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Revised Ottawa police gender policies still fell short of its own equality goals

Why the policies still don’t meet the force’s own gender equality standards

A file photo of an Ottawa police badge.

Metro

A file photo of an Ottawa police badge.

When Ottawa Police revealed overhauled gender policies Tuesday, it noted despite meeting its human rights obligations, the new policies didn’t meet the force’s own goals.

To measure its equality goals, the force used a gender audit tool developed by an outside expert. It found three out of four elements fell short of the threshold for minimum compliance.

Those four elements include strategic command, described as organizational vision and leadership and practical capacity, described as procedures for gender integration. It also looked at the organizational policies and governance and the work culture.

While the force had improved greatly since starting its policy overhaul, only “work culture” received a passing grade.

Deputy Chief Steven Bell said Tuesday some of this was because the force made a conscious decision to include all human rights in its policies, not just gender, even if it meant scoring lower.

“If you look at our policy statement, it is generic. It doesn’t speak specifically to gender. In order to get a mark for gender you actually have to say gender in it,” Bell said, but he added the force knows it still has a culture problem with gender.

To rectify this, the police engaged Dr. Linda Duxbury from Carleton University to do an in-depth study.

The study has led to “a-ha” moments, according to Bell, including women wait longer to start applying for leadership positions, often 20 years, compared to only 9 years for men, likely because of childcare commitments.

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