89.5% of Kitchener city employees are white: study

The City of Kitchener flag outside of city hall. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

The City of Kitchener released the results of its workforce census and senior leaders believe work needs to be done on inclusion.

“For some time now, we’ve believed the City of Kitchener’s workforce is not fully reflective of the community we serve – and the data collected through our first-ever workforce census confirms that to be the case,” read a joint statement signed by Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, councillors Paul Singh and Sarah Marsh, CAO Dan Chapman and deputy CAO Michael May.

The city says 80 per cent of its 2,208 staff responded to the survey, which was conducted last June.

Of the respondents, 90 per cent were born in Canada, whereas the makeup of the city sees 26 per cent of residents come from another country.

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”Given this discrepancy, it is clear that City of Kitchener staff do not represent the ethnic/racial diversity found in the surrounding population,” the report says.

A total of 89.5 per cent of city employees are white, which is also a wide gap from a city where 22 per cent of its residents are considered to be visible minorities.

While three per cent of the city’s population is Indigenous, 1.3 per cent of city staff are reported to be Indigenous.

While women make up 42 per cent of the city’s workforce and the number of women working in senior leadership roles (41 per cent) is fairly consistent with that figure, it dives a couple of more points (39 per cent) when taking into account all management staff.

“As a public sector organization, the City of Kitchener has a responsibility to serve everyone in our community,” the note from senior staff states. “When our employees bring with them a broad diversity of lived experiences and perspectives, our organization is better positioned to make decisions that serve our entire community well. “

It is not clear yet what measures the city might take to diversify its employee roster, although a note on its website says it will not institute hiring quotas but will look to remove any systemic barriers that may be in place.

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“We are committed to taking action and making meaningful improvements – but we can’t do it alone,” the senior staff’s statement reads. “We’re not going to make assumptions or jump to conclusions about what changes are needed.

“We’re going to be deliberate in analyzing data, researching solutions and collaborating with individuals and organizations in our community from whom we have much to learn.”

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