Good leadership requires you to surround yourself with people of diverse perspectives who can disagree with you without fear of retaliation.
—Doris Kearns Goodwin
Define: Leadership is the act of guiding others to accomplish a goal. Leaders also “influence, motivate and enable others to contribute towards the effectiveness and success to organizations to which they are members” (McShane et al., 2015 p.298). There are different perspectives to leadership, including transformation or managerial. Each perspective has different behaviours including directive, supportive, participative, or achievement oriented.
Identify: Leadership Inadequacies: Development of a strong diversity and inclusion program within a fire service must start at the top with its leaders. According to the Insights study half of all women and one-third of all men reported some form of negative interaction with leadership (p.38). Additionally, 43.2% of women and 30.1% of men reported experiencing acts of harassment and violence from leadership during their career (p. 40). These statistics are evidence of a broader issue of weak leadership development and training that needs to be addressed.
Leadership Expectations: Leaders are expected to listen and take action on harassment and violence when employees speak up. They are also expected to embrace and exemplify diversity and inclusion principles and challenge discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Leaders are also expected to cultivate an environment where they themselves are held accountable for identifying and removing systemic barriers. Inadequate commitment to these principles will destabilize fire service morale: If leaders do not practice what they advocate, their staff will not have the motivation and commitment to drive positive changes in the workplace.
Need for Training: Leaders, especially first-level officers, must be given the
opportunity to continuously improve their communication and leadership
skills through mentorship, workshops, training, and education.
Leadership training must begin at the recruit level instead of relying
on the typical use of ‘acting up’ when a member of the department is
considering promotion. Part of “walking the talk” is to demonstrate to
new candidates what diversity and inclusion means to that department.
This includes how the hiring process is conducted, the expectations of
department members regardless of rank, and the consequences if members
break diversity and inclusion policies.
Leadership Development: Leadership development requires significant time and formal resources and is often displaced due to other training requirements, complacency, or budget constraints. The Insights study found that firefighters are confident in officers’ skills in managing complex emergency scenes and creating a safe work environment, but firefighters see a need for additional training in interpersonal conflict, as well as discrimination and harassment.
The Insights Study also found that leaders and employees do not share the same view on the effectiveness of human rights and anti-harassment training. It is significant that overall, all groups surveyed had a low assessment of this type of training:
Further investigation into what is causing these disconnects as well as more research and development of fire-specific training in these topics is needed.
Treat all employees as valued members regardless of rank, gender, race, tenure, etc.
fire service leaders are trained in unconscious bias. During these
sessions, ensure that fire service-relevant scenarios are included so
participants understand the effect of behaviors already happening in the
workplace. Additional training can also be outsourced or adopted in
Develop standards for transparency and accountability (e.g.,
creating and enforcing a Code of Conduct, establishing an Integrity
Commissioner to provide advice and assist in complaint resolution and
Review policies and procedures with a diversity lens
(e.g., inclusive and neutral language) with human resources personnel
and legal teams.
Make leadership accountable for the fair treatment of women and other underrepresented groups.
Adopt mandatory conflict resolution training for all officers, including on how to deal with discrimination and harassment.
Begin leadership training as a component of firefighter skills development, rather than having leaders learn on the job.
Step 1: Size-up with SWOT Analysis
As discussed in more detail in Section 1: Introduction to Change, your fire service should take the time to evaluate its policies around leadership in consideration of your diversity and inclusion goals and targets.
Undertake a SWOT Analysis to identify your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats relevant to existing leadership requirements necessary to align with your fire service’s diversity and inclusion policies. When considering external factors compare your needs and resources against those of the larger corporation (i.e., municipality).
When considering learning and development to meet your leadership needs, use the SWOT analysis to identify how your fire service is set up to implement its diversity and inclusion policies.
Helpful to achieving objectives
Harmful to achieving objectives
Healthy learning & development budget
No suitable trainers
Catalogue of leadership courses
No available resources
Available subject matter experts
Training material outdated
Facilities to conduct training
Training material not approved
Training material not suitable
Subject matter experts available
Training consultants not readily available
Access to resources
Training consultants/instructors too expensive
Access to trainers
Training material not available or outdated
Access to training material
Step 2: Build a Plan with Objectives
Based on the themes from the SWOT Analysis, begin to build your leadership learning and development priorities while aligned with your fire service’s Vision, Mission and Values in consideration of existing Diversion & Inclusion Policies. To begin, identify your fire service’s objectives using the Smart Goal method.
Smart Goals Using the SMART method, detail fire service goals related to your organization’s Leadership’s Learning and Development priorities identified during the SWOT analysis.
Example 1: WHO – Delta Fire Service WHAT – Identify list of training modules, sources, budget WHERE / WHEN – Delta Hall #6, by March 31, 2022 STANDARD (MEASURABLE) – Identify/prioritize training modules, resources and budget. Objective 1: The Delta Fire Hall #6 will identify and prioritize Leadership Training Modules, including sources and budget by March 31, 2022.
Example 2: WHO – Delta Fire Service WHAT – Create a Leadership Training Program WHERE / WHEN – Fire Hall 12 – October 2022 STANDARD (MEASURABLE) – Identify goals and objectives including training material for Leadership Training Program Objective 2: The Delta Fire Hall #12 will Develop a Leadership Training Program, outlining learning objectives and goals, including material and anticipated budget for training its Leadership Team by October 31, 2022.
Step 3: Implement your Plan
Based on your organization’s leadership learning and development needs, build your implementation plan.
This will include an outline of the program, budget details, responsibilities, and timing.
Using Objective 2 from above, the steps involved with creating an implementation plan are listed:
Leadership Development Program
Identify Leadership Training Modules
Budget / Resources:
People, time. (approx. cost)
Procedures / Actions:
Confirm Leadership Training Modules
Develop Training Description
Develop Training Context
Develop Training Objectives, including audience
Develop Learning Outcomes
Develop Training Design Considerations
Develop Instructional Methods of Delivery
Identify Transfer of Learning
Develop Evaluation Scheme
Identify Variables Measured in Training Evaluation
Identify Vendors (if required)
Human Resources: Support with training modules/resources and materials
Leadership: Attend training
Trainers: Provide subject matter expertise
Fire Chief: Approval of Training, resources and budget
Step 4: Evaluating the Plan’s Performance
Your fire service has created a plan for a leadership learning and development program. Now it is time to assess its performance. Continuing with the previous example (Objective 2), the implementation performance can be assessed using a simplified scorecard method. Recall, when applying the scorecard, you are assessing your organization against a baseline.
1. Identified Leadership and Training Modules
A comprehensive list of learning and development modules developed
2. Outline training description, context, details, etc. / per training module
Not all details are complete at this time
3. Detailed budget complete for training modules
Detailed budget found, awaiting approval.
Training modules developed in alignment with corporate diversity and inclusion policies.
Approved training modules developed in-line with latest policies
Training modules require further review for inclusion of marginalized groups
Overall: 2 Overall Leadership Training Programs have been identified, and tentatively developed. Some work required to include marginalized groups.
Step 6: Continuous Improvement
Thus far, we have walked through creating a leadership learning and development program including its objectives & goals while building an implementation plan based on said goals. These are aligned with your fire service’s diversity and inclusion policies, and finally we conducted a performance assessment against the implementation plan. At this point, your fire service will understand what is working against what is not and be able to create a continuous improvement plan.
Following through with the leadership learning and development Objective 2 and its implementation plan, a plan adjustment can look like the example shown below.
1. Detail a budget for each of the Leadership Training Modules
Develop a detailed budget including hard costs, soft costs, time and materials as well as any other budgetary details concerning external consultants required.
2. Review Leadership Training Modules to ensure they cover aspects of inclusivity, including women and marginalized groups
Develop the program being sensitive to women and marginalized groups. Ensure they include best practices and in-line with Diversity & Inclusion policies.
This report synthesizes the findings from the September 13, 2019 joint meeting of the Alberta Fire, Emergency Management and Wildfire Management Women (A FEW Women), and the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) Women Fire Chiefs and Company Officers Network of Canada.
This article explains findings that emphasize the critical role that leaders play in driving diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace, specifically in terms of creating inclusive environments where everyone can thrive. Included are three sets of takeaways, detailing how leaders can drive progress on the agenda.
This book was developed to help the fire service leader manage the changing fire service workforce as it becomes progressively more inclusive of larger numbers of women in all ranks. It offers guidance and suggestions from people with experience and expertise, and provides choices and options more often than single “right” answers.
This link describes procedures so that complaints of discrimination and harassment can be reported and resolved internally and are intended as an alternate dispute resolution. This document seeks to a) assist employees and service recipients in exercising their rights where they believe that they have experienced harassment/discrimination and b) to prevent, correct and remedy situations of discrimination or harassment and not to be punitive, although discipline may result.