Men still dominate the Halifax Regional Municipality workforce, but there is more diversity among new municipal staff, according to a report presented to Halifax regional council on Tuesday.

Britt Wilson, executive director with human resources with HRM, made a presentation on the annual workforce report during Halifax regional council’s meeting on Tuesday. The report details the status of the HRM workforce as of March 31, 2023.

According to the report, HRM has 3,265 full and part-time employees. Another 1,321 staff were categorized as “other” and include crossing guards, and temporary and seasonal employees.

The average employee age is 45.41 and the average years of services is 11.11. Those two figures have remained around the same for the last five years.

So, too, has the number of men compared to women in the municipality’s workforce.

A table showing a breakdown of employees in several unions groups, including ATU 508, CUPE 108, HRPA, IAFF 268, non-union, NSGEU 222, and NSGEU 107. The employee numbers are broken down into columns of total number of employees in each union groups, whether they are men or women, average age, and average years of service.
Credit: Annual Workforce Report, 2022/23

The largest difference between genders in HRM is among workers Halifax Transit, Halifax Fire, and those workers represented by CUPE 108. That union represents 269 employees who work in HRM public works, parks and recreation, property, fleet, and environment, and finance and asset management.

The only two union groups where women outnumber men are in NSGEU 222 (which represents administrative workers) and non-union roles within HRM.

“We continue to build recruitment and retention strategies to increase representation of females in our workforce, including engagement with community partners such as Women Unlimited, Nova Scotia Works, and Job Junction, and encourage business units to post jobs as designated or preference given to qualified candidates who self-identify as a member of an employment equity group,” the report said.

External hiring increasing diversity in workforce

A table showing recruitment in HRM from 2018 to 2023. Details include the number of job postings, number of candidates, number of candidates from employment equity groups, total number of hires, number of hires from employment equity groups, and percentage hired from employment equity groups.
Credit: Annual Workforce Report 2022/23

“We believe, a contributing factor to the increased number of candidates who are choosing to self-identify at the time of application is our community engagement through events such as the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre Job Fair, the BIPOC Atlantic Job Fair, and partnerships with organizations such as the Immigrant Settlement Association Nova Scotia, promoting the municipality as an employer with members of employment equity groups,” the report said.

During council’s meeting, CAO Cathie O’Toole noted the amount of new employees who are from employment equity groups at 41.84%, the highest that number has been in the last five years. Employment equity groups include Indigenous people, Black people, people of colour, and immigrants.

“I think it’s a very positive thing for our inclusivity and diversity objectives at the municipality,” O’Toole said. “I’d also like to note that the number of diverse applications or equity-seeking applicants to our positions has also increased significantly over last year, which is a good thing.”

Raise in external hirings

In his presentation, Wilson noted that 354 of the new employees at HRM were external candidates. Coun. Paul Russell called that number “fantastic.”

“The external hires is a really significant number. The reason for that is if we only hire internally, we will do nothing to increase diversity,” Russell said. “By having a higher number of external hires, we will be able to increase diversity.

Last year, council requested that the workforce reports include more information, including the number of job postings, the number of candidates who apply for those jobs, training programs offered to HRM staff, as well as more details on sick time and Workers’ Compensation claims.

Data on HRM’s workforce will now also be collected and displayed in a workforce dashboard, which will updated frequently and be provided to councillors on a quarterly basis.

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent and on Mastodon

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