Message from the Secretary of Cabinet

Ontario benefits from having a diverse and well-educated population. This unique advantage provides the Ontario Public Service with an excellent opportunity to attract the best talent while becoming a diverse and inclusive organization.

Our recent employee engagement survey shows that we have made significant improvements over the past three years in employee engagement, diversity of employees and creating a more respectful workplace.

As I reflect on these gains, I truly believe that we have a unique opportunity to reach even greater heights in our transformation of the Ontario Public Service.

A diverse workforce will help us adopt new and innovative ideas and approaches to solving problems. To develop people-centered policies, programs and services, we must ensure that the values and the practices of our leaders and employees are open, inspiring and inclusive. We will not be able to reach our full potential unless we become a truly diverse, accessible and inclusive workplace.

And that brings us to our Inclusion & Diversity Blueprint – a roadmap to creating a workplace that harnesses the richness and strength of our diversity.

This Blueprint, which reflects broad-based employee input, sets out a path to enhance our diversity by implementing bold new approaches to creating our workforce for the future.

Together we can create an Ontario Public Service where we all feel valued and proud to belong.

Steve Orsini

Call to Action

As Ontario continues to grow and change, the OPS must strive to increasingly reflect the public we serve. With more than 13 million residents speaking 200 languages, Ontario has the most culturally diverse population in Canada.

  • Ontario is home to the largest population of Indigenous people in the country
  • 48% of Ontario’s population will be racialized by 2036
  • 1 in 7 Ontarians has a disability
  • By 2020, Millennials will make up half of the global workforce

Diversifying the OPS requires examining our policies, practices and systems and using data to take concrete, measurable actions that will reduce systemic barriers and eliminate discrimination and harassment for all employees.

But simply reflecting the diversity of the province is not enough. We must also ensure that all OPS workplaces are inclusive environments, where the diversity of identities, experiences, perspectives and skills of our employees contribute to collaborative, creative and innovative work resulting in more responsive, and equitable policies, programs and services.

  • Racialized employees make up approximately 25% of Ontario’s labour force and 23% of the OPS
  • Diversity in OPS leadership generally declines as management level increases. However, upcoming retirements present an opportunity to diversify 30% of managers and 34% of executives will be eligible to retire in the next five years
  • OPS employees with a disability have an Employee Engagement Index score of 63.5, 6.4 points lower than the OPS index

Investing in inclusion and diversity will better position the OPS for a future facing:

  • Increasing public expectations
  • Greater public desire to have a voice in the government decision-making process
  • Increased competition for talent and specialized skills
  • Growing income inequality
  • Rapidly changing technology


The Vision

An open, accessible, equitable and respectful workplace where all employees participate fully and contribute to the development of policies, programs and services that meet the needs and expectations of all Ontarians.

How does inclusion and diversity work?

  • Diverse Talent: better represents the public we serve in senior management and talent pipeline
  • Inclusive Leaders: equipped to create collaborative pipeline
  • Diversity of Thought & Experience: thrive in an inclusive workplace
  • Greater Collaboration: enables creativity and innovation in the way we work
  • Responsive Public Service: creates equitable policies, programs and services

The Words We Use

is the range of visible and invisible qualities, experiences and identities that shape who we are, how we think and how we engage with, and are perceived by the world. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical or mental abilities, religious/spiritual beliefs, or political ideologies. They can also include differences such as personality, style, capabilities, and thoughts/perspectives.
is recognizing, welcoming and making space for diversity. An inclusive OPS capitalizes on the diversity of thought, experiences, skills and talents of all of our employees.
is fairness, making sure everyone has what they need to succeed and removing barriers that disadvantage some groups over others. This is different than treating people equally, which is behind the concept of “equality.”
is a specific approach to eliminate racism that acknowledges that systemic racism exists and that takes proactive steps to fight racial inequity. It actively confronts the unequal power dynamic between groups and structures that maintain it.
is ensuring that people of all abilities have equitable and barrier–free access to physical spaces, products, programs and services, as well as employment opportunities.

Priorities & Actions

OPS-wide consultations, extensive research and analysis of OPS Employee Survey results and other OPS data have led to the following recommended priorities and actions to advance inclusion, anti-racism and accessibility in the OPS.

Priority 1: Diversify the talent pipeline

What did we learn?


Based on 2017 OPS Employee Survey data, female, Indigenous, and racialized employees and employees with disabilities have the greatest gaps in representation at senior management levels.

Demographic Makeup of OPS Senior Leadership
GroupOntario Labour Force %OPS %
36,357 Responses
ITX1 %
704 Responses
EXEC 2 %
563 Responses
EXEC 3-4 %
184 Responses
Deputy Ministers %
23 Responses
LGBTQ+Not Available10.710.48.610.54.4
Persons with Disabilities814.010.311.77.78.7
Visible Minority (Racialized)2522.619.716.811.59.1
  1. Data is point-in-time and based on varying participation rates and sample sizes at each executive level.
  2. Deputy minister data is from the 2016 Leadership Profile Data Collection Pilot Survey.
  3. As of November 8th, 2017, the gender breakdown of Deputy Ministers is 38% female and 62% male.
    Source: Meet the Secretary’s team.
  4. Ontario Labour Force data is from Statistics Canada (2011 and 2012).

Until you’re used to seeing someone in a hijab, or seeing a black woman in a position of power, the culture won’t change…getting people into those positions will then allow their work to speak for itself.

If we have an OPS that better represents Ontario then we’ll have policies and programs that better serve the public.


Setting goals and targets can be an effective way to diversify senior leadership. But targets need to be enforced in order to be successful. Rhode and Ricca, 2015; Mckinsey, 2012; Feintzeig, WSJ 2017

Mentoring and sponsorship is integral for professional development and career progression. Exposure to differences seems to lay the groundwork for diverse and inclusive teams Dobbin & Kalev, HBR, 2016; Megginson, 2006

What will we do?

1: Set goals and targets to diversify the leadership ranks

  • Set a three-year corporate goal to increase the percentage of under-represented groups in the leadership ranks, including racialized employees and employees with disabilities.
  • Establish annual ministry targets in leadership development programs, succession plans, recruitment short-lists, and coaching/mentoring to achieve the corporate goal.

2: Identify and confront potential bias and systemic barriers in recruitment, hiring and promotion

  • Review the OPS Policy on Preventing Barriers in Employment and develop an OPS Anti-Racism Policy to support the identification and removal of any systemic barriers in recruitment and employment practices. This includes any identified barriers for racialized employees and employees with disabilities with particular strategies for those with severe disabilities.
  • Conduct an analysis of employee data and trends to ground the monitoring of issues and to guide evidence-based strategies for improvement.

3: Strengthen mentoring, coaching and sponsorship

  • Improve mentoring opportunities and programs (including matching processes) for under-represented groups and track the career progression of mentees to evaluate impact.
  • Implement a sponsorship framework to retain, develop and advance high-potential employees from under-represented groups.

Priority 2: Advancing inclusive leadership

What did we learn?

GroupWorkplace culture IndexEmployee engagement index
Persons with Disabilities57.663.5
Visible Minority (Racialized)65.971.5
  • Indigenous employees, and employees with disabilities score lower in their general perceptions of OPS workplace culture.
  • Employees with disabilities report a significantly lower employee engagement index score than the OPS value.

Senior leadership need to “walk the talk” and lead by example. This includes taking practical steps as well as rewarding appropriate action and taking action when individuals aren’t inclusive.


Inclusive leaders are critical to leveraging diversity within their teams. They are self-aware, support continuous learning, facilitate collaboration, and recognize the impact of a welcoming environment. Bourke & Dillon, Deloitte, 2014; Catalyst, 2016

What will we do?

1: Strengthen use of inclusive leadership competencies to hire, develop, promote and evaluate leaders

  • Embed inclusive leadership behaviours in all leadership development programming and tie them to performance plans and assessments (e.g., OPS Leadership Strategy) to hold leaders accountable for their behaviour.
  • Embed diversity and inclusion content in leadership development programs, including anti-racism and disability awareness training.
  • Create new tools and approaches to provide leaders with more individualized feedback on their behaviours from a broader range of people.

2: Develop an outcomes-based data and performance measurement framework to hold leaders and ministries accountable for outcomes, track OPS-wide progress, and implement evidence-based strategies

  • Improve quality and consistency of data sources, measures and monitoring to provide a clearer picture of the representation and movement of employees within the organization and for other measures of inclusion. Include race-based data collection, standards, analysis and reporting to identify and monitor potential systemic racism.
  • Implement a process to collect data on employee accommodation decisions and to hold leaders accountable for providing appropriate accommodation and supports for employees with disabilities throughout their recruitment and employment with the organization.

Priority 3: Build capacity to deliver inclusive public services

What did we learn?

  • Based on 2017 OPS Employee Survey data, employees with disabilities have the lowest Workplace Culture, Engagement and Inclusion Index scores and report experiencing significantly higher incidences of discrimination than the broader OPS
  • 51% of employees with disabilities who are black report experiencing discrimination in the past two years
  • Trans employees report a discrimination rate of 59%
% Experienced discrimination in past 2 years
Persons with Disabilities28%31%
Visible Minority (Racialized)18%19%


…the focus was on building awareness and understanding of D&I, the focus was very broad. What we need now is the application. Behavioural change. Skills-based programs that focus on impact. We need attitude changes and clear expectations for behaviour.

People need to hear concrete, real world examples of how prejudice and discrimination can influence a person’s life.


Effective learning addresses key inclusion concepts, raises awareness, and builds skills; is on-going and sustainable; is customized to the audience, and evokes a personal connection to the subject matter. Manson, 2009; Forbes, 2015; Paluck, Green, 2009; Dobbin & Kalev, HBR, 2016

Employee resource groups can be effective in creating a culture of inclusion. They can provide constructive feedback, expand candidate pools, support learning and training, and develop leaders. Mahrer, Sabin and Smaller-Swift, 2009; CCDI, 2015

What will we do?

1: Incorporate core diversity and inclusion concepts and skills development in all OPS learning

  • Develop a continuous learning curriculum/learning path and criteria for diversity, inclusion, accessibility and anti-racism content for OPS learning. Use it to review/strengthen current content and address gaps as needed.
  • Develop an anti-racism 101 learning module for all OPS staff and ensure training on anti-racism as well as various aspects of disability are embedded in OPS learning as appropriate.

2: Incorporate equity assessments in policy and program development and business practices

  • Link and promote the various equity-focused lenses and assessment tools (e.g. OPS Inclusion Lens, Indigenous Inclusion Lens, Rural Lens) as one integrated toolkit and add additional levers to business practices and decision-making.
  • Develop new tools to address gaps (i.e., an Anti-Racism Impact Assessment Tool; an Accessibility Lens).

3: Strengthen OPS stakeholder engagement capacity and improve organizational collaboration to deliver on new diversity and inclusion priorities

  • Create new/better opportunities for collaboration and engagement (e.g. OPS Inclusion Reference Group, Ministry Accessibility Leads Committee) and clarify and promote the role/purpose of Employee Networks. As a result, stakeholders will be better able to provide advice, coordinate/share expertise, and effectively guide and implement OPS inclusion and diversity priorities and actions, the government’s Anti-Racism Strategic Plan, Multi-Year Accessibility Plan and AODA requirements.

Our Responsibility

Inclusion and diversity is a shared responsibility. The OPS will only succeed in advancing more equitable outcomes for all staff and the public we serve if we work together to create a more responsive public service.

What will success look like?

  • Across the OPS, all employees can see themselves reflected in their senior leaders
  • Hiring managers understand and use techniques to address barriers in recruitment, hiring and promotion
  • More staff from a diversity of backgrounds are better equipped to navigate their OPS careers due to mentoring, coaching and sponsorship
  • All OPS leaders model inclusive behaviour, seek feedback and embrace a diversity of viewpoints and perspectives from their teams
  • Good quality data and strong consistent measures for diversity, inclusion, anti-racism and accessibility are used by leaders, ministries, and the OPS at large to identify and address issues and track progress
  • Employees and leaders have access to tailored inclusion, diversity, anti-racism and accessibility training that is engaging, practical and relevant to their work. Other learning and training seamlessly weaves these concepts into the curriculum.
  • Equity assessments are simple, straightforward, easy to use and incorporated throughout the policy and program development process
  • Employee voices are an essential part of the continuous development and improvement of the policies and programs that impact OPSers

The end result: As many different kinds of talented people as possible, working in a culture that supports them to bring their best.