Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
has publicly apologized on behalf of the government, for the treatment of LGBT workers and veterans throughout Canadian history.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Trudeau shed light on the discrimination gay, lesbian, bi and transgender employees were, and are, subjected to in their careers.
The Prime Minister reminded the Commons of ‘The Purge’, the government-sponsored programme which monitored all suspected gay civil servants from the 1950s to the 1990s, in which thousands of workers were intimidated into giving up their jobs.
“The public service, the military, and the RCMP
spied on their own people, inside and outside of the workplaces,” explained Trudeau. “Canadians were monitored for anything that could be construed as homosexual behaviour, with community groups, bars, parks, and even people’s homes constantly under watch.”
He added that those who admitted to being gay were “fired, discharged, or intimidated into resignation. They lost dignity, lost careers, and had their dreams – and indeed, had their lives shattered… For state-sponsored, systemic oppression and rejection, we are sorry.”
And whilst there may be a way to go in terms of diversity and equality in our workplaces, more and more executives and directors are taking it upon themselves to speak out against LBGT discrimination.
Colin Druhan, executive director at Pride at Work Canada, spoke to us recently about his role on the diversity panel ‘Navigating gender & sexuality with employees in a changing workplace’, which deals with helping LGBT employees make their mark in the Canadian employment sphere.
“LGBTQ people face very specific challenges,” he told us. “Only around half of them are ‘out’ at work, for instance. They are often unemployed or underemployed. And around a quarter of homeless people in Canada are LGBTQ.
“They can be very isolated – from their families, for example, which can affect their working lives. I got my first job, for instance, from a friend of my parents. But not everyone is so lucky. Some people are on their own.
“There’s also a huge difference between Canada and the US. In many elements we have a similar culture, but wildly different legislations when it comes to LGBTQ rights. A lot of attitudes and norms need to change.”
Colin Druhan will be speaking at HRD Canada’s Diversity & inclusion Masterclass, March 8th 2018. For more information on our speaker line up and agenda, click here
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