Findings from SFU's first Diversity Meter now available

June 22, 2020

In November 2019, SFU launched its first Diversity Meter, a survey implemented to help the university better understand and serve its unique staff and faculty community. The results have been summarized in a report by the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI) and are now available to view in full on the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) website.

2,100 active staff and faculty members (38.3% of those surveyed) responded, surpassing the average response rate for staff and faculty surveys at the university.

“We are grateful for the experiences shared by those who chose to participate,” says Joy Johnson, SFU’s vice-president research and international and chair of the executive sub-committee on equity, diversity and inclusion. “Your insights help us understand where we need to focus our efforts.”

Diversity Meter comes as one of several EDI-focused commitments made last fall. These commitments include establishing an executive leadership committee, creating four EDI-dedicated staff positions and developing a centralized EDI website.

Report findings and recommendations

The Diversity Meter report includes a demographic profile of staff and faculty in various groups across the university, as well as findings on the inclusion climate at SFU.

While SFU staff and faculty believe they are treated fairly and with respect overall, the report highlights several areas for improvement. Survey respondents indicated that they would like to see a stronger commitment from senior leaders to equity, diversity and inclusion, better supports for physical and mental well-being, and more support for employees who have experienced harassment, discrimination and workplace bias at SFU.

“I want to make one thing very clear to those who responded to Diversity Meter, and to the entire SFU community: we hear you,” says Johnson. “The data shows that we have much work to do in addressing under-representation throughout the university, but also that representation is not enough.

“We are concerned that there are staff and faculty from Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities, the LGBTQ2+ community, and those living with disabilities, who do not feel included and valued. More than that, we are deeply troubled that individuals from these groups have experienced harm in our community, and we must address the systems which allow discrimination to occur.”

As part of the report, the CCDI has outlined seven key recommendations for SFU moving forward. These recommendations include providing organization-wide education and training on workplace bias, harassment and discrimination, reviewing policies and practices for work-flexibility options, particularly for employees who are caretakers, and assessing SFU’s current advancement practices to look for biases that might be serving as barriers to inclusion.

In September, Johnson will host a town hall in her new capacity as president and vice-chancellor to hear the SFU community’s reflections on the report and address its findings, recommendations and next steps for the institution.

This is just the beginning

The EDI executive sub-committee and administrative group are currently reviewing recommendations made by the CCDI, along with findings from the VP Academic report and the salary equity report, and are using them to develop, improve and evaluate equity, diversity and inclusion-related programs, policies and practices.

This work will be done alongside many EDI-related initiatives currently underway at SFU, such as reviews of SFU’s Employment Equity Policy (GP 19), conflict resolution pathways and mechanisms, and recruitment practices, alongside an overall effort to increase EDI capacity among community members through education and training.

The university also recently became a pilot member in the federal Dimensions program, which aims to identify and eliminate obstacles and inequities at Canadian post-secondary institutions. Dimensions pilot institutions are co-developing a self-assessment process which will ultimately result in the creation of action plans to address identified obstacles and inequities.

“Universities like SFU originate from eurocentrism, colonialism and bureaucracies that reinforce systems of power and privilege and leave many on the margins, preventing individuals from fully participating in university life. It is our responsibility and our challenge to not only help people overcome barriers, but also to create more equitable policies, processes, and operations,” says Johnson.

“This will not be quick and it will not be easy, but I want you to know that we are committed to creating an SFU where all who work or study here feel a sense of belonging, fairness and respect.”

Learn more about Diversity Meter at SFU by visiting the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion website.