Guest blog by Erin Prosser-Loose, on behalf of the Diversity and Inclusion Working Group
Intentional action to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace leads to increased productivity, more creativity, new discoveries, and is the right thing to do. In the context of the College of Medicine, diversity refers to having a broad range of personal characteristics and life experiences represented across our faculty, leadership, students, and staff; this diversity is reflected through our policies, programs, and practices. But having a diverse group is not enough if people are not happy and thriving in the workplace. Inclusion takes it a step further, and ensures people feel safe, welcomed, valued, and free from harassment and discrimination.
The College of Medicine is showing its commitment to diversity and inclusion through the formation and ongoing contributions of the Diversity and Inclusion Working Group. While this group is focused on faculty and staff, we know that students are positively impacted when they have diverse mentors and role models among leadership, faculty, and staff. Diversity among the student population in the college is being addressed through a number of units, including Admissions and Student Services. These units provide services for Indigenous students, as well as initiatives around mentorship for Indigenous individuals, LGBTQ2 people, and opportunities for students to act as mentors for youth who come from underserved areas in partnership with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Saskatoon.
The Diversity and Inclusion Working Group is currently planning initiatives around the four designated groups defined by the Employment Equity Act: Indigenous peoples, women, visible minorities, and persons with a disability. However, we also recognize that diversity extends beyond these four designated groups; one example being LGBTQ2 people. The working group is specifically planning strategies to make recruitment and outreach, retention and advancement, and representation on committees more inclusive, and we are also planning for education and training opportunities. Gathering data and evaluating the success of the initiatives will be a focus for the group.
Each and every person in the College of Medicine has a role to play in achieving true inclusion. Small things make a difference in contributing to a positive workplace and improved morale. Here are some small actions we can all take:
- Look around in meetings and ask yourself, who is missing from this conversation? Is there anyone whom you could invite to improve the diversity of perspectives at the table?
- On the other hand, recognize when certain people are being asked to sit on numerous committees and attend many meetings, and ask if and how you can help relieve their burden
- Include your pronouns of choice in your email signature and/or online profile
- Begin speaking engagements with a land acknowledgement
- Schedule meetings within regular working hours, so that everyone with commitments outside of work has a chance to participate
- Think about providing childcare at events, or welcoming children to join the audience
- Ensure meetings and events are held in wheelchair accessible spaces, and have accessibility services to those who are hearing or vision impaired
- Aim for flexibility in your workplace, as this is linked to the attraction and retention of diverse talent
- Test and acknowledge your own unconscious biases: Implicit Association Test
- Be an ally and speak up if you witness someone being mistreated or treated unfairly
- Take advantage of training opportunities and community events to learn more about diversity and inclusion
It is okay to not always know the right thing to say or do, and to acknowledge that you are still learning. Making the effort is an essential contribution to a healthy, thriving, and inclusive culture within the College of Medicine, and to ultimately getting the best out of the talented people who work here.
Resources for more information:
- Indigenous Peoples: Reconciliation at the U of S, Canada’s universities take steps toward reconciliation
- Peoples with Disabilities
- Women in Academia
- USSU Pride Centre
- OUT Saskatoon
The Golden Rule: treat others as you wish to be treated.
The Platinum Rule: treat others as they wish to be treated.