April 10, 2018

Taking pride in my work

Last summer, as the Ontario Digital Service was establishing itself and starting to grow into maturity, I approached the senior leadership team of the organization with a proposal: give me a new job.

I loved the work I had been doing with the ODS, but I also saw an opportunity to do work in a sphere that was important, but didn’t have any staff formally assigned to it at the time. In my proposal, I highlighted the need for someone to lead employee experience” in the organization—an amalgam of employee engagement, development, and workplace culture—and to look at how we could improve the entire experience of being part of the ODS family, from the day you apply to the day you leave.

I likened the position to a guidance counsellor for employees, and was heavily influence by Atul Gawande’s writing on coaching, by Jen Dary’s work on growing good leaders, by Project Include’s advocacy on inclusion, by Google’s research on building teams, and many other leaders and thinkers in the space.

Over the past eight months, I’ve been so lucky to lead employee experience in the ODS, and to work on projects like re-thinking the organizational structure, the creation of our People Board, the rollout of our code of conduct, shaping a more inclusive recruiting process, and so many more.

Of all the projects I’ve had the opportunity to lead, I’m most proud of two, one of which launched today: our inclusion pledge, and our diversity report.

Building an inclusive and equitable workplace is not just a passion of mine, but something I strongly believe will build a better ODS. I’m lucky to work in an organization where senior management not only agrees with that, but actively promotes the importance of the work and empowers me to do it every day.

Last summer, we launched our inclusion pledge stating our commitment to participating in events that are inclusive: events that think about diversity, accessibility, equity, access, and have a code of conduct. It may have been a small thing, but it was one of the pieces of work I’ve been most proud of leading in my entire career.

Today, we released our diversity report. Again, this is a small thing, but it’s an important step towards much more. We can’t work towards inclusion and equity without first knowing how we’re doing on representation; collecting that data and sharing it with others to hold us accountable is our way of acknowledging how far we’ve come, but also how much more needs to be done.

The pledge and the report are, in the grand scheme of things, not massive or consequential, but they are clearly the work I’m most proud of doing over the past few years. I believe that the future of public service is inclusive, intentional, reflective, compassionate, and competent—anything I can do to help us get there is what I want to devote my life and career towards from now on.