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Rady Faculty adopts ‘milestone’ policy on equity, diversity and inclusion

February 28, 2020 — 

The Rady Faculty of Health Sciences has established a landmark policy on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

The new policy, approved on Feb. 4, applies to all learners, faculty, staff and other individuals across the five-college faculty. Although the Max Rady College of Medicine had a previous EDI policy, the faculty-wide document is a first.

“This is a milestone,” said Jackie Gruber, director of EDI for the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences. “It’s a huge accomplishment.

“Our commitment to EDI as a policy sets the framework for building a Rady Faculty community that ensures equity of opportunity and fair treatment for all, values people’s differences, and provides a welcoming environment where every person feels respected and supported.”

The deans of dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and rehabilitation sciences have signed a joint letter of commitment to the policy.

The policy includes statements in areas such as faculty and staff recruitment and retention; learner recruitment, admissions and retention; curriculum, research and outreach. 

“Now the real work begins, which is to educate the campus community and put the policy statements into action,” Gruber said.

“A key commitment we’re making is that our learners, faculty and staff will reflect the diversity of the Manitoba population that we serve. We want our learners to see themselves in their learning environment, and in leadership roles. We’re at a starting point now.”

The policy incorporates some language resulting from consultation sessions that Gruber held last fall at each college.

For example, the draft phrasing “We understand the effects of colonization on Indigenous communities” was changed to “We seek to understand . . .,” reflecting that the process is ongoing.

Gruber said there is much work to be done in eliminating barriers to the participation and advancement of members of historically under-represented groups, which the policy defines as including women, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, members of racialized communities, people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, and members of refugee and immigrant groups, “as well as others.”    

It’s essential, Gruber said, that anyone involved in Rady Faculty admissions or hiring receive training in recognizing and reducing implicit bias.

For example, treating an applicant’s volunteer work as an “indicator of excellence” may overlook the fact that some applicants don’t have the financial security or free time to be able to volunteer.

Awareness is needed that reference letters can be biased, Gruber added, with male candidates more likely to be described in terms of ability, and female candidates in terms of effort.

Retention of learners, faculty and staff who belong to historically under-represented groups is another area that needs attention, Gruber said.

“Systems of oppression have excluded people for so long. Once they get into the institution, what are the barriers to them staying? We need to provide an environment where they feel safe and have a sense of belonging.”

Implementation/action plans will now be developed for each EDI policy statement. Specific targets will be set and progress will be tracked and reported. “We have to work at everything from all angles,” Gruber said.   

So far, working groups have been established to look at developing a Rady-wide policy on the prevention of learner mistreatment; conducting a diversity survey of all Rady learners; and analyzing the gender pay gap in each college of the Rady Faculty.

Gruber noted that gender is not the only basis for inequitable pay at the university. “We have to move beyond gender and look at how race plays into this,” she said. 

Anyone in any role at the Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry, Max Rady College of Medicine, or Colleges of Nursing, Pharmacy or Rehabilitation Sciences who would like to participate in implementing the EDI policy is encouraged to contact Gruber at jackie [dot] gruber [at] umanitoba [dot] ca.

“We’re looking for learners, staff and faculty who want to be involved,” she said.

Gruber also encouraged members of the Rady Faculty community to register for a free, day-long Diversity and Equity Symposium on March 20, presented by WISDOM (Women in Science: Development, Outreach and Mentoring in Manitoba).


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