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Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: update and next steps

October 02, 2019
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By Joy Johnson, vice-president, research and international

As the president announced earlier this week, I have the privilege of chairing a committee of the executive to advance SFU’s work in matters of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). I am so pleased to take on this accountability, both because I think this is an opportunity to support change for our institution and because it’s personally meaningful for me.

I’m hearing concerns from our community, and a belief that we must do more and better. I share those concerns, and strongly agree that it is time to act. There are several areas where it’s clear we need to take action, including supporting the trans and gender diverse community, addressing racism and improving accessibility on our campuses.

Addressing systemic issues can seem intimidating, but I believe it’s important that we start from a framework of possibility. We have strengths we can build on. Our Canada Research Chair EDI Action Plan program has been recognized as a national leader. Other institutions are eager to learn from our work. An EDI community conversation process commenced last year and provides a report on actionable insights to guide our next steps. And we have completed reports into employment systems and salary equity.

While we look forward to more input, the insights gathered provide a path forward. What we’ve heard from our community is that it’s time to act on what we know now, while continuing to gather data and insights.  

SFU has been selected to be part of a pilot program through the federal government that intends to guide institutions in their efforts to foster transformational change via an Action Plan to identify and address systemic barriers and inequities in access, admissions, recruitment, career development, pay, working and learning conditions, resources, retention, and progression. Access to this external guidance and expertise will support our next steps.

Based on input we have heard, we are committing to delivering on the following before the end of 2019:

  • Improved resourcing, including centralized accountability to the president and executive, supported by:
    • Full-time coordinator to align EDI activities across SFU
    • Full-time EDI staff member in  Faculty Relations
    • Full-time EDI staff member in HR
    • Full-time EDI staff member in Student Services
  • Data gathering. We will launch a survey of staff and faculty in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion in mid-November. This will help us learn more about our community, but it’s only a first step. There will be more to do.
  • A centralized communication hub on sfu.ca. This resource will include EDI activities happening across SFU, resources, training and learning opportunities, and updates from SFU’s senior leadership.

We will continue to engage with stakeholders across campus as we develop robust programs and policies informed by the needs of the community. To inform this important work, we will be seeking participation in an advisory group. More detail will be shared soon, and I encourage you to consider joining this effort. We all have a role to play in creating an inclusive community, and your input is valued.

There is important work ahead. We need to redouble our efforts to create a safe and inclusive campus where we can all thrive.