Strategic Directions: Representation & Success
Through a range of efforts across the University, York will work to build an environment that is representative of the communities it serves by actively recruiting, supporting, retaining, and advancing students, faculty, instructors, and staff from equity-deserving communities.
Representation across all sectors of the University is important. This includes all aspects of the employment cycle and the student life cycle. To address representation, the University must pay attention to recruitment and retention initiatives as well as create conditions for success.
Sarah Bay-Cheng, PhDDean & Professor, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, York University
Recommendations for new campus-wide initiatives
- Undertake a deeper review of the representation rates and the complex array of barriers that equity-deserving domestic and international undergraduate and graduate students encounter when applying for their program of choice and meeting the requirements of successful completion to ensure appropriate outreach, recruitment strategies and supports are in place. To be led by the Division of Students in collaboration with the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS).
- Assess financial barriers for students (undergraduate and graduate); identify and seek funding and support opportunities to both reduce barriers for equity-deserving students and support affordability strategies/programs for students, to be led by the Division of Students.
- Initiate a fundraising effort to support decolonization, diversity, equity and inclusion-related initiatives, with a particular emphasis on support for scholarships, awards and bursaries, to be led by the Division of Advancement.
- Create a convocation review working group to make recommendations to apply principles of DEDI to the ritual and ceremony of convocation.
- Create a DEDI program that will assist graduate student admission selection committees, which may include education or tools in areas such as: reviewing the language in program descriptions; information on the selection of diverse admission interview committee members; materials to understand and identify unconscious bias; information on best practices for recruiting Indigenous Peoples, women, persons with disabilities and racialized peoples, to be led by FGS.
- Create a DEDI education program or set of tools for all student award committee members (e.g. scholarships, bursaries etc.) to enable more inclusive approaches to recipient selection led by Division of Students in collaboration with FGS.
- Develop a strategy and action plan for employment equity at York, including benchmarks for recruitment, hiring, and retention of equity-deserving individuals, qualitative and quantitative reporting mechanisms with the goal of building on existing dedicated hiring initiatives, increasing representation, career progression, success and retention across all employee groups (faculty, instructors and staff), to be led by Division of Equity, People and Culture. This includes:
- Reviewing and revising interview and hiring practices to ensure universal design and ensuring gender-neutral language is used in job postings;
- Reviewing and revising our understanding of qualifications for employment, for example what counts as “experience” through a DEDI lens and examining expectations of experience in areas or positions from which equity-deserving individuals have been systemically and historically excluded;
- Embedding DEDI as a competency in the York competency framework for Confidential, Professional and Managerial (CPM) employees, which may include development and implementation of criteria for advancing into mid-level and senior-level leadership that requires demonstration of individual leaders’ commitment to DEDI;
- Encourage the University Secretariat to request that faculty tenure and promotion (T&P) committees include DEDI principles in their guidelines.
- Identifying and implementing opportunities to ensure that University-created learning opportunities utilize universal design principles and accommodate learners’ needs;
- Develop and maintain a resource guide aimed at decreasing barriers and increasing satisfaction and retention of employees with disabilities, led by CHREI;
- Reviewing and revising, as appropriate, any existing employment equity related programs or policies;
- Develop and launch of an employment equity data dashboard;
- As an Anchor Institution, support a local hiring strategy for all non-academic positions that recognizes the long-standing place-based relationship York has with its neighbouring communities. This strategy, developed in consultation with the Anchor York U Employment Working Group, will centre the valuable contributions that members of the community bring to the institution uniquely positioning York to leverage its economic power and human capital through the strategic recruitment of local residents for employment. This aims to increase representation and success in employee demographics and contribute to community economic wellbeing.
- Create and embed best practice guidelines for the recognition and valuing of DEDI-related work in collaboration with Provosts, Deans, and collective bargaining units, in scholarship, teaching, educational leadership, and service for faculty.
Recommendations for continuing initiatives
- Implement a student census, including use of data to inform reviews of student support services and development of new initiatives to support student success and retention.
- Engage with SexGen, RISE, ENABLE York and other relevant advisory/advocacy bodies to continue the work to ensure appropriate systems, policies and accommodation guidelines are in place.
- Continue to support the creation of employee affinity groups to provide visibility, support and opportunities for staff, faculty, instructors, and student employees from equity-deserving groups to connect (e.g. Black Staff Affinity Group). Resource appropriate supports, including budget allocations to the network(s) to organize events or activities.
- Continue to cultivate donor relationships that support DEDI projects and that include financial support programs for equity-deserving students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
- Support the development and implementation of alumni networks for equity-deserving groups and engagement activities for these alumni.
- Continue regular reviews of accommodation policies and practices for all student and employee groups.
- Labour Relations to continue to work with union partners to implement new and revised provisions related to DEDI that have been negotiated into renewal collective agreements in 2021 and 2022. This includes the first ever Joint Committees on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion that were negotiated into some collective agreements.
- Implementation of relevant action items in the Action Plan on Black Inclusion continues, and may overlap with initiatives already identified, such as those in the thematic areas of Representation and Data Collection, among others.
Taking action, making impact
We call on faculties, divisions, units, departments, and individual York community members (including students) to identify and implement actions to:
- Embrace alternative ways of valuing/recognizing individuals’ contributions to York
- Ensure diverse representation on all standing committees (scholarships and awards, petitions, Faculty Councils, resource-faculty graduate curriculum committees etc.).
- Increase representation in leadership roles from equity-deserving groups, such as program directors, chairs etc.
- Embed DEDI principles and practices in the delivery of student-focused initiatives, programming, and events including the recruitment and training of staff and students engaged in such work.
- Identify opportunities to recruit and hire individuals (including faculty, instructors and staff) from equity-deserving groups and assess a state of readiness to welcome a diversity of individuals to the unit. If the unit is not ready to welcome diverse individuals, then actions need to be identified and taken to address the culture of the unit to change and be one that is inclusive and ready.
Understanding that benchmarks will need to be established over time, and the mechanisms put in place to be able to track our progress, the following benchmarks and/or monitoring systems are recommended:
- Develop mechanisms to monitor key student application, enrolment, retention and graduation benchmarks (undergraduate, graduate, continuing education etc.) annually.
- Monitor proportion of equity-deserving groups to ensure representation in employment at all levels and in all categories within the institution, annually for progress and against local representation rates where possible.
- Develop mechanisms to monitor key employment equity benchmarks including rates of application, retention, failed hires etc. A retrospective analysis will be conducted to understand the success and lessons learned from dedicated hiring programs with the view to make recommendations for future hiring practices.
This work will be done with consideration to Indigenous data sovereignty. Consultations with York Indigenous community members will take place on what this means for the University in relation to equity benchmarks and data collection and may mean development of a consultation process on the collection, interpretation and publication of data involving Indigenous Peoples.