The Case for Diversity in a Large Public Sector Organization

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The Ontario Public Service (OPS) employs over 68,000 public servants as one of the largest employers in Canada. As recent Canadian census data has revealed, the face of Canada and Ontario is rapidly changing as more and more immigrants from almost every part of the world choose to make Ontario and Canada their home. More importantly, the economy of our country and province needs these immigrants because of the low Canadian birth rate and our inability to increase our population naturally. The result is that Ontario is home to a rich and diverse population whose needs, aspirations and desires have evolved over the past 20 years. The machinery of government must, but has failed, to keep pace with changing public expectations.

The Ontario Public Service has implemented a successful modernization agenda. On numerous occasions, the OPS has been recognized as a world leader in modern and innovative public administration, both at home and abroad. However, a crucial element in that modernization agenda – diversity and inclusiveness – was not fully integrated or emphasized. Up to this point, diversity-related strategies have not explicitly been a key pillar of the revolutionary modernization agenda. In the areas of reflecting and embracing the rich diversity of Ontario throughout the organization, the OPS is not yet a world leader and has lagged behind other leading-edge organizations. Despite a rich and diverse province and workforce, the senior leadership ranks of the organization do not reflect this diversity. This paper will outline the OPS’ aggressive strategy for becoming an international public sector leader in organizational diversity management, and the organization against which others will be benchmarked in the future. The strategic business imperative to embracing and valuing diversity will be explained in the context of the need to capture and exploit Ontario’s unique advantage in this area. The true success of the public service should be measured by its ability to be relevant, responsive to, and reflective of, the population it serves.


Keywords: Ontario Public Service, Diversity Strategy, Public Administration, Relevant and Responsive Services
Stream: Organisations
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Michelle DiEmanuele

Deputy Minister, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, Government of Ontario
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Michelle DiEmanuele is Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS), Secretary of Management Board of Cabinet and Associate Secretary of the Cabinet, Centre for Leadership and Human Resource Management.
She recently acted as Interim CEO at the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, overseeing a significant change and renewal agenda. Michelle was previously the Vice President of Branch and Small Business Banking, Retail Markets/Human Resources for CIBC and the Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development for Brookfield Properties Ltd. Michelle was one of Canada’s 100 most Powerful Women (2006, 2007), one of Canada's Top 40 under 40 (1999), and the most influential Top 40 under 40 in the past decade (2005). Michelle has a BA (University of Waterloo) and MA (University of Toronto) in Political Science.

Ref: D08P0324