‘Creating lasting change requires a deep commitment to challenging our systems and the way we work’
After months of controversy surrounding charges of racism, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) has released a framework plan meant to create a safe, respectful and healthy workplace.
The plan is a direct response to a report released in August that found racism at the museum is both pervasive and systemic.
“Creating lasting change requires a deep commitment to challenging our systems and the way we work,” says Isha Khan, the new president and CEO of CMHR. “We are approaching this thoughtfully and have been working hard to gather input from employees and the community. Our approach must address systemic racism and discrimination in our workplace in a meaningful way. It cannot be window dressing. It will take a sustained effort over time.”
Specific recommendations outlined under the plan include:
- Amend the terms of reference for the diversity and inclusion committee to require not fewer than one Black person, one Indigenous person (and ideally representatives from First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples) and one person who identifies as LGTBQ2+ at all times, in addition to members of additional equity groups.
- Review all board policies to screen for bias, and to ensure that board policies promote and support equity.
- Set goals for the CEO to promote a culture of equity, inclusion and accountability within the museum.
- Prioritize recruitment of BIPOC and LGBTQ2+ executives and managers.
- Identify board performance objectives for the CEO that include promoting a culture of anti-racism, equity, respect, inclusion, and accountability.
- Identify performance objectives for every member of the executive team that promote strong internal communications and create a culture of anti-racism, equity, respect, inclusion, and accountability.
- Include a performance objective for every executive team member that requires commitment to and modeling of anti-racism, equity, and accountability.
- Create a chief equity officer and anti-racism practice lead with sufficient budget and staffing to carry duties related to leading the organization to be anti-racism and equitable.
“Accountability to deliver on these strategies rests with each and every one of us,” says Khan. “I am proud that we took the time to reflect on this plan because it has allowed us to start to change the way we think and work together.”
Effects of racism
There are several ways racism is bad for business, according to Adwoa Bagalini, engagement, diversity and inclusion lead at the World Economic Forum:
- It stifles creativity.
- It leads to disengagement, lower productivity and higher staff turnover.
- It increases absenteeism and health issues among employees.
- It leads to bad PR, loss of income and litigation.
- Consumers will boycott a brand if they don’t like its social or political position.
“Businesses have a moral obligation to address this issue, of course,” he says. “But when the impacts on organizations that don’t act are taken into account, too, it becomes clear that adopting an anti-racist approach as a business imperative can no longer be ignored.”
Recently, several construction-related groups in Canada have teamed up to launch a “Built for Respect” campaign to tackle and fight anti-Black racism within the construction industry.