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Canada’s national museum of military history

  • 3 millionArtifacts and documents in its collection
  • 500,000Visitors every year
  • 2005Opening year of new location on Lebreton Flats
  • #1Of things to do in Ottawa according to TripAdvisor

Our Cultural Transformation

“Providing a workplace where every person is supported and respected in a safe and inclusive environment.”

That is the principle at the heart of the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum as we embark on this cultural transformation.

Here, we share what we have done — and what we are doing — to build a more respectful, supportive, inclusive, diverse and healthy work environment as we work together to deliver on our national mandate.

Workforce Assessment

Following a formal complaint in 2020, the Museums proactively appointed a third-party expert investigator, while at the same time initiating a review of the Museums’ human resources policies, practices and procedures.

We asked ourselves hard questions. Are we doing enough to ensure the Museums provide an engaging, safe and inclusive environment in which all employees can thrive?

We conducted a Workforce Assessment to measure the Museums’ overall working environment and to capture all employees’ satisfaction levels.

Here is what we found.

Areas of Focus:

The Workforce Assessment focused on four key areas:

  • Culture
  • Employee Engagement
  • Wellness
  • Diversity and Inclusion

The assessment process involved

  • interviews at the senior staff level
  • voluntary interviews with a number of members of management and employees
  • an anonymous all-staff survey
  • several focus groups with employees from across the Museums

Conclusions and Recommendations

The assessment provided five key takeaways:

  1. Among employees, there is a strong sense of loyalty and commitment to the Museums’ mandate. Our people are engaged and have a sense of pride and accomplishment.
  2. Trust and comfort exist most commonly within immediate teams. Employees expressed confidence in their direct managers, and in each other as supportive teammates.
  3. Issues with trust in leadership and across teams were reflected in the assessment results. This feedback included allowing undesirable behaviour to continue, and team members experiencing a lack of stability due to so many acting positions and shifting priorities.
  4. Progress is under way. The People and Culture branch has made significant changes to its policies, programs and services, a highlight being the renewal of the Harassment and Violence in the Workplace Policy.
  5. There is a strong appetite for change and a feeling that now is the time to act.

This assessment resulted in six recommendations for action:

  1. Define core values
  2. Offer leadership development, coaching and training
  3. Stabilize the leadership team
  4. Establish a sense of trust and community
  5. Define a desired culture
  6. Address barriers to diversity and inclusion

To learn more, read the full report.

The Path Forward

These findings are critical to our path forward together. As we work to imagine what the best employee experience looks like, several important initiatives are currently under way.

Action Plan to Enhance Our Employee Experience

We are forging ahead with a new cultural transformation action plan to improve the employee experience. Based on employee feedback, this action plan focuses on four pillars:

  • Shaping our culture
  • Strengthening employee engagement
  • Strengthening well-being and mental health
  • Strengthening diversity and inclusion

Executive leaders are championing an Action Plan to enhance our experience, and employees have opportunities to personally participate in its implementation through advisory working groups that have been created to help improve our organizational culture. Our broader workforce will be informed and consulted regularly throughout the rollout of the Plan.

Progress is already being made on action plan commitments:

Corporate Values Exercise

Informed by employee feedback about the key elements of our organizational culture, the Museum has developed a set of clearly defined values that reflect the best of who we are and what we can be together.

Launched with employees in early 2023, these core values will provide the Museums with a shared foundation for the way forward.

Learn more about the Museum’s Corporate Values.

Modernization of Operational Governance Model

To collaborate in a way that values our employees’ expertise and experience, we are modernizing our operational governance structure. Once finalized, committees with representatives from across the Museums will take decisions or make recommendations to executive leadership. Outcome: As we work toward stabilizing leadership, strengthen trust and a sense of community.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategy and Plan

In order to foster an open, inclusive, non-discriminatory workplace where every employee can grow, develop and contribute with pride, we are developing a strategic, proactive and coordinated approach to challenge deep-rooted systems and practices that need to change. The outcome will be that we have embarked on a journey of learning, while increasing awareness and proactivity on diversity and inclusion.

Accessibility Plan

Including and welcoming people with disabilities in all aspects of our organization is a top priority for the Museums. In December 2022, the Museum released its first Accessibility Plan. We are committed to improving accessibility by implementing this Plan over the next three years.

To learn more about the Museum’s Accessibility Plan, read the electronic version. This version works with assistive technology.

Human Resources Audit

We have also reviewed all our human resources policies, practices and procedures. Led by an external consultant, the assessment report contained a number of recommendations, all of which were approved by the Board of Trustees and are being implemented.

Looking Ahead

The Museum is committed to a comprehensive renewal, which is aligned with a renewal at the Board level. The Museum’s Board of Trustees is reviewing its own Governance model to ensure that the proper framework is in place to provide strong strategic direction and support the Museum’s work, mission and values going forward.

There is still much work ahead. But we could not have come this far without the generosity of the Museums’ employees, who gave their time and valuable feedback. We are committed to maintaining an open dialogue with all employees, through respectful and transparent communications.

Positive change for the future. A renewed employee experience.

We are getting there, together.

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