monitored?

The Many Voices One Mind (2017) Report has thoroughly outlined many more barriers which are in place for Indigenous employees in the Public Service. Additionally, further barriers have been identified during numerous discussions with the Indigenous community.

The Indigenous Talent Pilot is presently in the preliminary stages of development.
 
Phase I
 
The Talent Cloud team is currently in the process of reviewing current policies and assessing where there might be flexibility to work around the current barriers.
 
As the Indigenous Community Liaison, I have been actively engaging the Indigenous community and collaborating on rethinking the ways in which Indigenous talent is seen and valued. Additionally, Indigenous employees have been expressing their insights regarding what an Indigenously-built digital space should look like. Results and feedback from the ongoing discussions will be shared on GCCollab.
 
Once a portal has been built by our team of developers, we will be inviting Indigenous participants to test the platform and guide us in working out the kinks.
 
The Indigenous Talent Pilot is garnering support from the Indigenous community, including a growing number of supporters among the executive levels. An External Advisory Board will be chaired by Gina Wilson, Deputy Minister of Status of Women. As a grassroots initiative, this is a giant leap in the direction of serious change.
 
Phase II
 
As the pilot progresses, and further input from the Indigenous community is received, independent pilot projects will be developed to address and reduce (and hopefully remove) the barriers outlined above.
Phase II will also be aimed at developing targeted recruitment and job pairing between Indigenous applicants and hiring managers who want to bring in talent that enhances the cognitive and experiential diversity of their teams.
 
The Indigenous Talent Pilot is a large undertaking surrounded with many deeply-rooted dynamics. It will take time to develop, however, the work is well underway and is looking very promising.

    Meagan Commonda

    Written by

    Anishinabekwe always pushing for better.