Privation of Inclusion: An Exploration of the Stealth and the Strategy that Sabotaged Racialized Public Servants’ Career Mobility in British Columbia, Canada

AuthorFarid Asey
Published date01 November 2022
Date01 November 2022
Subject MatterArticles
Administration & Society
2022, Vol. 54(10) 1931 –1964
© The Author(s) 2022
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/00953997211073742
Privation of Inclusion:
An Exploration of
the Stealth and the
Strategy that Sabotaged
Racialized Public
Servants’ Career Mobility
in British Columbia,
Farid Asey1
This paper qualitatively examines “privation of inclusion” at work in the
lived experiences of racialized participants hired in publicly funded places
of employment. Taking the position that the dualistic inclusion-exclusion
paradigm fails to capture their lived realities with inclusive exclusions and
exclusive inclusions, it presents privative inclusion as a third space, between
inclusion and exclusion, for a more robust framework in understanding
how racialized bodies were marked and targeted for differential treatment.
The paper then outlines and discusses findings as key indicators of privative
mechanisms that had undermined life chances by limiting career mobility of
racialized participants of this study. It concludes by emphasizing the need for
additional research in this area given the salience of racism at work as well
as the demographic changes that Canada is currently experiencing.
1Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, ON, Canada
Corresponding Author:
Farid Asey, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, 246 Bloor Street
West, Toronto, ON M5S 1V4, Canada.
1073742AAS0010.1177/00953997211073742Administration & SocietyAsey
1932 Administration & Society 54(10)
workplace inclusion, public sector racism, employment discrimination,
racialization at work, racial inequalities
The murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by a White police offi-
cer in Minneapolis has galvanized a series of racial solidarity events that have
put on display the full range of anguish that Black, Indigenous, and other
racialized communities have been feeling about longstanding racial justice
issues in Canada, in the United States and around the globe (Deliso, 2020;
Tasker, 2020; Xi, 2020). However, the tragedy has also, and ironically so,
ignited another debate north of the border, that of Canadian exceptionalism,
mobilizing defensive postures from influential White Canadians. On June
2nd, 2020, Mr. Doug Ford, the Premier of Ontario, Canada’s most populous
province, would go on record to say that racism in Canada is not systemic and
does not have deep roots here (Xi, 2020). At about the same time, yet another
powerful White man, Mr. François Legault, the Premier of Québec, Canada’s
second most populous province, would also assert that “. . . there’s no sys-
temic discrimination. There’s no system in Québec of discrimination”
(Lapierre, 2020). While Mr. Legault still maintains the view that there is no
systematic racism in his beloved Québec, Mr. Ford would retreat from his
initial position in the face of public backlash. Other examples of such denials
include assertions by the Commissioner of Royal Canadian Mounted Police
(RCMP), Canada’s federal national police service, and other senior officials
(Morin, 2020; Wakefield & Junker, 2020). Ultimately, the language of denial
and deflection combined with fossilized Canadian exceptionalism, ensconced
in colonial overtones, create an illusion that there is no racism in Canada,
thereby ensuring that systemic discrimination is swept under, and thriving
beneath, the proverbial carpet in the country.
Although overt acts of bigotry are no longer acceptable, research evidence
suggests that the privileging of White domination, in subtle and insidious
ways, continues to cement colonial White supremacy in Canada (Banting &
Thompson, 2021; Henry, 2017; Mensah & Williams, 2017; Patterson &
Veenstra, 2016; Ramraj et al., 2016; Thobani, 2007). In fact, colonial white-
ness reverberates in the day-to-day social life of Canadians, particularly those
living in BC (Hiebert, 2017; Massarutto, 2004; Mawani, 2009; Ward, 2002).
Moreover, whiteness’s powerful structural tentacles are institutionalized and
deeply embedded in daily practices in ways that create an illusion of inclu-
sion, a façade that makes it harder to identify sources and operations of power
(Das Gupta, 2008; Henry & Tator, 2010; Razack, 2010). These forces are also
behind the conflation of giving entry to the racialized with their inclusion in
Asey 1933
certain institutional environments-and the confusion of their presence with
their acceptance and tolerance in these contexts.
Objectives and Outline
This study offers an examination of highly sophisticated, subtle and insidious
mechanisms through which workplace racial discrimination in form of priva-
tion of inclusion persisted in hiring and promotional decision making. The
site for the study was publicly funded places of employment in British
Columba (BC), Canada, an institutional context that is significant consider-
ing the fact that workers for these employers offered services directly to the
general public. More importantly, these institutions were mostly led by
elected officials who, under Canada’s parliamentary democracy and the
Westminster model of representative government, were Members of the BC
Legislative Assembly and appointed as ministers of the government (Brooks,
2015). As such, the privation of inclusion that is outlined in this paper
occurred under the watchful eyes of the executive branch of the government,
the body that derives its legitimacy from the electoral process by virtue of
symbolizing not only the will of British Columbians but also the confidence
of the legislative body that they represented (Brooks, 2015).
Against this backdrop, the present article examines privation of inclusion
as an apparatus of racial discrimination that signifies the absence of meaning-
ful inclusion rather than an outright and blunt denial of it. As part of this
endeavour, it investigates the lived experiences of non-White participants to
understand how they were marked and targeted for differential treatment at
work. To this end, taking the position that everyday racism is not the inevi-
table outcome of human difference but of deliberate processes (Essed, 1991,
2007), the paper will then outline and discuss the study’s findings in form of
job description manipulation, benevolent preclusion, filtering out, cultural
deficit fallacy, and temporary assignment backchannel as key indicators of
how these mechanisms had undermined the life chances of participants by
limiting their career mobility and denying them access to workplace advance-
ment opportunities.
Privation of Inclusion: Utility of the Framework
and the Nexus With Other Theories
Privation of inclusion offers a conceptual framework to explain how racial-
ized employment discriminations occur in public institutional spheres. The
framework identifies specific mechanisms used to deny racialized workers
unfettered access to workplace mobility, inclusion, and enjoyment. It also

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