Message from the Vice-President, People, Equity and Inclusion

June 01, 2022

It is now just over a month since I joined SFU in the new role of Vice President, People, Equity and Inclusion (PEI). My thanks to so many of you for the warm welcome. I am feeling very much at home, and am excited for what the future holds.

As I’ve been settling in, having onboarding conversations, listening to your feedback and taking in our community aspirations, it is clear that we have a lot of opportunity before us. I am often asked if I am overwhelmed by the challenges ahead. Yes and no. Yes, there is much to do in every area of the portfolio, but I know that succumbing to overwhelm will not serve me or any of us. Instead, I am choosing to hold the big picture in mind and remain steadfast in the knowledge that by working together, and with a clear purpose, we will collectively continue to make steady progress toward the transformational changes we are all seeking.

My first priority has been to establish a leadership team and structures to support the significant work ahead. As previously updated, the search for the two Executive Director roles in human resources/labour relations and people/organization development, are now complete. The search for an inaugural Executive Director role for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is underway. This leader will work with me to establish our Equity Office. I also continue to work with VPA Catherine Dauvergne and AVPA Wade Parkhouse on the transition plan for faculty relations to move into the PEI portfolio on June 30.

I have reviewed a significant amount of collective feedback from Executive and Senior Leadership, Deans, Special Advisors to the President, colleagues leading intersecting departments and units, each of our Bargaining Units’ Leadership, community groups, and reviewing various reports and surveys. I still have some conversations to have, but in the meantime I have now worked with the PEI teams to set priorities for the rest of this fiscal year.

People Strategies Priorities (Human Resources/Labour Relations and People/Organization Development)

  1. Review services to improve people experience, optimize service delivery and ensure alignment to People Strategies focused on relevant and timely recruitment, retention and wellness strategies for current and future employees in the post-COVID context with an emphasis on change management and communication
  2. Develop, communicate and align to a philosophy for employee group engagement to rebuild trust and positively transform relationships with all unions and associations

Equity Office Priorities

  1. Align executive support, mobilize resources, develop a project plan and launch change and communications campaign to collect inaugural demographic data baseline and systemize equity data collection into the future
  2. Mobilize team/committee to develop plan for SFU’s response to the Accessibility Act
  3. Review our employment lifecycle and campus experience with a particular focus on developing programs with equity-deserving groups to support belonging and thriving in all of our SFU community

Faculty Relations Priorities

  1. Strengthen service delivery and operational excellence, including new faculty onboarding, Support to faculty admin/leader roles, and faculty life cycle review to identify opportunities and take improvement actions accordingly
  2. Develop plan/process to support cluster and preferential hires (special programs) including working to fulfill our institutional commitment to further diversify, such as fulfilling our commitment to hiring 15 Black faculty members

With key positions in place and immediate priorities identified and underway, I will shift my focus to developing the broad strategies that will guide the team’s work for years to come:

  1. Institutional People Strategy, and change engagement framework
  2. Institutional Equity Compass and Journey Map

To develop these institutional directions, my team and I will be hosting a number of round table conversations. I would love to have you attend one of those sessions to share your thoughts.

I am sharing these goals with you to provide transparency and clarity in regard to the emerging work of the PEI office and in the spirit of mutuality and inclusive excellence so that all of us, as a PEI and  SFU community, can be engaged in thinking and working together to achieve these goals. My team and I will be in touch to share opportunities to engage in our strategy development round tables and for direct engagement and support as the case may be to advance our immediate priorities.

I look forward to working with all of you and believe that as we engage and work together to achieve our institutional goals, we will continue to strengthen our reach and impact as Canada’s Engaged University.


Yabome Gilpin-Jackson
Vice-President, People, Equity and Inclusion
Simon Fraser University