VIHA seeks baseline data on ethnic composition of staff, job applicants

Vancouver Health Authority began asking job applicants if they belong to a visible minority

Starting in June, 2011, the Vancouver Health Authority began asking job applicants if they belong to a visible minority, are of Aboriginal descent, or have a disability.

As of Jan. 31, current VIHA employees are also being asked to update their profiles to include this information.

“The new data will allow the organization to report on the composition of our workforce and inform future recruitment and retention initiatives,” wrote Karen Pettit, director of strategic solutions, people and organizational development, in an internal email to staff. The questions, the memo continued, are optional.

“It’s not illegal to ask those questions,” said Shannon Marshall, spokesperson for the health authority. “It has absolutely no bearing on whether you’re hired … Managers don’t know the responses applicants have made to those questions so selection will continue to be made based on applicant merit.”

The goal, she said, is to get baseline statistics in order to evaluate VIHA’s Aboriginal recruitment and retention programs.

“We’re actively promoting careers in health care to our Aboriginal youth,” said Marshall. “By asking that question, we can get a better idea of the number of Aboriginal applicants we’re getting and measure the success of those recruitment strategies.”