Janice Charette is Canada’s Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, the most senior Canadian public official and already the second woman to hold that role. In conversation with Melanie Dawes, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government and Diversity Champion, Charette talked about the role of women in Canadian public services, efforts to increase diversity and the similarities and differences to gender diversity in the UK’s Civil Service. Embracing diversity The comparable headline statistics make for an interesting starting point. In Canada, 55% of all core federal public servants, the equivalent of our Civil Service, are women compared to 53.3% in the UK. Canada’s executive ranks – the top tiers – stood at 40%, up from only 5% in 1983 (Charette joined in 1984). In the UK, grades 1-3 (roughly, but not entirely the equivalent of the Senior Civil Service (SCS) today) were 4.5% female in 1983, compared to 37.9% in the SCS in 2015. But it is at the top that the differences show. In Canada, the highest rank of deputy Minister – those who head or are second in command in a department and the equivalent of our permanent secretaries – […]

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