Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in Research

St. Thomas University is committed to the principles and best practices of equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility, and we strive to apply these principles to our participation in the Canada Research Chairs Program and our research mandate.

 

In our hiring practices, we are committed to employment equity for women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities. We recognize that a more diverse scholarly community enhances our research capacity and potential for research excellence. We acknowledge that the land on which St. Thomas University is located is the traditional territory of the Wolastoqiyik, Wəlastəkewiyik / Maliseet, whose ancestors, along with the Mi’Kmaq / Mi’kmaw and Passamaquoddy / Peskotomuhkati Tribes / Nations, signed Peace and Friendship Treaties with the British Crown in the 1700s.

 

As a participating institution in the Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP), we are in alignment with that program’s . The CRCP has undertaken a range of measures to address the underrepresentation of individuals from the four designated groups (women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities), based on a 2006 Canadian Human Rights Settlement Agreement and its subsequent .

 

These measures include:

 

  • Setting and enforcing targets over the ten-year period between 2019 and 2029 for institutions to align their Canada Research Chairs to reflect representation within the Canadian population.
  • Collecting disaggregated self-identification data from nominees and chairholders with respect to gender identity of expression, disability, Indigenous, race, and sexual identities, and sexual orientation, and publicly report such data on an intersectional basis subject to the federal privacy Act.
  • Requiring participating institutions to meet annual public accountability and transparency requirements, with required information being made available on their public websites.
  • Requiring participating institutions to develop EDI Action Plans, which are externally reviewed and reported upon annually.

EDI Action Plans

Institutions with five or more chair allocations have been required to develop since December 2017, whereas institutions with fewer than five chairs (like ҹav) were originally exempt from this requirement. The 2019 Addendum stipulated that institutions with fewer than five chairs would be required to develop EDI Action Plans, with adapted requirements “to reflect the capacity of these smaller sized institutions while maintaining a strong commitment to the principles of EDI”.

 

Although smaller institutions have not yet been given a deadline to develop these EDI Action Plans, St. Thomas University has embarked on a process to meet this requirement.

 

EDI Action Plans are used to guide efforts to address the underrepresentation of individuals from the four designated groups (FDGs) among chair allocations, and to address disadvantages that individuals from FDGs experience. The plans must include the following minimal components:

 

  1. Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Objectives and Measurement Strategies, developed on the basis of:
  • An employment systems review to examine recruitment practices, barriers having an adverse effect on the employment of individuals from the FDGs, and corrective measures that will be taken to address systemic inequities
  • A comparative review by gender, designated group, and field of research of the level of institutional support provided to all current chairholders, including measures to address systemic inequities
  • An environmental scan to gauge the health of the institution’s current workplace environment and its impact on its ability to meet EDI objectives
  • The institution’s unique challenges based on its characteristics (size, location, etc.) in meeting its targets, and how these will be managed and mitigated
  1. Management of Canada Research Chair Allocations, providing a description of policies and procedures for recruiting, renewing, and managing CRCs

  2. Collection of Equity and Diversity Data, providing a description of the processes and strategies for collecting and protecting data on the four designated groups

  3. Retention and Inclusivity, providing a description of how a supportive and inclusive workplace for chairholders is maintained, what supports are in place for retaining individuals from the four designated groups, and how equity concerns and complaints are addressed

Although the development of an EDI Action Plan is a specific requirement of the Canada Research Chairs Program, we hope to use this opportunity to investigate issues pertaining to equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility on campus more broadly, with a particular focus on faculty research.

Advisory Committee on EDI in Research

In 2022 we formed an Interim Advisory Committee on EDI in Research to guide this process. ҹav has successfully obtained funding from the Canada Research Chairs Program to complete a detailed investigation into EDI issues on campus, and we have engaged the services of the . to assist us. CCDI Consulting is an award-winning firm with extensive experience in the field of workplace diversity and inclusion, and their team of consultants is helping ҹav to undertake the following activities:

 

ACTIVITY

TIMEFRAME

STATUS

Employment Systems Review - survey of faculty & staff

March-April 2023

complete

Employment Systems Review – interviews with leadership team and past/current Canada Research Chairs

Summer 2023

ongoing

Employment Systems Review – review and analysis of policies and procedures

Summer 2023

ongoing

Diversity Meter – survey of faculty & staff (see explanation below)

October 2023

in preparation

Diversity Meter – focus groups with members of equity-seeking groups

Late Fall 2023

in preparation

Summary report and recommendations

Early Winter 2024

in preparation

Guidance on development of ҹav’s first EDI Action Plan

Winter 2024

in preparation

Diversity Meter

The Diversity Meter is a particularly important part of this process, with the goal of determining the current state of our diversity and climate of inclusion. The data from this survey will provide us with a snapshot of our workforce through demographic representation, feelings of inclusion, and additional comments. CCDI Consulting will use this data to develop recommendations for improving diversity and inclusion within our scholarly community.

 

The Diversity Meter has two sections. The first section will ask you about your role at St. Thomas University, and information about your identities. The second section will ask you about your feelings about inclusion at St. Thomas University. Although some of these questions may seem a bit personal, they will help us to understand the various different dimensions of diversity at ҹav, and how our diversity mix and experiences of inclusion combine in our workplace. We hope that you will feel comfortable answering all of these questions, but if there are any questions that you do not wish to answer, you can select the “prefer not to answer” option.

 

The survey will take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete, and will be run from October 4 until October 20, 2023.

 

Your participation in Diversity Meter is crucial. This survey will help us to truly understand both who we are as a community, what your experiences are, how inclusive our community is, and what steps need to be taken to become as diverse and welcoming as possible. Completing the online survey is voluntary, but the higher the level of participation, the more accurate will be the data that we need. Diversity Meter is also strictly confidential and anonymous – all of the information that you provide will be analyzed externally by CCDI Consulting, and ҹav will only receive aggregated data. Additionally, ҹav will not receive any numbers or percentages for questions that receive fewer than five responses, in order to protect your privacy and anonymity. Nobody from ҹav will ever be able to see how any individual has responded to questions.

 

For more information, please consult the following links to CCDI Consulting’s IDEA Meter Data Privacy & Protection Charter:

 

(English)

(Français)

 

Beginning on September 27, 2023, you will receive occasional emails from CCDI Consulting about the Diversity Meter survey. They will provide instructions on how to complete the survey, and are fully endorsed by ҹav.

 

Later in the fall, CCDI Consulting will be conducting virtual focus groups with members of equity-seeking groups within our community (women, Indigenous people, persons with disabilities, members of visible minorities, and members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community). Again, participation in these focus groups will be completely voluntary and your contributions to these discussions entirely confidential. The purpose of the focus groups will be to dig more deeply into issues raised in the Diversity Meter survey, and provide members of equity-seeking groups with additional opportunities to describe their experiences.

Further Information

Your willingness to be involved in this process is greatly appreciated.

 

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Peter Toner, Associate Vice-President (Research), at avpresearch@stu.ca or 460-0365.