Recognized as one of BC's Top Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 21, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why Vancouver, City of was selected as one of BC's Top Employers (2019):
- City of Vancouver offers maternity leave top-up payments for its new moms (varying by employee group) and returning employees are offered priority placement at a daycare centre located across the street from City Hall
- City of Vancouver manages the unique "FitCity" incentive program, offering employees the chance to earn redeemable points through leading a healthy lifestyle, physical activity and sustainable living behaviours, such as walking or cycling to work
- Along with being certified as a "Living Wage" employer, City of Vancouver helps employees save for the future with contributions to a defined benefit pension plan and offers retirement planning assistance
City of Vancouver employees encouraged to reach high
For Eleena Marley, the best part about working for the City of Vancouver is the work itself. She oversees colleagues handling big strategic issues such as affordable housing, electric vehicle programs and economic development. "It's fascinating, rewarding and very challenging," says Marley, associate director of business planning and project support. "We're really trying to make a difference."
And there are many different ways to make a difference in such a large, diverse organization, says deputy city manager Paul Mochrie. "We've got a lot of different types of jobs and that creates great career opportunities," he says. "People have the opportunity to move around and pursue their career in different lines of business."
That applies to administrative staff as well as managers, directors and others in leadership roles. Mochrie joined the City seven years ago as general manager of human resources and has since transitioned over to his current position of deputy City Manager.
The City provides a suite of in-house training and development programs. Marley has participated in a half-day cultural competency course as part of the city's commitment to truth and reconciliation. As well, she took a resilient leadership course that involved six half-day sessions.
"I've been impressed with the training and development delivered by the City," says Marley. "It's really strategic, really value-added, forward-thinking and relevant."
The City has a number of programs and initiatives aimed at promoting the health and wellness of its workforce - and that includes mental and emotional well-being. Mochrie says that first-responders in rire and rescue services, as well as frontline employees in other services, frequently deal with situations that can lead to high levels of occupational stress and even post-traumatic stress disorder.
As a result, the City has expanded its counselling services and its family assistance program, and the fire department has created a mental health coordinator position to deal with some of the systemic issues that first-responders face.
The City has a sustainable commuting program that offers employees rebates on transit fares. Employees also have access to a digital app that facilitates carpooling, and there are end-of-trip facilities at many City buildings to encourage cycling. These include indoor bike locks, change rooms and showers. As well, some City buildings have on-site gyms where employees can participate in fitness classes, and City staff are eligible for 50 per cent discounts at community centres.
Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2019):
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 28, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why Vancouver, City of was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2019):
- In 2018, City of Vancouver adopted an extensive, long-term strategy to address systemic issues that impact women's full inclusion -- the strategy includes a number of short-term actions that span five priority areas, such as women's safety and violence against women, affordable quality childcare, and women's leadership and representation in the workforce
- City of Vancouver continues to implement recommendations from the city's Trans*, Gender Variant & Two-Spirit Inclusion Report, such as updating city facilities, policies and procedures -- recommendations include specific actions in the areas of signage and literature, public spaces (including washrooms and change rooms), training and staff policies, programming, and collaborative public and community partnerships
- The City embarked on its seventh annual mentorship program for new Canadians, offered in partnership with the Immigration Employment Council of British Columbia and various service providers (nearly 200 mentoring matches have been made since the program's inception)
The City of Vancouver has a broad diversity strategy
For a number of years the City of Vancouver has had a Respectful Workplace Policy, training programs to eliminate bullying, harassment and discrimination and several other policies and programs to ensure that every employee - regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation - feels welcome and included.
"It's really the key to driving excellence, innovation and engagement," says Anne Nickerson, Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. "It underscores the City's commitment to hiring a workforce that reflects the community we serve."
That said, there's still work to be done. In 2018, the City launched a number of ambitious initiatives aimed at - among other things - addressing female under-representation in some professions, while continuing to enhance the City's relationship with local Indigenous communities and eliminating barriers for trans, gender variant and two-spirit individuals.
"We want to infuse diversity and inclusion throughout our entire organization," says Sandra Singh, General Manager, Arts, Culture and Community Services. "That's the ultimate goal."
Last January, City Council approved a 10-year women's equity strategy and established actions related to five themes for phase one, covering 2018-19. The City hopes to increase the number of women in leadership roles at all levels and to address underrepresentation in the fire services, information technology, trades and operations.
One of the first concrete measures was to create a new assistant chief of outreach and recruitment at the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services with a mandate to increase workforce diversity.
The council has approved a City of delivery of services. "We offer our staff online and in-class cultural competency training as part of our City of Reconciliation strategy," says Nickerson. "And we're creating specific positions forIndigenous planning staff."
The City now has an Indigenous Relations Manager as well as several Indigenous social and cultural planners employed in a number of business units such as the Park Board and Social Policy. "They liaise and work with Indigenous service groups and the broader community," says Singh. "They bring their lived experience to internal matters, they work at the project level and they make recommendations on policy and strategy."
Under the City's Trans*, Gender Variant and Two-Spirit Inclusion initiative, the Human Resources department has developed online resources and training materials to raise awareness among staff and managers. "We've done a lot of training with our staff on serving people in those communities and we're always seeking job applications from diverse communities," says Nickerson.
The City has also adopted gender-neutral signage outside washrooms and change rooms. "We have always been careful to ensure that our work sites welcome people with differences," says Nickerson. "We want people to bring their whole, authentic selves to work and not feel they can't be who they really are."
For the past seven years, up to 40 City employees have participated annually in a program called Mentorship for New Immigrant Professionals, which is offered in partnership with the Immigrant Employment Council of B.C. Mentors introduce the newcomers to contacts in their field, explain the work environment in Canada and help them prepare resumes.
"Many mentees who have gone through the program have found employment in their fields, including some who are now employed with the City in engineering, human resources and planning," says Nickerson.
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 14, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why Vancouver, City of was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2019):
- As part of its Greenest City Action Plan adopted in 2011, the City of Vancouver's modest goal is to make Vancouver "the greenest city in the world" by 2020 -- the plan covers a range of strategies and actions, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, making walking, cycling and public transit the preferred modes of transport, having the best drinking water and cleanest air in the world, and becoming a leader in urban food systems
- City of Vancouver strongly encourages residents and employees to help become part of its Greenest City Action Plan through a number of programs, including a solar home program to encourage the adoption of solar technology, the Greenest City grant program to fund community groups and resident initiatives, the Grow Natural home yard care program, rainwater barrel and water conservation programs, the creation of over 4,000 community garden plots (with more coming), and the Green Homes program to promote leading-edge green construction as well as green deconstruction permits to promote recycling and proper disposal of construction waste
The City of Vancouver takes going green to new levels
In 2011, Vancouver city council adopted its Greenest City Action Plan and set 2020 as the deadline to become - as the name suggests - the greenest municipality in the world. "It was an ambitious, aspirational statement, a calling to arms," says Doug Smith, Director of Sustainability for the City of Vancouver. "We haven't met every target we set, but we have surpassed many of them."
Council set city-wide targets, but opted to lead through example by setting goals for reducing waste, greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption from its own operations while also encouraging staff to commute by public transit or bicycle.
Goals and objectives have been set at the top, but staff at all levels have bought into the Greenest City program. "We devolved responsibility to each department," says Lloyd Lee, Monitoring and Reporting Planner in the Sustainability Group. "They know their operations so we gave them the latitude to define how we meet our targets."
By 2017, the City had reduced greenhouse gas emissions within its own operations by 55 per cent from emission levels in 2007. It achieved that by retrofitting some of the 600 City-owned buildings, by replacing gas-powered light passenger vehicles with electrics or hybrids and by installing gas wells to capture methane from City-owned landfill sites, which it then sells to a privately-owned greenhouse company.
Since the adoption of the plan, the City has reduced by 92 per cent the amount of waste from internal operations that goes to landfills. Employees no longer have waste baskets at their desks. Instead, waste stations are located in the kitchen on each floor and there are separate bins for paper, hard plastics, soft plastics, recyclable cans and organics.
The waste coming out of City buildings is weighed by category daily before being shipped to a landfill or recycling facility. "If the numbers are going in the wrong direction, we do outreach to staff," says Smith.
The City has also developed an innovative method of reducing the amount of paper generated by staff. Printers are centralized in each building and the number of these machines has been reduced by one-third. Employees can input instructions to print a document while sitting at their desks, but must go to the printer and swipe their pass card before the order is fulfilled. If they fail to do this within 24 hours, the order evaporates.
Printers display an "Are you sure?" message when someone orders a print run exceeding 30 pages and managers receive monthly reports on printing by staff members. The City has reduced the number of pages printed by 192,000 per year since these measures were introduced.
The City has also adopted a robust commuting program that encourages staff to leave their cars at home and get to and from work by bicycle or public transit. Employees can log their trips and earn points for prizes such as spring tune-ups of their bikes.
Lee cycles to work daily - a six-kilometre round trip that includes stops at a daycare and a school for his two children and one steep hill to ascend and descend. "Some of my colleagues ride in from the North Shore, which is 40 minutes one way and means crossing two bridges," he says.
Having made impressive strides towards the goal of becoming the greenest city in the world by 2020 - or at least a global leader - the City has set more ambitious goals for the future. In 2015, council adopted the Renewable City Carbon Plan with the goal of reducing city-wide carbon emissions to zero by 2050 and relying entirely on renewables for heat and electricity.