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Why Do we Need Diversity and Inclusion in the Security Sector?

Welcome remarks delivered at Mission Critical 2019: Inclusive Leadership for the Security Sector, June 17-20, 2019

June 18, 2019, 09:00 – 09:05, Embassy of Canada Berlin, Canada Room

Stéphane Dion
Ambassador of Canada to Germany and Special Envoy of the Prime Minister to the European Union and Europe

Dear General Zorn and Dear Rear-Admiral Cassivi,
Dear Doctor Tauber,
Meine sehr geehrten Damen und Herren,

It is my special honour to welcome you all today to the Embassy of Canada for the fifth edition of Mission Critical on the very important topic of diversity and inclusion in the security sector.

Thank you very much to the German Marshall Fund, the German Ministry of Defence and Deutscher Soldat for the excellent cooperation.

Diversity is a fact. Inclusion is a choice, the right choice. That is the theme of our conference.
Sometimes there is a view that people in the security establishment need to stay focused on the hard topics, topics like peace, defense, policing, and so on. And that soft topics, such as diversity and inclusion, should be kept separate.

Yet we in this room know that this reasoning is false, for at least four reasons.

First, the raison d’être of our security sector is to protect our open society, our universal rights, and among these basic rights, that there is equality of opportunity and dignity for all.

Our security sector cannot be effective in the protection of these values if it does not embrace them itself. In the world we want to live in, there is no place for prejudice, racism, intolerance, and exclusion. To work toward this aspiration, the security sector must itself be a reflection of it.

Second, to be effective, our security sector must tap into the full skills and talents of our populations. It cannot afford to exclude anyone.

Third, to strengthen the links of confidence with all groups, as well as to understand and to interact with them, the security sector will benefit from the presence in its ranks of members of these groups. The behaviour of police, military, border guards and others towards members of a group will determine whether these people feel recognised, accepted, and protected – valued – in a society.

That leads to the fourth reason: an inclusive world is much less difficult to secure than an exclusive one. The likelihood that our security sector will succeed is much higher if our societies, instead of being mistrustful and driven by xenophobia, are inclusive, welcoming, and based on trust.

In other words, the composition of our security personnel, and above all their perception of their responsibilities toward the communities they serve, are very important to their own effectiveness.

This means that you have chosen to discuss a subject this week that strikes a deep chord, because it touches on your optimal ability to effectively protect a world of rising diversity.

In Canada, more than one in five Canadians are foreign-born (21.9%) and this proportion is growing. Now, already two in five Canadian children are immigrants themselves, or have an immigrant parent. By 2030, Canada’s population growth will rely solely on immigration.

The Government of Canada views these differences – including those of ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion and faith – as opportunities.

In Canada, all government departments must proactively work to correct any underrepresentation of minority groups so that no person is denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to their ability to do the job at hand.

The departments and agencies working in the security sector are no exception to this. They are making commitments and seeing results.

A few examples: Canadian Forces recently set a goal of increasing Indigenous employees to 3,4%. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police set specific goals for the workforce in 2013; since 2011, the percentage of female commanding officers has increased from 12.5% to 31%. Canada Border Services Agency is on the cutting edge and is currently reviewing its first-ever Transgender Protocols.

Getting diversity right is hard work, and it is worth it. How can we make our security services a preferred employer for applicants from various groups? How can we move from goodwill to good policy? What goals and commitments shall we set?

As you see, I am impressed with the ambition of this conference. Your discussions this week will be vital in answering the tough, but necessary questions that will allow us to build a brighter future.

Dear guests, thank you very much for joining us today.

I would now like to turn your attention to a video message we have received from a very distinguished guest, who could unfortunately not be with us in person today: German Defense Minister von der Leyen.

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