Diversity, inclusion, and belonging are core values for our team at the Ontario Digital Service.
As a government organization, our job is to serve everyone — we don’t have one target market. To do this well, we work to understand the needs of people of all backgrounds, geographies and circumstances. We also want to ensure that the diverse populations we serve are reflected on our team, and at the events we participate in.
To make those things more than just words on a screen, we must be conscious and deliberate about inclusivity. We need to surface the issues, address hard truths and, most importantly, do something about it.
Inclusion spans all our work, from how we hire and then nurture employees, to how we ensure that all Ontarians can benefit from the things we create. We’re using inclusive design methods, and embedding accessibility from the start, when building new online products and services. And we’re funding research and organizing a summit on digital inclusion to uncover what more can be done to ensure that everyone can benefit from digital technologies in their lives. But we know we can always do more.
To effect change, we need to be the change.
As of today, we are adopting a pledge to support, host, and encourage participation at events where there are conscious and visible efforts to be inclusive in programming, organization, and outreach. This pledge follows in the footsteps of the City of Toronto, the UK Government Digital Service, other governments and community organizations around the world who have stood up to advance diversity in talent pools and shine a light on representation.
Here is our pledge (created together with the whole of the ODS):
The Ontario Digital Service considers an event inclusive when it:
- highlights a range of voices from a variety of backgrounds, especially those who aren’t normally heard
- promotes a diverse, safe and accessible environment
The Ontario Digital Service will only sponsor or organize conferences or panels that make conscious and visible efforts to be inclusive.
The ODS will strongly encourage team members to only attend and speak at inclusive events, and we will support employees in raising diversity, accessibility, and inclusion concerns with events directly.
For the events we’ve previously agreed to attend before today — the ones that don’t meet the criteria of our pledge — we’re still going. Because we believe that we can open conversation about inclusion and diversity by connecting with others and cultivating understanding across sectors and communities. We will also work closely with organizers to help them take action and bring more diverse voices to their events.
Ensuring that every person feels that they belong in the Ontario Digital Service is at the very heart of who we are, what we stand for and how we want to make an impact through the services we build.
We also know that shifting the system to be more respectful, inclusive, accessible and diverse isn’t overnight work. But it is the most important work. And the most important things can be the hardest to do. So, we’re going to be open about our progress, and challenges, in this space. Even candid. Because building a sense of belonging takes collective effort and active practice.
Our pledge is just one of the many steps we plan to take to make our team of technologists, and the tech industry around us, a more welcoming and inclusive place for all people. It’s our way of saying that inclusion is important to us as public servants, to our team and our organization.
We’ll be releasing a diversity report, with more information about the makeup of our team and some of our diversity metrics, in the new year; along with the report, we’ll share more details about our work on diversity, inclusion, and belonging. In the meantime, we’re always open to your questions, feedback and ideas. Please raise your voice, especially if you’re from a community who feels misrepresented, underrepresented or not represented at all in the government tech/digital space. We need to hear from you.