The task force was established in October 2019 to provide recommendations on the process and actions required to identify and examine obstacles and inequities facing students, staff and faculty, staff at the University of Manitoba.
Community input and consultation, including a community experience survey, were key components of the task force’s work. The survey and consultations took place through the winter and spring of 2020.
Committee work by the task force included a baseline data report and an environmental scan report, as well as a community consultations report, in order to inform task force direction and to shape recommendations.
Learn more about the final report and the recommendations below, or download the report to read it in its entirety.
The EDI Task Force integrated the findings from the analysis of the various data collection activities and identified key issues to address in order to promote the advancement of EDI across the institution. The following recommendations comprise core elements of a plan for moving forward and include specific actions to guide implementation.
Recommendation 1: Leadership
Recommendation: Create an administrative structure for advancing EDI that includes a senior EDI lead to oversee EDI across the institution as well as a network of leaders working at the unit level to engage the entire UM community in working towards change.
In order to ensure that the principles of EDI are integrated throughout all aspects of the University’s mission, leadership is needed at the senior administration level and well as within each academic, administrative, and support unit. Advancing EDI is challenging; meaningful change requires UM to address systemic and structural issues that create inequity and exclude members of groups that have historically been marginalized. Progress towards the goals of greater equity and diversity within our community, and the creation of an inclusive learning and working environment requires engagement at all levels of the University. Central leadership at the level of the President’s Executive Team is required to set UM’s overall strategic direction for EDI; to initiate university-wide policies, processes, activities, and supports; and to coordinate and support EDI initiatives undertaken at the unit level. A network of strong leadership within faculties and administrative/support units is also required to ensure the engagement of the entire institution in working towards change that is responsive to the needs, priorities, and opportunities related to EDI that exist at the unit level.
The Task Force recommends the following actions to address the need for leadership and structure to advance EDI:
• Establish an EDI lead in senior administration to work directly with the President’s Executive Team to advance EDI across UM. Working with the team of Vice-Presidents, the EDI Lead will ensure that EDI is integrated into all aspects of the institution including academic programs, research, administration, and community life. The EDI lead will need to work especially closely with the VP (Indigenous) to identify ways in which collaboration and coordination can occur between efforts to advance Indigenous achievement and engagement and EDI more broadly. The EDI lead will require an understanding of university governance and have the ability to work with and across all historically excluded groups.
• The EDI lead should undertake a thorough review of existing structures, programs, positions, and offices that address EDI across the University to determine next steps for creating a structure that ensures leadership, coordination, accountability, and active engagement in advancing EDI across the entire institution.
• Building on the findings of the review outlined above, establish an EDI Office to support the EDI
• Lead in providing strategic direction, addressing accessibility, directing and coordinating the work of central support units/positions engaged in activities to advance EDI across the institution, and supporting EDI work undertaken at the unit level.
• Allocate ongoing resources through the centralized budget process to support the work of EDI.
• Ensure that increasing diversity and a commitment to EDI are considerations in the hiring of all senior administrators at UM. Applicants for senior administrative roles should be required to submit an EDI statement.
• Require new senior administrators to attend training on EDI as part of their on-boarding.
• Require all administrators (including senior administrators, department heads, and administrators of administrative/support units) to engage in activities to increase their knowledge and skills to advance EDI. Require annual reporting on their activities to advance EDI within their units/areas of responsibility.
• Ensure that all leaders of academic and administrative units appoint EDI leads to engage faculty, staff, and students in working towards the advancement of EDI within their units. This appointment should be a senior position with responsibility for advancing EDI within the unit.
• Develop a course for administrators including EDI leads that addresses EDI leadership.
Recommendation 2: Planning and Policy
Recommendation: Ensure that advancing EDI is a key element of the University’s strategic plan, is integrated into academic and administrative/support units’ plans, and is supported by the policies and guidelines governing the University.
If UM is to make significant movement towards achieving greater equity, diversity, and inclusion, EDI must be a key priority within the strategic plan of the University as well as within the unit-level strategic plans of all faculties/departments and administrative/support units. These plans must establish clear and actionable goals that lead toward greater alignment with the principles of EDI. In an effort to both lead and support change, EDI principles must be integrated into the policies and guidelines that govern the functioning of the University.
The following actions are recommended:
• Establish EDI as an institutional priority in the University’s new strategic plan with goals clearly articulated.
• Faculties and central administrative and support units should situate their EDI plans and priorities within the framework set by the University and integrate specific EDI goals and plans within their overall strategic plans. Specific action plans with measurable outcomes should be identified with annual reporting on progress.
• Develop and implement a plan to evaluate key policies that address EDI (e.g., the newly revised RWLE Policy and Sexual Violence Policy) regarding the extent to which they are effective in promoting the principles of EDI and addressing discrimination. This review should inform the need for additional policies (e.g., an EDI policy, anti-racism policy) or revision to current policies (e.g., hiring policies) to ensure that UM’s commitment to EDI is clear and actionable. There should be a regular review of EDI-related policies in light of new research and evolving best practices.
• Review hiring and advancement provisions in existing collective agreements and engage in discussion with unions about how agreements could better align with EDI goals. Include the advancement of EDI as an important element in the review/evaluation/approval process for of all policies and guidelines (including both University policies and unit-level guidelines).
Recommendation 3: Monitoring, Measuring Progress, and Accountability
Recommendation: Develop plans, processes, and supports for evaluating and reporting progress on EDI goals to ensure accountability and to inform future action.
In order to ensure ongoing movement towards advancing the principles of EDI, the progress of the University and each unit towards achieving it strategic goals related to EDI must be monitored and measured. This will require that goals be defined in measurable terms and that data be collected and available to assess change. While relatively recent changes have been made to the collection of diversity data on faculty and staff (through UCount), the collection of student data is very limited. There are a number of challenges to data collection that will need to addressed to improve UM’s baseline data on diversity. Other markers of progress will also need to be identified, measured, and monitored. The effectiveness of specific activities and initiatives implemented to achieve goals will need to be assessed, both to chart progress and, when necessary, to signal the need for new approaches. Accountability for ongoing efforts towards advancing EDI is critical to ensuring that EDI remains a core commitment and priority.
The Task Force recommends the following actions:
• Develop a process by which the University and academic and administrative/support units monitor and report on progress towards EDI goals that are identified in their respective strategic plans. Oversight of this process should be given by the EDI Lead with results shared with the President and the President’s Executive Team and reported to the UM community.
• Improve the collection of data on the diversity of students, staff, and faculty. There are a number of issues to address to better benchmark diversity within the UM community and monitor change including the need to harmonize the collection of diversity data across students, staff, and faculty; review UM’s data systems to ensure the ability for more robust collection and updating of baseline diversity data; develop a comprehensive, multi-pronged plan for increasing participation in self-declaration; and develop a plan for ongoing analysis and reporting of diversity data.
• Create central supports for the evaluation of EDI plans including assistance in developing evaluation criteria, identifying and collecting relevant data, data analysis, and reporting.
• Review current practice and policy regarding oversight, responsibility, and reporting on actions taken to address complaints of discrimination and harassment to ensure clarity of process, transparency, and accountability.
• Allocate resources to the ongoing study of EDI within UM. This should include, but not be limited to, regular implementation of a climate survey that assesses experiences of inclusion among members of the community.
Recommendation 4: Increasing Diversity and Equity Across UM
Recommendation: Develop unit-level plans for increasing the diversity of students, staff, and faculty that include initiatives that address equity.
There is a need to assess diversity at the unit level and to set goals based on an assessment of the lack of representation of historically marginalized groups among a unit’s students, staff, and faculty. Attention must be given to developing strategies that address inequity in order to be effective in achieving diversity.
The following actions are recommended to achieve the goal of greater diversity and equity:
• Increase awareness of equity and its importance in increasing diversity, including the ways in which equity might be enhanced among students, staff, and faculty (e.g., equity admissions policies, targeted hiring, recruitment practices that encourage greater diversity among applicants, targeted funding to support members of marginalized populations, etc.).
• Support faculties in analyzing the diversity of their students, setting goals for student diversity, and developing recruitment strategies and admissions policies that align with their goals.
• Develop unit-level plans for advancing EDI among staff that include goals related to increasing diversity among staff, supporting EDI training for staff, and activities that create a greater sense of inclusion among staff.
• Faculties should develop academic hiring plans that are informed by their assessment of the diversity (or lack thereof) of faculty members within their units.
• Provide central support to assist hiring committees in developing processes that encourage diversity among applications (e.g., develop ads that avoid unnecessary requirements that exclude certain applicant groups, use active recruitment strategies that encourage application from members of historically under-represented groups, engage the assistance of firms with expertise in recruiting diverse applicants).
• Develop and require that hiring committee members participate in training that addresses best practices to advance EDI in hiring.
• Communicate the expectation that faculty and staff promote EDI in their work. EDI activities should be tracked in annual reporting of activities and discussed as part of performance evaluations.
• Recognize efforts by faculty and staff to advance EDI as important service to the University. Administrators should be aware of service expectations related to EDI and the burden of service that may be placed on members of historically under-represented groups. Such contributions should be acknowledged and influence the extent to which other service or teaching is expected or assigned. The level of service expected of a faculty or staff member should be accurately reflected in their assignment of duties.
• Assess commitment and contributions to promoting EDI in advancement processes (e.g., tenure, promotion) of faculty and staff.
Recommendation 5: Accessibility
Recommendation: Ensure central planning and support for increasing accessibility at UM.
Increasing accessibility is critical if UM is going to support full participation by students, staff, and faculty with disabilities. Increasing the participation of peoples with disabilities will only be possible if UM ensures accessibility in all its spaces, services, processes, and materials. Support for ongoing efforts to meet the standards set by the AMA is an important step. While there is currently significant expertise and support for addressing accommodation for students, support for addressing accommodation for faculty and staff is in need of greater coordination and resources. There is also a need for greater support to ensure that all teaching and administrative materials meet accessibility standards.
The Task Force recommends the following actions:
• Allocate significant resources to increase the physical accessibility of UM and comply with the standards set out by the AMA. Physical inaccessibility exists relating to older structures that would not meet current building code guidelines and within areas that fall outside of current building code guidelines (e.g., lab and lecture room physical layout).
• Report on current physical accessibility highlighting areas most accessible and those which are least accessible.
• Guided by the results of the accessibility audit and completed in consultation with experts in accessibility, develop a multi-year plan for increasing physical accessibility across campuses. Annual reporting on progress should be required.
• Create a central office to coordinate accessibility and accommodation. There is a need for coordination and consistency across UM to address accessibility and accommodation including, for example, support for individuals with disabilities when applying for positions, and expertise and resources to assist in the development and implementation of accommodations plans. The services offered by this office should work in collaboration with Physical Plant and build on the experience of, and be coordinated with, Student Accessibility Services.
• Provide central support and monitoring to ensure that all UM content (including the website, teaching materials, forms, and educational/training materials) is accessible.
Recommendation 6: Building Awareness and Support for EDI
Recommendation: Develop and implement a plan for increasing awareness and support for EDI among all UM community members.
Building an inclusive environment is key to both supporting and sustaining progress towards goals of increasing diversity and addressing inequity. One component of an overall strategy to increase inclusion involves ongoing education and awareness-building initiatives to ensure that all members of the UM community understand the principles of EDI and the values embedded in UM’s commitment to EDI. Education about the meaning and differences between diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as their interrelatedness are needed as a foundation for planning and action. Given that membership in UM’s community is constantly changing, education and awareness initiatives must be ongoing and embedded with orientations, onboarding processes, and professional development opportunities. The Task Force acknowledges that there are many activities already in place that address EDI and provide opportunities for learning.
The Task Force recommends building on existing activities with the following actions:
• Create an inventory of workshops and resources available at UM to increase understanding of EDI. Such an inventory would support unit-level plans for increasing awareness and commitment to EDI and would assist individuals interested in learning more about EDI. Gaps in resources could be identified and addressed through new initiatives.
• Offer education regarding equity and its importance in systemic change including ways in which equity can be addressed in meaningful ways in post-secondary institutions (e.g., through equity admissions policies, targeted hiring, awards that support members from historically marginalized groups, etc.).
• Assign responsibility for promotion of EDI awareness at an institutional level to the EDI Office. This Office should also serve as a resource to academic and administrative/support units as they develop unit-specific educational initiatives.
• Provide resources through the EDI Office to individual units for the development and implementation of new initiatives that increase awareness of EDI and create opportunities for engagement and dialogue regarding EDI among students, staff, and faculty.
• Develop strategies and supports to engage those reluctant to accept EDI as a University priority.
Recommendation 7: Addressing EDI in Academic Programs, Teaching, and Research
Recommendation: Encourage, support, and monitor the integration of EDI within academic programs and enhance the knowledge and skills of academic staff to address EDI in their teaching and research.
Given that teaching is key to UM’s mission, education that advances EDI is a critical component of advancing EDI within the institution. Recognizing the diversity of disciplines and programs within the institution, the ways in which EDI is integrated in curricula is best addressed at a faculty level through existing collegial processes that determine course and program content. To be effectively implemented, instructors require support to enhance their knowledge and skills to address EDI and facilitate learning opportunities for their students. Promoting EDI in research should also be encouraged and supported.
The Task Force recommends the following actions:
• Encourage units to assess ways in which content related to EDI is relevant and best addressed in their programs. Supports should be provided to units to facilitate such discussions within program curriculum committees with goals and plans developed in a collegial manner, implemented within academic programs, and monitored.
• Require submissions for program and course introductions/revisions to indicate how EDI has been considered in the development of the proposal.
• Provide funding for EDI teaching and learning projects (similar to the Indigenous Initiatives fund).
• Consideration should be given to the sustainability of initiatives once proven effective.
• Encourage instructors to incorporate EDI into their teaching. Faculty should be provided with the opportunity for advanced training so that they can bring more diverse content and readings into their courses. Resources need to be developed to support efforts to modify curricula/courses (e.g., a bank of EDI materials that are relevant for various topics/disciplines).
• Provide support for instructors to develop skills for addressing issues like systemic racism, sexism, ableism, discrimination based on sexual identity and/or orientation, ageism, etc. in the classroom.
• Include education for researchers on how to incorporate EDI into their research programs including addressing EDI considerations in research design and practices, data collection and analysis, trainee recruitment, and research team participation.
• Include EDI considerations in the criteria used to award internal research funding.
• Include instruction on how to incorporate EDI activities and goals in teaching and research dossiers, tenure and promotion applications, and annual performance reviews. For example, as part of developing a teaching or research dossier, faculty should be encouraged to incorporate statements about their values, beliefs, and goals for addressing EDI.
• Incorporate reporting and discussion of how faculty have addressed EDI in their teaching and research as part of their annual performance review.
Recommendation 8: Promoting Inclusion and Safety
Recommendation: Develop and implement a plan for promoting a greater sense of inclusion and safety at UM that involves both university-wide and unit-specific activities that encourage engagement and participation of all students, staff, and faculty; that foster greater understanding, acceptance, and mutual respect among community members; and that celebrate diversity.
For the principles of EDI to be fully realized within UM, there is a need for ongoing attention to building an inclusive environment in which all members of the community experience a sense of belonging and where diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives are celebrated and seen as contributing to a vibrant learning and working environment. Building inclusion is an ongoing project that must address engagement and participation, interaction and dialogue, and safety for all members of the community. The goal of increased inclusion requires university-wide planning and initiatives as well as more targeted efforts at the level of departments, faculties, and administrative/support units.
The Task Force suggests the following actions to address this recommendation:
• Provide funds centrally and at the unit level to encourage and support events and ongoing activities specifically directed towards creating a sense of inclusion for all members of the community.
• Request that academic and administrative/support units identify specific tactics aimed at building an inclusive environment as a component of their EDI plans.
• Gather further feedback from students to identify and respond to areas where gaps in support for particular groups of students are experienced.
• Develop an anti-racism strategy that encompasses prevention (including education) and processes to address racism when experienced. The extent to which the RWLE policy and procedure is effective in addressing racism must be evaluated.
• Explore the need for strategies that address other types of discrimination.
• Establish processes and protocols for the approval of activities on campus that are controversial and experienced as offensive by some, recognizing the need to balance freedom of expression with the responsibility to provide a work and learning environment that does not harm individuals.
• Develop a plan to create more safe spaces on campus where members of under-represented groups can gather and connect with others who have a shared identity for support and dialogue. This will require engagement with various groups across campus to assess their specific needs.
• Develop a campus map that clearly identifies EDI related resources and safe spaces.
• Implement ongoing safety audits to identify areas of concern. Respond to concerns and suggestions to improve safety.
• Recognize the diversity of faiths within our community and support students, staff, and faculty who wish to observe holidays within various traditions.
The Task Force is encouraged by what we have seen and heard through reviewing current initiatives, event, policies, and practices and by listening to the voices of the many members of UM’s community who took the time to share their experiences and views. We want to thank all who engaged in the process and contributed information and ideas. There is evidence of commitment to EDI within our community; many students, staff, and faculty are engaged in activities to address inequities, increase diversity, and contribute to a more inclusive environment. We applaud you for this ongoing work. We have also learned and heard that there is much work still to do to advance the principles of EDI across the institution. Our hope is that this report will assist in moving UM forward towards achieving the following vision:
We are committed to promoting awareness and understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion, and to advancing these principles within UM’s mission of teaching and learning, research and scholarship, and service. We believe that UM should reflect the diversity of the communities we serve, ensuring access and opportunity for all. We are committed to building a learning and working environment where differences are valued and respected, where inequities and barriers to full participation are identified and eliminated, and where all students, staff, and faculty feel a sense of safety, support, and belonging.