MPPA students Andrea Piett and Jeremy Dias have been selected as finalists for the Canada School of Public Service’s National Student Paper Competition, with their entry From Criminalization to Equality: How the Positive Space Campaign can Foster Inclusivity Within the Workplace.

This competition invites master’s and PhD students to submit their ideas for improving the federal public service and Canada’s future. The finalists (Top 5) and Grand Prize Winner(s) are selected through a formal adjudication process by a series of judges panels comprised of academics and public servants.

Abstract

As it stands, Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex and asexual (2SLGBTQIA+) employees in the federal public service and military experience challenges resulting from workplace cultures of bullying and discrimination.[1] Recent studies have indicated that despite formal anti-discrimination legislation and strategies, the 2SLGBTQIA+ community continues to experience discrimination, bullying and microaggressions.[2]  In a Canadian study looking at corporate and government workplaces, 62% of 2SLGBTQIA+ employees indicate having witnessed or experienced discrimination regularly.[3] Respectful and inclusive workplaces can improve the overall wellbeing of 2SLGBTQIA+ employees. Research has demonstrated that inclusive policies, supportive colleagues and managers, and efforts to create a sense of belonging significantly reduce discrimination and bullying, thus improving the climate for 2SLGBTQIA+ employees.[4] A solution that advances these strategies is the Positive Space Initiative. Building on the work of Andrea Markowski in bringing the Positive Space Initiative to the federal public service, we recommend the creation of a centralized committee responsible for the implementation of a government wide framework and mandatory Positive Space training for public servants to increase the awareness of  the discrimination faced by the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. An individual’s place of employment should be one of efficiency, triumph, and joy; at the very least it should be one of respect, inclusion, and welcomed diversity. A funded, mandatory, and centralized Positive Space Initiative will help employees feel safer in their work environment and promote the aforementioned values. Such an initiative will help bring awareness to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and help nurture a public service that has a grim past.

[1] Galupo, M. P., & Resnick, C. A. (2016). Experiences of LGBT Microaggressions in the Workplace: Implications for Policy. In Sexual Orientation and Transgender Issues in Organizations (pp. 271-287). Springer International Publishing.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Sasso, T., & Ellard-Gray, A. (2015). In & Out: Diverging Perspecitives on LGBT Inclusion in the Workplace. Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion. Retrieved: https://ccdi.ca/media/1070/20150528-report-lgbt-inclusion-in-the-workplace-en.pdf

[4] Huffman, A. H., Watrous-Rodriguez, K. M., & King, E. B. (2008). Supporting a diverse workforce: What type of support is most meaningful for lesbian and gay employees? Human Resource Management, 47(2), 237-253.