Photo C/O Kyle West

McMaster University is currently taking its second employment equity census to evaluate the diversity of McMaster’s staff and faculty.

The voluntary census is open to all McMaster employees and identifies the representation of five target groups: women, visible minorities, persons with disabilities, Indigenous peoples and LGBTQA2S+ employees.

The census comes three years after the first census, which was taken in 2016 and produced the first employment equity report and led to the development of McMaster’s employment equity framework.

According to the report from the 2016 census, 43.07 per cent of all McMaster staff and faculty participated. Of that 43 per cent, only 2.12 per cent across the institution self-identified as part of the LGBTQA2S+ community.

In a number of high participation-rates groups, less than two per cent per cent identified as Aboriginal, 10.18 per cent indicated they were members of visible minority groups and less than four per cent indicated that they had a disability.

61.93 per cent identified as women.

According to the report, the representation of women was above representation in the overall Canadian labour force statistics, while internal representation of Indigenous individuals and individuals with disabilities fell below them.

The visible minority representation was far below external representation.

One recommendation from the first census was that McMaster form an employment equity implementation team to promote the employment equity framework.

Since 2017, May-Marie Duwai-Sowa, the university’s employment equity specialist, has been working closely with Arig al Shaibah, the associate vice president (Equity and Inclusion), to improve McMaster’s employment equity.

According to Duwai-Sowa, over a thousand faculty members, chairs and directors have undergone training for equitable hiring and recruitment practices. The EEIT will also run Indigenous cultural competency training for many McMaster employees on March 8.

One pilot project that has been implemented by the EEIT is a self-ID survey for interviews within certain faculties, where applicants were asked to identify their background.

“If you have candidates from diverse backgrounds that meet the requirements, there should be no reason why they should not make your long or short list,” Duwai-Sowa said. “The focus is still obviously hiring excellent candidates that meet the bar of excellence and meet the requirements that are in the posting.”

Duwai-Sowa also pointed to McMaster’s efforts to reach applicants from different backgrounds. For example, McMaster is ensuring its jobs are posted on Indigenous Link, a website to help Indigenous communities find employment.

“It is really about making sure our workforce is diverse now so we are meeting the needs of our students because our student population is also diverse,” Duwai-Sowa said.

One key recommendation from the 2016 report yet to be implemented is a systems-wide review of current hiring and retention practices and policies. This is expected to begin soon and be released by the end of 2019.

Noticeably absent from both the 2016 report and the upcoming 2019 employment census is race-specific data.

Many major Canadian universities still do not collect data on the race of their faculty and students.

“We are currently working on incorporating disaggregate breakdowns of radicalized groups and Indigenous peoples for both the employee census, applicant self- ID survey and student self ID survey, which is planned to be initiated this fall,” said Duwai-Sowa.

The equity and inclusion team is hoping to release the results of this year’s employment census in the upcoming fall.


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