Health Canada has developed six diversity collaboration tools that are readily adaptable and can be tailored to use across a variety of subject matters to gain public servant input and feedback. They are designed to raise awareness of diversity issues as well as to increase participation and maximize staff engagement, knowledge retention, and communities of practices among colleagues within their work areas and across departments.
The first is Diversity Collaboration Tools: Collecting insights from diverse populations and participants to further knowledge exchange, a series of tools developed to invite ongoing conversations among colleagues and the diverse populations we serve as public servants. As a public servant with muscular dystrophy, I am grateful for the opportunity to share how I have responded to the gaps of leading engaging and meaningful discussions by designing these diversity collaboration tools.
Introspective Questions and Reports Capturing Participants’ Perspectives is an inquiry exercise intended to provide a forum for participants to transfer their knowledge to each other and to obtain information for the case study and course modules in order to be more responsive to participants’ top of mind issues and concerns. It is challenging to ensure the different positions raised by groups such as scientists and policy analysts are understood, and the introspective exercise serves as a method to engage all participants to share their expertise.
Three questions are posed on one page and handed out to participants to complete individually in silence before the main activity begins. This sheet can take 5-7 minutes to complete. The responses are collected to get an instant pulse of participants’ views.
Permitting participants time to reflect on their own expertise before the session begins is a rewarding knowledge exchange for course participants and facilitators. Meaningful reporting back to participants with a timely product resulting from participants’ input produces a rich narrative report for use in analysis, evaluation, furthering research and assessing priorities.
Another is Aboriginal Perspectives, a testimonial approach that is a powerful learning method for case study work and demonstrates how trainers can provide a vital perspective to participants on their timely issue by including a key stakeholder’s view. I negotiated with staff from First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, Health Canada to conduct interviews with Elders. This was a delicate process since access to Elders is not always permitted. I also negotiated with the Elders to allow for the inclusion of their insights as Aboriginal perspectives into case study development.
I created a Press Conference Role Play to give participants an opportunity to apply integration of different theories (policy, science and regulation). This highly interactive activity provides a unique learning where all are fully engaged and able to express their perspectives. Each participant is designated a role and they can choose to switch with colleagues. As participants explore their role as a stakeholder, journalist or government official, they are placing themselves in a position within a historical period of crisis and decision-making affecting lives.
A fifth is Learning Moments. I designed a feedback tool to collect participants’ learning and insights. At first there was skepticism regarding whether there would be uptake for this tool. Soon results proved there was an interest among colleagues to take part in the dialogue.
Finally, there is a pilot project, Public Servants with Disabilities Participating in Policy Knowledge Transfer and Mentoring Conversation. These sessions give staff a chance to present their policy issue and receive timely feedback from senior managers. In turn, senior managers gain insight into perspectives put forward from staff.
I would like to thank my invaluable contributors in subject matter expertise for H1N1 Case Study Team, Mental Health Case Study Development Team, SPI Course Team, and for those who support me and make it possible for me to be on the Persons with Disabilities Opportunities Program: Phyllis Colvin, Christine Chapman, Diane McClymont-Peace, Zachary Jacobson, Laurent Gémar, Anne Middleton, Nadine Kolas, Karen Lloyd, Stéphane Lessard, Marcel Saulnier, Cheryl Grant, Alexandra Halkett, Margaret Moore, Ryan Seid, Michel Sylvain, Frances Nehme, from Health Canada, as well as, Bernard Starkman from Justice Canada, and Elder Annie Smith St-Georges and Elder Albert Dumont.