The landscape of recruiting top talent has taken a turn in Quebec. The province’s Bill 21 is the only legislation in North America that imposes a secular dress code for public servants. This means that you can be fired for any religious attire you wear to work if your employer provides government services to the general public.
However, some companies are adopting the push for a secular workforce in other sectors. In 2019, the province boasts the lowest unemployment rate since 1976, leaving job seekers with many employment options… and many questions. Employers need to introduce inclusive and diverse recruitment strategies to set candidate minds at ease.
Montreal’s leading sales & marketing recruiter, Melanie Diotte with Eximius Personnel, raised the issue in a recent LinkedIn post that has resonated with many community members.
“It wasn’t the first time this topic came up. I felt I needed to shine a light on it and see what my network of professions had experienced. I’m fortunate to work with clients who value a diverse work force and welcome hires based on their skills and talents, not based on their religious affiliations.”
Melanie DiotteSales Recruiter, Eximius Personnel
But this is not the case everywhere. A commenter shared “I hear people saying loudly that they will never accept a women with hijab.” These types of comments in a professional setting are damaging to the morale of the existing work force and eat away at the working culture organizations work hard to build.
Some are quick to blame the current government, but others point out the fact that discrimination has always existed in Quebec’s society. Having said all that, commenters agree that it’s not right and it’s immoral, but it doesn’t make it less evident, and it doesn’t stop at Islam. The law covers religious symbols across the board.
At the end of the day, Melanie said it best: “what a sad state of affairs this city is in“ where we’re asking ourselves, and each other, these types of questions when it comes to our career journey. As an advocate for the candidates she represents, it’s heart-breaking to have conversations with them, and with employers, around topics that were a given, and illegal to discuss in the context of a job offer a short time ago.
What makes it more frustrating is that the topic of wearing religious symbols remains irrelevant to performance, experience and skillsets.
Operating in Quebec has a new layer of complexity and businesses need to figure out what side of the fence they’re on. Has it affected your business?