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Racism continues at HRM workplaces, employees suggest

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – I was recently contacted by several African Nova Scotian HRM employees, both male and female. They tell me that they continue to be discriminated against, passed over for promotions including positions of supervisors and managers, while white people on the job for a few months are promoted. They also say that if African Nova Scotians are given any sort of promotion the positions are of short duration. 

These workers also say they have experienced racial slurs, anti-Black sexism based on gender orientation, divisiveness in hiring practices, violations of policies and procedures and they say that their complaints are not given due process and these situations continue without redress or resolution. 

With an increase in racism in HRM and around the world, I believe it is most important for Halifax Regional Council to do a serious review of racism-related reported incidents in all departments within the Halifax Regional Municipality ASAP.

In 2016, an HRM Employment Systems Review Report was published after a three month period, a consulting team (Turner Consulting Group, Inc.) from Ontario conducted a thorough analysis and review of HRM’s Municipal Operations Programs employment practices. 

See also: Review finds widespread racism at HRM Municipal Operations division

The consultants made 72 recommendations for “the elimination of systemic, cultural and attitudinal barriers to a diverse workforce and inclusive work environment.” You can read the report here.

Some African Nova Scotian employees continue to report that middle and upper management do not acknowledge or act on their concerns within the workplace. Although these 72 recommendations were put forth by the consultant’s report, not all have been implemented.

Several African Nova Scotian HRM employees I spoke with compare their working conditions to the working conditions in the Southern United States of the 1950’s.

In my humble opinion HRM has been singing the diversity song without learning the dance that goes along with it. And where is the voice and advocacy of any Equity and Inclusion Officer?

There have been two African Nova Scotians that were promoted to the position of supervisor, so I am told, since the 2016 report. This is a first step but it pales in comparison to all that is needed. Racialized people work just as hard and are very capable and responsible for completing their jobs, and they deserve so much better than what they apparently have to endure.

I guess the question is, what are the indicators of real equality and inclusion? It is so easy for others to be in denial and dismissive, hoping to make the conversation go away.  We must recognize that systemic racism is very much alive in Canada, Nova Scotia, and indeed within the Halifax Regional Municipality. 

Many Canadians employers and politicians take the route of denial, arguing that systemic racism is only a problem affecting African Americans south of the border. Well, those people should be honest and check themselves; closer observation may reveal the inner workings of a full-blown racist system.

It is way past the time to do the right thing, but better now than never. I believe these African Nova Scotian workers continue to suffer disproportionately, while their voices are not listened to.

Black Lives Matter, in employment also!

See also: City’s criminal record check continues to deter job seekers

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